As the second review of Gran Bahia Principe El Portillo, this represents the second week of our two week visit, Dec 29/12 to Jan 12/13. Our first week was in building 11 and our second week was in building 5. We had originally asked for a building close to the front, say 3, 5 or 7, since we were travelling with the in-laws who have mobility difficulties. Building 5 was right beside the main lobby entrance and was perfect for us. Building 5 is reserved for their Golden Club level and while the room size is the same there are some enhancements. Golden Club rooms have opaque glass for the shower door and the toilet room door. There was no toilet door in building 11. Golden Club rooms also have an iron and mini ironing board. Night time turndown service is provided and they refresh the towels twice a day. Building 11 does not have this service. We were offered to pay $5/person/day to upgrade to the other Golden Club perks but we declined. The other perks were access to a small club room off the main lobby that had two computers available for surfing and a very basic bar that had more upscale booze. The other perk was 24 hour room service. We had reviewed the simple menu for room service and were disappointed with the offering. There were no breakfast items, with the offerings left to a burger/fries, hot dog/fries, nachos, a veggie sandwich and a Caesar salad with chicken. After 11pm, the night time menu shrunk a bit and removed hot French fries. In all buildings, the absence of an ice machine and ice bucket is weird.
Overall, the junior suite rooms provide lots of living space and the maid service is good. One good tip is to bring 60 or 100 watt light bulbs. The light fixtures are all low wattage and it is difficult to read by the light provided.
We enjoyed the three ala carte restaurants. We went as a group of 13 plus a baby and found the time between courses was long. When we went again with just a table of 4, the timing between courses was very comfortable, and in one case, too fast. I would recommend splitting up big groups at the ala cartes. Only the gourmet restaurant requires long pants, collared shirt and closed toed shoes for the guys. The girls can wear daisy dukes and a halter top with flip flops and they will let them in! But please let me vent. While guys can wear shorts and sandals in the seafood and Mediterranean, please don't. Let’s all dress up and look nice and enjoy the special service and food.
The beautiful beach is the real selling point for this resort. The offshore reefs really do a great job removing the waves hitting the beach. The 9 month old baby can sit on the edge and splash without fear of being knocked over. The two pools here are very small but the beach here beats overrides that concern. The reefs just offshore cause the waves to crash 300-400 metres from the shore. By the time the kinetic energy is spent on the coral you have little or no waves on the shore. Tons of loungers. Not a lot around the pools, since the pools are small. During our second week the weather was very windy. The sand was blowing and the east end of the beach was deserted. We found when it was windy the people went the west side of the sandy point by the beach grill. We got loungers back from the main beach edge parallel with the beach bar. Under a palapa and out of the wind. Still on the great sand though. Some music and noise comes from the animation team with their dancing and exercizing. No Russians found. Spanish, lots of french canadians, finland, germany, really no Brits to speak of. Main language is spanish and second would be french. English is difficult to talk to with the staff but enough to get around.
By the way, the Beach grill is amazing. Lots of tables and chairs overlooking the ocean. Buffet is fresh and tasty. Great service. No need to go to the big buffet. They call the beach grill a snack bar but it has a full service bar plus a really large lunch buffet with soups, salads, pasta, rice, at least three types of meat on top of the make it yourself burger/hot dog bar.
We had pictures taken by the hotel photo team and it was very well organized. On site photo place does not take credit or debit cards. Cash only. $150 set only gives you 10 pictures on a disk. Every picture after that is 15 bucks until you give them $400 and then it drops to 40 pictures for 400 bucks. No haggling also. Take it or leave it. The ATM is on site at the lobby and you can only get out 10,000 pesos each day. Got 10,000 pesos for $254.03 Canadian. That is with a 195 peso fee at the machine. $39.37 peso to the Canadian dollar.
Had a lot of nice talks with Guy from Air Canada Vacations. Genuine helpful with no sales pressure. He was surprised to hear about our problems in bldg#11 and asked if there was anything further to bring it to his attention first before the hotel. He will go to bat for us. The bad days of Joel frustrating Air Canada travellers is gone with Guy now doing the north shore of Samana and Joel working the south shore.
At breakfast in the main buffet, about every other day they have a table set up with Smirnoff’s vodka, tomato juice and orange juice with champagne. Only Tabasco sauce and salt and pepper. Bring a container of Mott's rimmer, I wish I had. No lee and perrons also.
One thing I did miss is horseradish. There is a lot of great beef here and the horseradish would be most welcomed. The one night we had shrimp, there was no seafood sauce. Mixing ketchup with horseradish gets you close and with some lemon and the great garlic sauce that is here for the salads, I think you would be good to go. There are always lots of fish here, but little or no shrimp or shellfish.
They have Baileys and other liquors on the shelf but that is all extra. An ounce of Baileys was like 5 bucks.
We are most impressed with how clean and tidy the resort is. We can see that this resort has been added onto via the purchase by GBP but we can see that the old buildings look the same as the new buildings. I walked down to the corner store, to the right outside the main gate, about an 8 minute walk. Basic household goods and snack items. A can of Pringles was 110 peso. $5 on the resort. Bought amber rum Brugal 1 litre for $10 .64. And the extra dark for $12.50. The cheapest bottle of red wine was $15.50. Coffee by the bean was 315 to 335 peso per bag depending on how dark you wanted. In the buffet they have a Popsicle with 3 flavours, apple, raspberry and grape. In the store they are 15 peso per bar. A bottle of baileys was 815 peso.
Overall don't worry about coming here. The General Manager and the Assistant Managers are very visible and approachable. They are truly interested in your concerns and will go and make sure whatever needs fixing will be looked after. This is a very clean family resort with a fantastic 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