First off, I’ve been reading some of the latest reviews and I just can’t believe people have bad things to say about this place. We’ve stayed at several different resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean and found this to be the most beautiful we’ve ever stayed at. We never witnessed anyone walking on the coral (wouldn’t you cut your feet?) We never saw any garbage in the water. All staff was helpful and friendly and they handled any requests quickly.
My husband and I stayed here for the first two weeks of June and absolutely loved this resort. Our trip was booked with Westjet Vacations. The flights were on time and the bus picked us up right outside Samana airport. The bus did not take the toll road on the way there (but did on the way back). It took us well over an hour to get to the resort from the airport and we were already tired from our two flights plus short layover in Toronto. Still, we were able to enjoy the beautiful Dominican countryside during the bus trip. Did not find the bus trip to be uncomfortable in any way.
Check in at the resort was quick and easy. They took care of our bags and took us in a small trolley type car to our junior suite in Villa #9. We were on the main floor here which suited us. No going up and down stairs. I’ve read that some people find these blocks too far from the main area. We did not find this at all. It was a very short two minute walk to the Pueblo Principe (the shops, disco, and outdoor show area). Only a four minute walk to the main buffet area, reception, lobby, and a five minute walk (MAX) to the beach. We were very close to the quiet pool which we had to ourselves on two separate afternoons. And yes, the bar at the quiet pool was open.
Our room was clean and comfortable with a king bed (as requested). The bathrom had a jetted tub (we did not use) and a separate shower. There was always hot water for the shower no matter what time of the day we used it. The water pressure was not the greatest but this is normal in pretty much all resorts and hotels these days – they all use water savers. The maid service was very good – there was a different towel art/animal each day. The cutest was the towel lamb. We left a tip for the maids every day and the room was always clean – always had fresh towels. Others we met said the air conditioning in their rooms was not great and that they had trouble sleeping because it was too warm. The air conditioning in our room worked VERY well and I even had to get a blanket one night. We had a main floor balcony which faced a beautiful garden area.
The resort area itself is gorgeous. The most beautiful landscaping I’ve ever seen at a resort and very well kept. Beautiful trees, palms, shrubs, and flowers everywhere. We saw many hummingbirds diving in and out of the shrubs during our stay. There were banana trees as well as coconut palms. Breathtakingly beautiful resort all around. The beach itself was very nice. The calmest waters I’ve ever encountered (except maybe Diamante beach which is on the north coast of the Dominican). The coral reef at the resort here keeps the waves away and the waters calm. Very safe for swimming, snorkelling, or just taking dips to cool off. The beach goes on forever….
We did not spend a lot of time at the main pool. We preferred the beach for the most part. However, the pool was clean (although warm).
We spent a few afternoons at the quiet pool by our Villa. We had the pool to ourselves two of three times. The bar was open and it was quiet and very beautiful here. Very relaxing. There were only three other people on the other day we were here. The water here was also warm but still helped to cool you off if you were basking in the hot sun.
Never had issues with finding chairs at the beach or the pools. Sometimes you had to walk a ways down the beach to find a chair with a cabana but you could find one eventually. There are chairs that go a LONG way down the beach. There were many many beach chairs available if you were okay with sitting in the sun the whole time. It might be different during high season – don’t know. If I had to guesss, I’d say the resort was at about 60% capacity while we were there.
We ate breakfast every day at the main buffet. I got the omelette every single morning and enjoyed them every day. Also had fresh pineapple and bacon every day for breakfast accompanied by coffee and orange juice. My husband got a variety of different things every day. Breakfast was very good with a lot of variety, coffee was good, service most days was very good. There were a few days when they were slow clearing the tables and bringing coffee. However, we were on holidays and not really in any hurry.
We had lunch most days at the beach snack bar. They had pizza, hamburgers, fries, and hot dogs – standard snack bar food. However, they also had a variety of fresh fruits, mini wraps, sandwiches, rice dishes, chicken, and calamari among other things. Better than standard lunch snack bars at most other resorts. The main buffet was also open for lunch and had more variety but we only ate there once. We preferred to stay by the beach and enjoyed the snack bar.
We ate dinner at the main buffet nearly every night. We tried two of the a la carte restaurants – the seafood and the gourmet. We found them to be just okay and so did not book any others. We preferred the dinner buffet as many others have already said. The best part of the a la cartes was the seafood soup which was very good. At the main buffet, there was a different item at the carvery every night. One night it was roast turkey, another it was roast pork, another it was lamb, another it was ham, another it was roast beef, another it was beef wellington and another it was some kind of stuffed fish. The stuffed fish was the only carvery item I did not like. They also have the made to order pasta at dinner. Although good, I only had the pasta once as there were many items to choose from – from the salad bar, veggies, rice dishes, meat dishes, fish, and so on. There was also jumbo shrimp one night in fourteen and lobster one night of the fourteen. The lobster was not the jumbo lobster you would order in a restaurant but was still tasty and was cooked well enough not to worry. We ate outside for dinner every night – we preferred to be outside anyway – but the interior buffet was stiflingly hot at dinner time. I would not be able to sit in there for very long although there were some who did.
I cannot comment on late night snacks despite asking about this prior to our trip. We were rarely up late. We were up early every day and in bed early most nights. The nights we did stay up we were not hungry as we normally ate a lot at dinner.
We only took in a few of the evening shows. We saw part of the Michael Jackson tribute which took place in the indoor entertainment area. We found it way too hot in there to stay for long. We saw the Mr. Bahia contest/show which took place at the outdoor Pueblo Principe area. Also saw the International show. These were mildly entertaining and funny but do not expect too much.
We preferred spending our evenings just relaxing in the lounge or walking around anyway. Some nights we walked down to the beach and just gazed up at the stars (wear lots of bug-spray if you do this). We met a group of people our first week who we sat and drank with in the lounge most nights. The servers there are very good and friendly. Loved the guy with the drink cart – he always made us smile. All the waitresses were good but our favourite waitress was Martina – she was absolutely fantastic. She made the best drinks and she kept them coming. She also remembered what you liked to drink from night to night. The frozen strawberry daiquiris were very good, especially if you needed something icy cold to drink.
The cappuccino here was also very good. Had it several times. They also had a coffee bar set up in the main buffet on a few different occasions. I loved the Spanish coffee the most. Yum.
I should have booked with a local tour company. It was my original plan but we decided to just book with the hotel. We went on the jeep safari which visited Santa Barbara de Samana, a plantation, an iguana zoo, and the beautiful Playa Rincon. We ended up spending well over 6 hours on that bus…. we drove through Santa Barbara de Samana twice, the first time driving to the market area – and we weren’t allowed to get out and look around or shop! Playa Rincon was amazing – the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen with the mountains in the backdrop and the crystal clear waters. However, we spent most of the day sitting on that bus taking a very round-about route from Las Terrenas to Samana, back up to the north, then back south to Samana again, then back up to Las Terrenas. There was also no option for lobster lunch like we were told there would be. Next time we go with a local recommended tour company. You live and learn.
Yes, it is extra for the safe. I think it worked out to $56 for the two weeks. Did not have a problem with this. Some places charge you extra, some don’t.
Areas that could use improvement:
The main buffet should be air conditioned. The lounge area was also very hot. It is an open area lounge, therefore is not air conditioned. There are several ceiling fans however these do not do much at all. I don’t know if it’s always this hot in the lounge or if it was just because we were there in June. They might want to install more fans – many people were just sweating and using the drink menus as air fans. However, having said that it still did not keep me from sitting in the lounge many nights we were there.
The banana mamas: I previously had these at another Dominican resort and LOVED LOVED them so much. Here, they were runny instead of slushy and you could hardly taste the banana. Not a big deal – I just had other drinks instead. It was a bit disappointing but hardly something to deter me from this gorgeous resort.
Overall, we really enjoyed our stay here. We had sun every day – not a single drop of rain. We thought the food was very good, the grounds outstanding, the beach beautiful. The servers great, the pools nice. Would return in a heartbeat assuming the price was right. Already missing the beautiful beach.....
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Facilities and services 2 pools Jacuzzi Sun terrace with loungers and sun umbrellas Pool and beach towel service BAHIA SPA (additional charge) Sports facilities: gym, tennis court, basketball court, volleyball net on the beach Water activity and scuba diving centre WiFi access in the lobby (1h per day free of charge) and in rooms (additional charge) Entertainment theatre Main buffet restaurant and 3 a la carte restaurants 4 Bars Snack-bar Pueblo Principe: local craft stores, live music, shows, bars and disco. Rooms 462 rooms including 4 types: Standard, Club Golden Junior Suite, Club Hacienda Junior Suite and Superior Junior Suite. Junior Suites are larger than Standard rooms. Room facilities: King size bed or 2 full size beds Fully-equipped bathroom with hydromassage bath tub, shower, hair dryer and magnifying mirror Air conditioning Ceiling fan Terrace or balcony Telephone Radio alarm clock Satellite TV Coffee-making facilities Mini-bar Safe (with additional charge) WiFi (additional charge) Ironing set (available on request) Superior Junior Suite: balcony or terrace, sitting area with sofa-bed, ironing set, coffee-making facilities, private guest service phone line, umbrella, VIP amenities. Club Golden and Club Hacienda Junior suites (See page 18 Club Golden, Club Hacienda) Children Bahia Scouts The hotel is perfect for families, offering a range of facilities tailored especially for children, including the following: Children's pool Mini Club with daytime activities Evening Mini Disco Babysitting service (additional charge) Bahia Scout Water park Other services Medical service (additional charge) Pharmacy (additional charge) Bus stop opposite the hotel Personalised diets on request and subject to circumstances Specialised service for organising weddings, incentive trips, events and anniversaries ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Gran Bahia Principe El Portillo Hotel Las Terrenas
- El Portillo Beach Resort
- Grand Bahia Principe El Portillo Las Terrenas, Samana, Dominican Republic