“When a 5-star equals 3 star... Read on...”
We are still at the resort as I am writing these notes...
We purchased a 10 day Platinum vacation package for the three of us from Nov. 22 to Dec. 2, 2012 (from Toronto -through WestJet Vacations).
Amongst many things I must mention that the resort's garden is unbelievably beautiful, simply astonishing! Also the staff is very kind, nice, smiling, and very accommodating, even though they can cause significant frustration due to their lack of communication in the English language -- total respect to those who speak English, even if it's on the most basic levels.
The food is pretty great, too. It would be nicer if they'd come up with a selection of Dominican cuisine for a week and repeat that rather than inserting such themes as Russian and French or Mexican ir Oriental nights.
If I had wanted to experience those foods, I would go to the particular country. We came to the Dominican Republic because we wanted to know this country, not France or Mexico or China.
After checking in we got settled and at about 9 pm on November 22 I called for our laundry to be picked up and cleaned. The agent on the other end informed me that it's too late now, but someone will be there in the morning to pick it up. I asked what time, he said about 8 o'clock. I said OK, they will be in a bag outside in front of the door.
8 o'clock went by, then 9, and 10, and nothing happened. I called them again, apologizing for bothering them repeatedly (as if I really had to apologize for this on the Platinum level), but I would like them to pick up our laundry. They said they will send someone to pick it up right
away, no worries. I like the "right away" part!
Well, then came 11 o'clock, 12 o'clock, and then 1pm, and 2pm, and at 2:30pm I called them again, and asked if they perhaps forgot about it (after calling now for the 3rd time)... and FINALLY someone came and picked it up at 3pm.
We were TRULY surprised by two additional things (that we've never experienced at any FIVE-STAR resorts before): I opened the tap of the tub and I saw the water tricking out rather extremely slowly... AND, I had it at the hottest setting and it was not even warm! To summarize the whole "bathtub event," it took a total of 94 (NINETY FOUR) minutes to fill up.
Is this a characteristic of a FIVE STAR resort? Not in my books!
On our second night at the Princess Bavaro in Punta Cana we looked at the room service menu and decided to order some food at 10:40pm. I called Room Service. I got an answering service saying "We are sorry but we can't come to the phone right now, please leave a message and one of our professionals will return your call." ...then I heard a beep, and then came another message: "There is no more room to leave a message.
Goodbye." I thought to myself "what a 'great' FIVE-STAR service this
really is! WOW!" I felt like a skilled secretary by the time I got through to a live person; it took me a total of 9 (nine) calls before I was lucky enough to speak to a live person... And, I was greeted with the sad news that I can no longer order from the regular menu as it is now 11 o'clock and now they serve snacks only. Well, that's how 'great' the Room Service is at the Bavaro Princess resort. Would I call it a FIVE-STAR room service? Not in my lifetime!
On the second day of our stay we went out to the beach in the morning and got back at about 2 pm... and our room was still (!!!) not made up! Our (three-year old) child has her afternoon sleep usually between 2 and 5pm, so our room was cleaned at 5 o'clock after all. In any other truly-5-star resorts the rooms are cleaned between 9am and 2pm.
Let me mention about the resort's "5-star" telephones, too. Maybe it was just our luck, but we had our phone changed 4 (four) times! The connection of the phone-cable was bad in two occasions, the ringer switch was stuck in one unit and the receiver cord's receptacle had some contact problem in another. I have never had any problems with any telephones in any other five-star resorts, but again, this might have been just a fluke.
Here, amongst many things, I should also mention that by looking at the apparent LACK OF maintenance one can simply conclude that the management of the Bavaro Princess has completely neglected to look after maintenance issues for many years. As it appears, this resort could have been 5-star at some point of time perhaps 20 to 25 years ago. If they kept up with the proper (and necessary) maintenance, they could have upheld its star rating, but not like the signs show how they've been handling it.
On our 4th day we went to the snack bar at the beach where they made hamburgers and hot dogs. The hot dogs were OK, but the hamburgers were either equal to or worse than what they serve on cheap events in your home town, probably even worse than the McDonald's burgers. Nevertheless, we've now been used to the "piling" insults to our wallet, so we just left the burgers on the table to be thrown out. Since we were hungry and the main restaurants were closed for another hour or two, we were snacking away at the fries... And when we asked for napkins, the waiter stated that there are NO NAPKINS! I raised my eyebrow and was appalled at this new fact, but I was no longer surprised that they leave their 5-STAR guests
with greasy fingers as if they were pigs in a sty. Greasy fingers and
unsanitary conditions are all fine for these pigs, right?!?!!!
Then we were served with some orange juices, and when asked if they could give us some straws, (again: no surprise) we were told they have NO STRAWS! I wasn't about to allow my lips to touch those glasses... (But we were very thirsty!) Same issue in the main buffet at dinner time: they had NO STRAWS! If you have seen the glasses' cleanliness, you would beg (!!!) for straws! At some cases you saw the grease spots of previous guests on the glasses.
It left me with no choices but to question if they used absolutely any
detergent to wash the glasses! Is that how they save on their expenses?
Not very impressive from a (supposedly) 5-STAR resort! *gulp* Congratulations WestJet vacations for "contracting out" your valuable Canadian clients to this resort, great job!
Ever since we've arrived, we've had tiny ANTS around the coffee machine in our room. I opened a bottle of Sprite, and the ants found their way into the bottle pretty quickly. When I asked Management why the ants are around and perhaps if they could administer a more thorough cleaning (like sanitizing), say, once a year, the ants would likely stop infesting themselves... The answer was: "Oh, these are normal tropical ants, they don't bite, they just come in through gaps because of some sweet stuff on the floor..." Sweet stuff on the for??? Haven't I just mentioned about
sanitizing? Gaps??? In a FIVE-STAR resort??? Oh my!
I don't know about this 5-STAR resort, but up to date we've seen quality
(!!!) shows after every dinner on every other (TRUE) 5-STAR resorts we've been to. Here, at the Bavaro Princess all we got was some lousy
low-quality jazz music by some local musicians. Other 5-star resorts
like Iberostar or RIU in Spain or Jamaica or on the Bahamas or in Mexico or Panama provide their guests with talented singers, comedians and acrobats (just to name a few)!
Another important issue is that at this 5-STAR resort most of the staff do not speak or understand English. For example, I asked for an orange juice at lunch and the server staff member just looked at me (like I should have learned these words in Spanish...) and asked me "What?" Then I tried my best in Spanish, and mentioned the word "naranja" (which is supposed to mean 'orange' in Spanish), and I gesticulated a drinking movement... But, all I got was a questioning face and the question: "What?"
Is it how a 5-star resort should treat its Customers? I don't think so!
On the 3rd day I asked to talk with the resort's Manager on duty. Tony from the Guest Services volunteered to help me, but, as you can understand from the above mentioned examples and experiences, I had no trust in anyone else being able to make a difference but perhaps the (hopefully
somewhat competent) Manager. The Reception assured me that they will
contact the Manager himself, and set up an appointment for me.
The next morning my child, my wife and I went down to the beach. I came back to the room at about 10:35 to get something, and I found an envelope on the ground. I opened it and it contained an official looking letter in which the Management stated that the Manager was ready to see me at 11am.
The letter didn't say where he would like to meet. (Any more details
would seem more like 5-star detail -- how do I dare think that way?) I
called Guest Services and told them that I got their appointment letter a mere 20 minutes prior to the meeting time and their 5-star services hardly
leave me time to prepare or even arrive (on time) to the meeting. I
asked them to send their esteemed Manager to see me on the beach, I will
be there at the Platinum section. He appeared in tow with Tony Estenor,
the Guest Services Manager. I verbally listed the problems I've experienced in the resort so far. Of course I was talking to smart people
-- after all, that's why they were chosen to be in their positions, so they were doing their absolute best to come up with the best excuses (when there were any excuse available). It was good to hear some productive responses such as "We'll have to look into that, and how we can improve in that area of Service."
At the end of our meeting, Manager Ronald Ramirez presented us with a 30 minutes Spa treatment, and a free ticket to a zoo nearby. This is a fairly nice basic compensation for the troubles we had experienced (so
far) in the first four days of our stay at the Bavaro Princess resort.
Unfortunately they had no clue for how much more we will suffer for the rest of our stay. Read on...
On November 29 our (4th) phone broke, the buttons had to be pressed by about a 4 lbs force to be effective. We asked for the 5th (!!!) phone in
our 7 day stay so far. What a 5-STAR experience!!! Hmmmm....
On Friday, November 30 at about 7:50am we got to one of the "bus-stations," this time by the Platinum reception. We waited over 25 minutes (not exaggerating), till the bus came (the resort is so huge, the guests need to be transported by bus, to the buffet, to the beach, etc.).
I asked the staff why we have to wait so much for the bus. They said there is only 1 (one) bus from 7 till 8 in the mornings. (The resort is 100% occupied.). Apparently there are 3 busses from 8am, according to what this staff member said, though I've seen only 2 busses at this time period in the last 7 days.
Let's see the facts: the resort is 100% occupied. Guests are waiting for transportation to go have breakfast. We humans are much more irritable when we are hungry than otherwise. Guests will remember the LACK of SERVICE they were receiving while waiting. This problem can spread bad reputation amongst future potential guests... Which equals to loss of income. Note for Resort Management, especially to the Guest Services department and Mr. Ronald Ramirez (Resort Manager). Having another bus added between 7 and 8am could result in more income... Especially when the resort is full! It would also make a 5-STAR resort look more like a 5-star one!
When we got to the Buffet, I asked a server for a high chair for our 3-year old daughter, he said he'll look around for one. That didn't happen for about 5 minutes, so I looked at all the sections of the restaurant and found one. I carried it all across the entire restaurant and seated my daughter. In a 5-STAR resort the staff would have (quickly) helped the guest with such a need!
Then my wife asked a server for a green tea. The waiter brought a black
tea. My wife pronounced it super-clearly: "grrreeeen" still, the waiter just looked at her puzzled and asked "What?" Was I supposed to learn that word in Spanish as well? Why didn't I Lear Spanish fluently before I came
to this resort?!?!!! Shouldn't their staff learn the ten most basic
At 10:50am on November 30, our 8th day, I called for Room Service (for milk in my morning coffees). I was connected to a machine that said:
"you've been forwarded to a voice mail service to which the extension you called doesn't subscribe. Goodbye." I called 2 more times, both times a different Room Service extension, each time I let the phone ring 20
(twenty) times, still no answer. I called again in about 10 minutes and I
got through. *Whew!* Room Service said they will send someone to bring
my milk right away. At 3:30pm (nearly 5HOURS LATER) I called Guest
Services to discuss the issue. Following that conversation where I reminded them how nothing has changed in their class of services, I
finally got my milk at 3:55pm. What a 5-STAR experience -- more like
3-STAR! Again: allow me to congratulate WestJet Vacations for robbing us
out of several thousand dollars for nearly nothing in return!!!
Finally, a POSITIVE experienced: the Mini Disco (for the kids) was super, we were very pleased to be there! A nicely spent thirty minutes!
On our way back from the Mini Disco to our room it was raining, and the bus not only had no side protection against the rain, but the roof had numerous holes in it as we'll, so we got superbly wet. It would take Management so little amount of money to make it better for their guests, yet they choose not to take that route. That's sad to see. They could easily make this place a truly 5-star resort... But not this way!
Watermelon was available only for the first two days of our stay. No more trace of it at all afterwards.
Tomatoes were available for the first seven days of our stay. After that the only tomatoes we could spot was the damaged ones and they used them for decoration purposes only.
We understand that keeping a low inventory on fruits and vegetables saves money... But is this how a 5-STAR resort's guests are to be treated?
Apparently (and sadly) yes. Again, all our thanks to WestJet Vacations
for choosing this resort! Good job! (Right...)
On our 8th day we had lunch at the Culture Restaurant (nearby the snack bar by the beach). There was no more napkins, so I interrupted the two girls who were involved in a heavy conversation (supposedly not about work), and asked them to get some more napkins and forks too since there was only one left in the tray. One of them disappeared and came back in about a minute that there will be more napkins in about 2 minutes. You can guess as there were no napkins in 10 minutes. And this was at lunch time!
Throughout the entire resort we've spoken with numerous guests, and during our conversations it came up (at almost all cases) how we or they would rate this resort, whether it should be a 5-star resort or less.
Everyone, without any exception, STRONGLY STATED that it should certainly
be a weak 4-star or, in some guests' opinion, only a 3-star. Some of the
guests we spoke with were repeat guests where some have returned the 3rd or 4th times, and they ALL stated that the resort is becoming worse and worse every time they come, and they also said the resort has indeed long lost its 5-star status.
I should also mention that a Westjet Vacations employee (named Melinda) called me and asked me to tell her in my words how I feel about this resort. I told her some of the above listed points, and, since she called me, I asked her how she was prepared to proceed. The least the company (WestJet Vacations) should do is compensate their Clients somehow for their (continuous) disappointments. She mentioned to me that I and my family should just leave this resort and upgrade to a different one AT OUR OWN COST! Her other suggestion was to simply leave, and go back home to Canada (with absolutely no refund offered from WestJet Vacations). I asked her if WestJet Vacations would reimburse us a portion of our vacation package costs if we choose any of the options offered by herself
on behalf of WestJet Vacation, but she said NO. That's one way to make
sure that I, along with all my friends, associates, employees, acquaintances and anyone I speak with about any future vacations will stay away from using WestJet Vacations. I also asked her to email me the options she just mentioned to me -- just to make her call and our conversation official -- but she briefly stated that she will NOT put anything about our conversation in writing. She has also stated that the Bavaro Princess resort called her to devise a solution and (according to her words) the resort had specifically asked her assistance in EVICTING me and my family. I said to her: "Wow, now this is becoming increasingly interesting, and I now insist that you put all of these facts in writing and send it to me by email please." She, of course, would not send anything to me IN WRITING. She asked me to speak with the resort's management and let her know how I wish to proceed. She left her local Punta Cana telephone number with me.
Immediately after this conversation I called Mr. Tony Estenor at the Guest Services department for the validity of Melinda's statements, and he
(repeatedly) mentioned to me that he or other staff members simply REPORT to WestJet Vacations what took place with their Clients, in this case my disappointments that I verbally stated to him, but by absolutely no means has he or any staff of the resort ask Melinda or anyone else at WestJet Vacations to assist them to evict us or even ask us to move (or upgrade) us to any other resort. I then asked Tony to re-confirm everything with the Manager Ronald Ramirez Guerrero that he had not said anything like this to Melinda from WestJet Vacations. I asked Tony if he would agree with me that Melinda from WestJet Vacations had said untrue information -- which was further validated when she denied my request to put her words in an email message, and Tony confirmed that it appears that Melinda was LYING to me about the evicting part of her conversation to me. (Otherwise she would have put her statements in writing as to make it official.) Tony also stated that if they felt a guest should be evicted from their properties, they would not ask the assistance of any third party company.
He kindly mentioned that eviction occurs only if a guest vandalizes property (like breaks a Television set or radio, etc.) or of a guest hurts an employee or another guest, or if s/he would promote negative marketing about the resort among other guests. Tony diplomatically explained that if a guest is disappointed, it's only a challenge for the management to fix the particular problem. (It appears to me that Mr. Tony Estenor is a truly superb management talent, and hopefully he will be promoted to a position where he can put his talents to use. I will do my absolute best to promote him to the head office to Princess Hotels the next time I will be in Southern Spain. I hope they will also read this document.
I would never return to the above mentioned resort. When a person is more stressed on vacation than in their job, that's a sad fact. I like the management, too bad they are unable to improve this resort in a significant way.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.