After visiting the Barcelo Maya Palace Duluxe resort in the Mexico Riviera Maya and loving it for the past 3 straight years, I decided to try a different Barcelo resort and so went with the Barcelo Bavaro Palace for my family reunion trip. My family and I all visited the Barcelo Bavaro Palace between Oct 30-Nov6, which consisted of 20 people, which included my 5 month pregnant wife and 94 year old grandmother (yes she made it through without issues).
After having read over 50 different reviews of the resort over the past several months, I got a pretty good idea of what to expect on our trip and I would say everything I expected to happen or not happen, pretty much did. Here is the breakdown:
Drive from Airport to the Resort: Took about 25 minutes. We went with Olympus tours and they arranged for a big air conditioned bus for me and my family. The airport is all open air, meaning no AC! lol so be sure to dress lightly or be able to change into something light. You also need $10 cash to even get to the custom's gate. I'm hoping that all that $$$ they make eventually goes to providing some means to make the area more cooler for traveler's.
Check In: Most of the reviewers said that check in time took forever (45+ min on avg). When all 20 of us arrived around 3pm, there was nobody in line so we all checked in at the same time. The only problem was that we all requested our rooms to be close to my grandmother's room, which was in the Family section. They upgraded 2 of the other 5 rooms for free to the family section,while the rest of us were in the golf section. I had complained to the front desk supervisor that if your gonna do it for 2 of the rooms why couldn't he do it for the other 3 rooms and he just gave me a bunch of BS. The front desk ladies that were checking us in told us we could stay in the buildings close to the beach (i.e. building 4 or 5) for a $25/night upgrade fee, which is what I also had read in the previous reviews. I noticed the front desk supervisor saying something to the girl and next thing I knew, it was all of a sudden $60/night upgrade and I had 1 day to decide otherwise the price would go up to $100/night. I mentioned to him that I had been emailing Guest Services back and forth prior to our trip and they said they would do their best to accommodate us so he pretended to call them up and eventually told us no still. After about a good 30 minutes of arguing and waiting for them to check if they could upgrade us I just gave up and asked for our room keys for our rooms in the golf section as I did not want our vacation to start off any worse than it already did. Looking back I should have just went straight to guest services as they operate separately from the front desk staff and probably would have accommodated us. My fear from reading the reviews was that the rooms in the golf section were too far of a walk to and from the main lobby area. This was totally not the case. If you walk straight from the main lobby and take the main road to the golf section, it took us a good 7 min tops and it is actually very nice and quiet there. Every night there is a performance in the lobby area and it can get pretty loud so staying in the golf section was probably the best thing that happened to us since we had kids traveling with us. All in all, we got the room we paid for, I can't complain in that respect, I was just mainly dissapointed with the shadiness and inconsistent BS the front desk supervisor was giving me. He actually had the nerve to give me a cool "hey bro" handshake at the end like he did me a favor. I had Guest Services write him up because it can paint a nasty image of the resort, which would be a shame.
Grounds/Beach: I think everyone is in agreement here. The resort is very well kept and extremely clean. The staff work around the clock ensuring everything is spotless, including the bathrooms, ensuring sea week is raked up every morning, and just everywhere you walk and look. You definitely feel like your in a 5 star resort. Very modern looking.
The beach is very calm and was perfect for my little ones. My 3 year old was able to walk a good 30 yards into the water and still be able to stand without issues. This was one of the main reasons I booked this resort. We rented a kayak one day which was a lot of fun.
The kids Barcy water park area (located in the Family section) was a huge hit with my kids. The only thing is that its not very close to the beach area so we basically would spend time at the beach in the morning after breakfast then after lunch we'd hit the Barcy park on the way home before getting ready for dinner. There is also a seperate water park section with a huge pirate ship and water slides for older kids and adults but they charge like $20 per day for an entrance fee. Seriously? What a joke. I also saw lazer tag and "put put" golf areas that also came with a price. Too bad so sad.
Service: Reading past reviews revealed that the staff caters to spanish speaking guests and that most of the staff does not speak english very well. While I'm sure it helps to speak as much spanish as possible, nobody in our party new more than a few basic words of spanish and we were treated very well for the majority of our stay, especially by the buffet staff. They were great with our kids and and always smiling, even when they seemed to be very busy and overworked. We ate breakfast at the same table area every morning and left tips for the waitresses so I'm sure that helped, but we were getting good service even before we tipped. Yes they are not english speakers but they do their best to understand your request via sign language or key words and I would say the most important thing is to treat the staff how you would like to be treated. A smile with an "Hola" goes a long ways and "Gracias" after they bring you a drink or fulfill a request. We tipped atleast $2 a family per seating and left the same amount in our bedroom with a list of items we wanted (more water, towels, orange juice for the kids) and all requests were made. The staff works very hard and deserve it.
Food/Bars: I was not expecting to eat 5 star level food and having been to the Barcelo resort in Mexico, I pretty much knew what to expect. There are 2 buffets, the Domincan and the International buffet, which offered tons of variety and options. Not the greatest quality or prettiest looking food but our family are not very picking eaters and did not make a big deal over the food. It was fine. Breakfast was probably our favorite. Omeletts were good as was the oat meal and variety of fresh fruits. For the ala cartes, we were able to book 5 nights at the the first seating, which was 6pm for all 20 of my family members thanks to Guest Services. This really took a huge burden off my shoulders of getting all of us a reservation at a restaurant so we didn't have to eat buffet food every night. Here is a breakdown of each of the restauants:
Seafood/Coral: Most of us ordered lobster. Was not very good, very bland but the service was very very good. There is a salad buffet you can go to, which helped give us some other offerings. They reserved a nice VIP room for my family. Very intimate.
Italian: Probably the worst of the restaurants we went to and the worst service of all the restaurants. Wait staff never smiled or gave off a friendly vibe. Also had a small salad bar to grab some appetizers. Would not recommend this place.
Japanese/Kyoto: We celebrated my son's 6th birthday here and they even made a small cake for my son to blow the candles (thank you again guest services for setting this up!). We all ate at the tempanyani seating, which is where the chef cooks in front of you because I know my son would enjoy the experience. The service was amazing from the cook to the 2 waiters that were serving us. I mentioned it was my son's birthday and all of a sudden I'm getting 2-3 extra orders of the chef's sushi special along with a few more order of dumplings. I was a happy camper. Unfortunately, the food is very very salty. They pour a ton of soy sauce into the fried rice and meat, which was unfortunate. If they could take a few pours away, I think the food would be much better but the overall experience was great just by the love and service my family received. They definitely went above and beyond to make us feel special.
Spanish: The best food we ate during our trip. The appetizers and main courses were very delicious, including the desserts. Service was slow and average but would have loved to gone back another night. My filet was cooked perfectly and my other family members said the lamb shank was very good as well. Highly recommend this place.
Steakhouse: This place was very big inside but was extremely HOT!!! My kids had to take bathroom breaks just to get some cooler air lol. My rib eye was cooked very well (MEDIUM). People say not to take any chances with meats in Punta Cana and go with well done but I took a chance and ordered it how I like it in the states and it worked out well. My cousin ordered her steak well done and it was hard and dry as a rock. The Onion soup was very good as well. The Steakhouse also offers its own private buffet area to get appetizers and desserts. The wait staff was also very friendly and responsive. Good service.
Hoya 19: This is the golf course restaurant which does not require a reservation. You can walk in with a pair of shorts on no problem. We only went there for breakfast one day and was very dissapointed. The service was very slow and the waitress we had was very rude when we asked for extra water. We were hoping to come in for dinner one night on a night we didn't have a regular ala carte reservation but that run in with the waitress and the long wait for our food just killed it for us. The fruit at the buffet there did seem much more fresher than the fruit that was served at the regular buffet in the main lobby. Many people said they loved it. Too bad we never got to experience dinner there.
Sports Bar: This was probably one of our favorite places to hangout. Whenever we got tired of eating the usual buffet food, we would come hangout here for good wings and other american food. I enjoyed the fries, onion rings, chicken wings, and the burger. It was especially really good after hitting the Casino and Dance Club at 2am lol. Everything was good at that point. Word of advice, depending on what time you leave for the airport, this is a great place to stop before leaving to pack up your stomach before the long trip. This place is 24 hours and we saw the same workers there for most of the week. Every time they were smiling and opening the door for us. Very hard workers and good people.
After dinner every night we hung out at the Carey Bar for drinks. We would reserve a big area to sit and digest our meals over a few drinks. Very nice place to just chill and relax afterwards.
Next door there is a Cigar/coffee bar and lounge which makes awesome coffee drinks. The frapachinos, irish whiskey, and the creme brule (yes its a drink) were a huge hit! Since we were with kids, we would hangout in the Carey bar and the waitresses would just go over to the coffee bar and order the coffee drinks.
All in all, was a great experience, minus the check-in process. I would definitely consider visiting this property again down the road but think I am Barcelo'd out for the time being. This resort has the potential of a 4.5-5 star resort if the food quality and some service aspects caught up to the beauty of this resort and its beach. Also the coupon book they give you is a complete insult. You can't use any of the coupons unless you spend some $$$ first (shocker!). Highly recommend tipping when/if you can. I didn't see others doing it which is unfortunate but I guess that's a cultural thing, who knows.
I'm sure i'm missing a few other items on my trip but if you have any specific questions, please feel free to message me here directly. I'd love to help! Ultimately, your experience will be what you make of it. To Guest Services and the Barcelo staff, thank you for making me and my family's vacation a great success!
- Also Known As:
- Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe Hotel
- Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe Hotel Punta Cana
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Barceló Bávaro Palace Deluxe*****, a unique and unrepeatable locationon the best beach of Punta Cana, protected by a coral reef that converts the sea into a natural swimming pool.This an all-inclusive luxury gastronomic hotel is a new concept in luxury on the best beach in Punta Cana.All the rooms have terrace and sea views (front or partial) and jacuzzi for two persons with hydrotherapy, Well-being of the latest generation. ... more less
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