Transfer from the airport takes around 1.5 hrs but we didn't mind as the views are spectacular! The animation team from the hotel welcomes new arriving guests with lovely music and dance. Same when you're leaving. They play a song made specially for Bahia Principe to say 'adios' and thank you to the guests and we felt we were leaving friends behind. My boys cried all the way to the airport and still beg me to return this summer although we went on holidays elsewhere afterwards. :)
Hotel grounds are spotless, hotel itself is really clean and lovely and then there's the beach!!! And what a beach it is! Unspoilt, with no hotels in sight, all you can see is the lovely pale sand, clear water and palm trees. Sand is swept daily by staff so no seaweed etc. A true paradise. We used to take walks by the beach all the way to Las Terrenas.
Animation team works hard to keep you entertained but they won't annoy you if you do not want to join in. Hope Casanova still works there, he will keep you smiling all day :) The pool was kept clean and water was nice although it wouldn't cool you down much :)
The weather, although in the middle of a rainy season, was amazing. Hot, humid and sunny, although during our 2 weeks stay there were maybe 3 showers during the day and they were surprisingly cold but lasted no more that 30 minutes and brought freshness to the air. I know it rained at night a few times, at 3 am or so but the sky was always cloudless by the time we woke up.
Food in the main restaurant was delicious. Did not bother to use any of the a'la carte restaurants. Caviar, smoked salmon and cava for breakfast, great choice for lunch and dinner, different themes every day and fantastic coffee. Waiters did not speak much English but we loved it this way as we were kind of forced to practise our poor Spanish :) They all work very hard and I regret I am bad with names as some of the staff really deserve to be mentioned and praised. One of the managers in the restaurant became my 2 years old son's best buddy, he treated us like VIPs and made sure we always got a nice table. We thought he was just working for his tips but when we tried to tip him generously at the end of our 2 weeks stay he looked a bit offended, refused to take the money and gave us all bear hugs instead. The waitress who used to serve us remembered our drink preferences and from the second day she made sure drinks were waiting for us and high chairs ready for our sons upon seeing us entering the restaurant. Again, she refused the tip at the end but happily accepted for her niece some baby toiletries and a bag of Pampers nappies that my son didn't get to use there. What lovely, kind, warm people they are (all apart from the ignorant staff in reception, who used to take their time doing anything giving you the impression that you are wasting their time).
Overall, whatI love most about this hotel is that they really made you feel that you were on a tropical island and did not try to make it look like home away from home. They played lovely Latin American tunes by the pool instead of boring hits you hear on every radio station back home, ran bachata and merengue dance classes on the beach, served deliciously cold Banana Mama and Coco Loco in the beach bar. Everything was different, everything felt exotic, everything screamed holidays...
...well, maybe apart from our second last day there (thankfully it was not one of the first days as this review would have been so much different) when I woke up at 2 am to a sound of scratching in the room. Switched the light on only to find a rat the size of a cat in the corner. My husband tried to scare it away, it stood on its hind legs and hissed at us, we threw a pillow at it and it ran and jumped right into a cot beside our bed, in which my baby son was sleeping peacefully. That must have been the most horrifying moment of my life! Eventually it escaped into the bathroom and dissapeared. We rang the reception and they sent a maintenance guy over who discovered that the rat had made a hole in the air vent cover in the jacuzzi bath. The man had that cover replaced but I just didn't feel comfortable being in the bathroom anymore and we kept the door closed at all times. It did spoil our holidays a bit (well, I am petrified of rodents) but it also reminded us that although the resort is local 5*, it is still in a Third World country and once you see the conditions in which local people have to live (you will pass tiny villages on your way from the airport), you will feel embarrased complaining to them about one little rat who might have trotted past your precious Louis Vuitton suitcase (even if that rat happens to be bigger than my cat).
A few tips:
- if you have small children and like us prefer walks over any other type of transport, please keep in mind that if you decide to take a walk to Las Terrenas, the footpaths are non existing and the bits that are there are cracked by tree roots and you will end up pushing your buggy on the road :)
- it is worth taking walks to Las Terrenas by the beach as you might discover you are the only people in sight and don't forget camera for those "desert island" photos
- if you wish to take a taxi to Las Terrenas, the reception will tell you to let them know and they will have a taxi organised for you (they get their share), that pleasure will cost you $10-we did that on one occasion, but if you walk out of the hotel gate you will see the same taxi drivers waiting for a call from the reception and if you decide to take a taxi from here, you will only pay $1-2, at least that's what they charged us :D
- our boys thought the stroll to Las Terrenas was the best thing ever as they got to see 5 grown up men riding on 1 motorbike :) and also a huge dead blowfish (balloonfish?) on the beach
- the hotel shop is expensive, esp. nappies but again if you leave the hotel by the front gate and head right, you will find a 'minimarket' a few minutes away and the same nappies will only cost you a third or less of the hotel price (they looked shocked when we asked for the whole pack of nappies, they normally sell them individually), also shops in Las Terrenas sell good local produce, eg. coffee beans or dried tropical fruits for great gifts, jewellery or paintings from Haiti.
- we took a day trip to Samana which was lovely as boys loved the speedboat which showed us around mangroves and took us to a beautiful island with glorious white sand (again forgot the name)
- the hotel photographer used to offer family photo sessions on the beach or anywhere you liked for around $100, which were lovely but we thought it was a bit expensive so didn't take it but regret it now as we do not have many photos together as a whole family, always someone missing from the photograph
Remember you are not going to Monte Carlo and you will have a time of your life. Enjoy your holidays x
We stayed in a room located on the ground floor with another floor above us, each with own entrance...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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First let me inform you that your opinion is valuable to us, therefore we are extremely proud and happy for having left a pleasant memory. We are especially appreciating your positive comments about of our facilities and our beautiful beach. Comments like that you send us, are what motivate us as a team every day to improve the quality of service we offer.
Once more we are sorry for the inconveniences in your room that you have experienced; your disappointment is ours to rectify, and to ensure that our guests do not leave with letdown feelings but rather those of satisfaction. As our goals are to fulfill those and meet our guests’ expectations, to turn the negative into the positive with finding solutions to our problems, we wish to welcome you back at our best and effective treatment.
We hope to welcome you again at Grand Bahia Principe El Portillo. Please feel free to contact us at the following address whenever you are planning to come back: email@example.com
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.