Just returned from my trip and spent 3-4 nights at this hotel. I read a bunch of the reviews on TripAdvisor and looked up room tips. Ahead of time, I requested a front facing room on an upper level in Building 38 since it was relatively close to the beach. I have stayed at a number of all inclusives in DR and Mexico. My room didn't have the musty smell but my bathroom had a slight musty smell. I think it was due to the lack of proper ventilation.
Service - The service at this resort was great for the most part -> other than the restaurants. Reception explained everything clearly to us and the bell boy was helpful. Majority of the workers greet you and try to chat with you. Our room service was also delivered in 30 mins. Concierge helped us print our boarding passes since there isn't a printer available in the business center. Though I thought it was weird that the receptionist couldn't do it for us and made us wait till the next day for the concierge. Everybody works hard from what I saw. I saw maintenance workers using machetes to trim the overgrown grass from the pathways. The hotel could have bought a lawn trimmer which would've been more efficient. Pool waiters usually took drink orders from guests for 1-2 hours in the afternoon but the bar is a short walk away if you couldn't find them.
The service at the restaurants (Thalassa and Cata Tapa) was slow to the point where people who arrived after me finished their meals and left before I did. I understand things are slower in the Caribbean but it wasn't like that in the Bahamas, T&C, Mexico or the other DR resorts I have been to. At Thalassa, I waited 1.5 hours for my entree and finally the waiter came over to tell me it would be out soon. I guess he saw my annoyed facial expression. I don't know if our food orders were missed or moved down the line or what happened but I was pretty irritated over that. Other guests were annoyed too and I saw alot of people walking out rather than order dessert. My waiter tried to chase me down because he was surprised I didn't want dessert but after waiting so long to eat my entrees, I didn't want to wait another 30 mins for dessert. So management should try improving the efficiency of the kitchen and restaurant service. I also found the maid service to be a little spotty. The shampoos and soaps were replenished but my hand towel wasn't. The bed was always made but the floors were not cleaned/sweeped.
Food - This brings me to food. It was pretty much as expected based on other people's past experiences. The food looks pretty but is bland for the most part at all the restaurants and room service. The only thing that I felt that was properly seasoned was the Catalonia appetizer at Cata Tapa. Dessert was also a bit of a disappointment. I didn't like the chocolate cake or the profiteroles at all and I usually love ALL things with chocolate. Most of the other dishes, I had to add my own salt and pepper to season it. At Thalassa, I was liberally pouring the pepper into my lobster bisque. I was also surprised that a lobster dish required a surcharge of $20. All of the other all-inclusives that I have been to usually provide this at no additional charge. Room service was also simple but if you wanted to do substitutes, forget it unless you know Spanish. It was always a surprise when we got our food from room service but not a big deal for us.
Beach - Similar to other reviews, there is a lot of seaweed. The crew does rake the seaweed but there is still quite a bit. I think it mainly depends on the weather. On a windy day, it seemed as if there was alot more seaweed in the water and on the sand. On a clear day, there was a manageable amount but it is still there. I don't think the beach was the main selling point. It isn't a flat bed of sand. Instead there is a slight drop from the beach loungers to the sand by the water. Also the sand isn't powdery white or clean like the Turks and Caicos sand. There is some debris in it. I thought it was great that they had a wheel chair accessible flat platform and reserved palapa/loungers for guests with mobility issues.
Finishes/Overall Construction - The rooms are big. You have a huge bathroom, a bed area, a sitting area and a balcony. The resort's lawn and plants were nice. However, I felt that the overall construction and finishes were shoddy and seemed rushed. For instance, the grout work in between the tiles were done without much thought and varied noticeably. The walls and paint were also chipped here and there. The stone pathways were not leveled and because of that, there were a lot of puddles that we had to walk through. When it rained, the open air tiled corridors were extremely slippery and the wooden steps for the building creaked so bad that it felt as if it would break apart under our feet. We usually took the wooden steps on the other side to avoid this.
Chair Hoarding - So this was something I didn't see too much about on other people's posts. I went to the infinity pool at 9:30 am on my first day thinking that I could just relax and eat my breakfast before getting a lounger. The loungers around the infinity pool were pretty much taken at this point and there were no umbrellas available. So the next day, I planned on waking up early to get a good spot. Since my balcony overlooks the pool, I saw the cushioned loungers by the infinity pool were already taken at 7am... I don't know if the staff reserves these chairs for guests staying in villas or if they're tipped by guests to reserve it. But it was pretty annoying because I would see these cushioned loungers reserved by towels but the guests wouldn't arrive till 1pm to use them. FYI- the cushioned loungers around the infinity pool get the best sun in the afternoon and the other chairs are plastic and do not have cushions. So maybe it would be smarter to just make all the loungers the same and cushioned or just have reserve signs with the villa's guests names on it. I was pretty peeved about this because I expected this to happen at the large all inclusives like the one next door and I thought that at an adults only all-inclusive this wouldn't happen.
I feel that this hotel has a lot of room for improvements and it is above average. The staff and the service makes this hotel. Management needs to fix the poor restaurant service, bland food, spotty maid service, and chair hoarding issue. Those are fixes that are manageable. The finishes/construction would be harder to change. I don't think I would return to this hotel since there are so many others to try in the Caribbean.
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- Also Known As:
- Catalonia Royal Bavaro Hotel Punta Cana
- Catalonia Royal Bavaro Punta Cana
- Royal Catalonia Bavaro