Who will like : People who want a relaxing quiet atmosphere, beautiful sandy beaches, calm waters and amazing snorkeling.
Who will hate: Partygoers and body surfers
This is our second time at this resort. The first time we've ever decided to go back to the same place. In the last five years we've been to resorts in Barbados, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Saint-Lucia and Mexico.
I will probably be repeating some of the same things as others, it will just serve to reinforces the truth.
Transfer and arrival:
Air Transat (flying Canjet) from Montreal to Samana was organized and uneventful. Took the new road that cuts the time in half to 45 minutes. Were were given our documentation for the resort on the bus. Getting off the bus we didn't have enough hands for everything the welcoming committee handed us: Cold towel, welcome drink and cookies. A special table was setup to give us our room keys, didn't even have to go to the front desk.
Royal Golden Junior suite:
For an extra 60$ per person we got the junior suite and though it was worth it. You get a bigger room, nicer bathroom (with single, not double, whirlpool bath and separate shower). you also have your bath robe, slippers and complimentary rum. The beach towels are already in your room. We also appreciated the Iron and board. Last time we were here 4 years ago, in a regular room, we had to beg the maid to loan us one for an hour. You also get turn down service every night. Only wish they left chocolates on my pillow instead of mints. You also get room service but we did not try it out.
You get access to The Club House. This is great on the first day to reserve you're a la carte restaurants. It also gives you access to 2 computers, this use to be useful, but no longer since they installed wifi in the main lobby for everyone having a laptop, tablet or smartphone.
The room upon our arrival was very clean. The maid were very generous with water ( 2 X. 1.5 liter bottles per day) The rooms were often only made late in the afternoon, so the day we decided to take a late afternoon nap, we didn't get room service.
The maids don't do towel art (exept the first day). Too bad, it's frivolous but nice.
My wife found that the bathroom sink was a bit clogged, she also though that the maids could do a better job of passing the broom.
Location of room:
We wanted a first floor suite close to the beach and got second floor in building 10 at the back end of the resort. We decided to try it out before complaining because it gave us access to a private pool between building 10, 11 and 12. We tried it and stayed. to pool only has 12 lounge chairs so the bar man is not very busy and very attentive. it is virtually empty until about 3 pm when the wind picks up on the beach.
The only disadvantage to our location was that you could hear the music from the outdoor plaza (pueblo principe) from 10 pm to 11 pm. Not that it was loud enough to stop us from sleeping (ya we're early risers).
This is a smaller resort so even if we were at the backend (building 10) things were still close. Last year we were at Iberostar pareiso beach resort in the riviera maya, now that is a sprawled out resort (but still very nice). The resort is also in the middle of nowhere. you can walk for miles along the beach, with some houses but mostly just palm trees.
This was the biggest improvement from when we were here 4 years ago. Staff were much more attentive, many more spoke english (and to our surprise, french). At some points, during peak hours, we had to wait for service, the waiters were running around trying to do their best , with the staff they had. Once they got to us they were always smiling and friendly. They work very hard, I always appreciated the efforts they made. It made all the difference to an agreable stay. At one point I noticed a LOT of supervisors making sure that everything was O.K.. Personnally, you could see the staff knew what had to be done. Fire a few of the excess supervisors and hire more waiters.
Best snorkeling I've had off a resort beach, at low tide you can feed the fish without even being in the water. There are coral heads for the fish, yet between the coral you have a beautiful sandy bottom. Because of the coral, there are no big waves (great for small children). This also means it is not the best place for sailing but best of all, NO JET SKIES.
We found the food very good. It is not the most expansive buffet we've ever seen, but every day one part of the buffet changed depending of the theme. There was always fish, chicken , beef and pork in different international dishes which were very tasty. Yes, for the finicky (I say unimaginative) eater there is the pasta bar and the pizza bar. There was no grill for those that want hamburgers and hot dogs. you had to create them piece meal.
we only tried the seafood and the french restaurant. They were O.K. (no more) but the setting was nice. Some items were very good, some not. At the french restaurant my wife had a great smoked tartar salmon. I asked for another and they gladly obliged. We had reservation for the italian, but when we went and read the menu, we were uninspired an chose to eat at the buffet. The Asian ( I think) restaurant was closed for renovation when we arrived. but at the end it had re-opened.
Seemed to be mostly Canadians (french and english) some german, hispanic,and on weekends, upper class (if i rely on the brand of cars in the parking lot) Dominicans. A lot of families with small children.
The pool bars:
At the main pool bar there is a self serve slush machine with piña colada and banana mama. and beside it a bottle of white and dark rhum, YYYYYYYYESSSS, Finally a resort that understands me. No I'm not a drunk, but I don't like my drinks watered down either. Also the pool for building 10, 11 and 12 has it's own barman. Since there are only 12 deck chairs, after our second day, he would see us and he knew our usual and would bring us without even asking. Now THAT is service.
The main pool is small compared to some resorts where the pool meanders throughout the place.
Be it on the beach or around the pool, there were always chairs available. We were there during what I would think is peak season (December 26th to January 2nd) and we always wondered where everyone was, because it sure wasn't crowded.
We saw the lion king musical and a Michael Jackson tribute but in each case left half way though. Looking at all the empty seats, the entertainment did not seem very popular.
if you want to buy rum, coffee, cigars, walk out of the resort, turn right, walk about 10 minutes (past the end of the disaffected runway and just past the curve). You will see a small grocery Store (with an El Presidente beer sign, if memory serves). Stuff is about 40 percent cheaper that in the resort boutiques.
- Also Known As:
- Gran Bahia Principe El Portillo Hotel Las Terrenas
- Gran Bahia Principe El Portillo Hotel
- Gran Bahia Principe El Portillo
- El Portillo Beach Resort
- El Portillo
- Grand Bahia Principe El Portillo Las Terrenas, Samana, Dominican Republic
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