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“Beautiful from the outside but not so pretty from the inside” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Grand Bahia Principe El Portillo

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Grand Bahia Principe El Portillo
3.5 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Carretera las Terrenas, El Limon Km. 4, Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic (Formerly El Portillo Beach Resort)   |  
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Hotel amenities
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Ranked #8 of 35 Hotels in Las Terrenas
Certificate of Excellence
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
2 reviews
“Beautiful from the outside but not so pretty from the inside”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 4, 2010

I'll start of with the negative experiences I went through with my partner and information I gathered.

STAFF:
As an English speaking tourist I had allot of communication problems in this hotel. Within the hotel staff and tourist are mainly Spanish/Portuguese/Italian. I experienced allot of negative reactions to when I wasn't able to speak Spanish with the male staff in general. The reactions would often be a silence with a very irritated look or a slightly irritated voice.

I was travelling with my partner we are both women. We got allot of sexism remarks from the male staff working there, Sometimes a bit too much. As two women travelling we expected some of this to happen. But after a while it got quite annoying. And sometimes if we didn't react to it we got irritated reactions as well.

The rooms were very clean, our cleaner was Dominga and she did an excellent job and also the house keeping staff in general was excellently mannered. The only bad thing about this hotel is that they get below a minimum income. For the hours and amount of work they do I do not think this is right. I am not sure about the income of other staff.



The hotel is a resort ( very large ) has a long stretched beach good for running or long romantic walks. Its mainly very calm but I quickly understood why I would never see any fishermen or locals selling their own products on the beach. It was very limited as people selling products on the hotels beach needed a permit to be able to walk on the hotels beach or in their water. Which isolates you from being in touch with local Dominicans. The Dominican charm of getting freshly fished lobster on the beach by a local is for instance something you will never see here. Because their permit will be rejected. I also think it is important for tourists to understand that hotels like these take away the ground from locals and make it impossible for them to enjoy "their" sea.

Entertainment In general was very good in this hotel. However at the end of our week we encountered staff on the beach walking around with a monkey on his shoulder. Many tourists had pictures taken with this. Because it at first sight looks very cute and exotic and an attempt to get a nice picture of yourself with a monkey is almost irresistibly. However when I asked the man if the monkey was held in captivity and what his diet was I do not think any tourist should support this either.



The location:

This hotel is located in a unexplored area for tourists. So the tourism rate is very low which makes it a beautiful location to stay and get in touch with locals in smaller towns close by. The jungle is literally starting at the beach at some points and the green mountains on the back make it a national geographic shot to enjoy live.

I would not recommend this hotel to someone despite of its beauty and wide spread choice in entertainment and delicious food. Because I do not think staff is is housekeeping is earning the right ammount of income for the ammount of hours put into a day. I am almost certain other staff in the hotel is also getting underpaid.

If you are somebody who wants to get in touch with the country and people I'd recommend a smaller hotel and not a massive production hotel like this one. The smaller the hotel the more personal it gets. Try to keep the fair trade in mind when it comes to locals and animal rights. I sometimes get the idea that the island is being "re-discovered" and claimed again by such massive hotels.

Thank you

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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Lisbon
Level Contributor
29 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 2, 2010

This is a very good hotel in a great beach but it does not deserve the 5th-star.

The beach is fabulous, the rooms are thoroughly cleaned everyday, the overall amenities are good, and the staff is very friendly.

However there are some issues. If you have some sort of trouble (like a malfunctioning door lock) you will have to complain once and twice before someone actually tries to help you. Besides, it is a bit annoying that you cannot exchange the beach towels after 6pm.

The main restaurant is very good but the others (À La Carte) are disappointing.

Be careful about the swimming pool... the water is warm and desirable... but many ear infections occur there. I got one.

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Scotland, Maryland
Level Contributor
13 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 1, 2010

Upon arrival to the hotel after 1 hour 40 mins transfer time I expected to receive a drink of some sort as my children were really thirsty but there weren't any. We were given information packages on the coach and really had to find our own way to the room following a map and then the cases would be sent up later. We had a junior suite which was really spacious and clean. The room itself smelt a bit damp but I think this was due to the humidty of the climate. Unfortunately the toilet seat was broken and this took 6 days to get it fixed. We found that when you turned on the jacuzzi in the bathroom stale water came out so we gave that one a miss. Must say that the maid service was excellent everyday although as mentioned previously the towels were really hard and off white.

The food was not good at all. Myself and daughter ended up with a bad stomach most days. We tried to cut out what we thought may be upsetting our stomachs but we couldn't pin point it to one major thing. We did notice that the food was being tested on the second week by people re: food temps, so may be they are sorting it out. The food was not hot at all in the main restaurant. The burgers in the snack bar were also warm and rubbery and it was off putting having this food outside where flies would be landing on it. Tried the speciality restaurants and these were better but unfortunately on the second week these were fully booked.

The kids club was a bit hit and miss even though on the door of the mini club hut states that it opens at 9.00 it doesn't. My youngest daugther played darts at 11.00 one day but really did not interest her enough to want to go back again.

Unfortunately my youngest daughter ended up with an ear infection. The doctor at the hotel said there had been quite a few ear infections. I think this was probably the swimming pool. It was very mucky as most people would come in from the beach and then go straight into the pool. It was very busy at the weekends when the locals came.

For the entertainment in the evening you had to walk up to near the main entrance of the hotel. On one occasion we walked up after dinner at about 8 when I went to the bar which was a tressle table with spirits lined up and asked for a beer they said they did not have any beer or wine only cocktails and they would not be serving anything until another hour and a half. The drinks were served in very small plastic cups. While I can understand plastic cups in the day time around the pool I could not understand the plastic cups in the evening when people had shoes on!! Gave up with waiting for the entertainment to start although on our last night they held a really good beach party. The whole atmosphere of the hotel changed in a night. Spent most of our evenings in the lobby of the hotel where you could get cocktails in lovely glasses. We found staff at the main bar really friendly. We did learn some spanish as most of the staff do not speak English.

The beach though was really beautiful. There were always beds and you did not have to go far to snorkel.

The location is perfect but the hotel needs to up its standards to a 4*. Ideal for you if you just want a lazy beach holiday.






Was really disappointed with the hotel. On the first day we had a broken toilet seat

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Texas City, Texas
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 23, 2010

Had the best week of my life.
Food is great.
Beaches are OK but not as great as in the pictures.
Great snorking.
A bit of noise early in the morning with cleaning and gardening.
Drinks are too cheap and not great. The local beer is amazing and cold tough!
Will be back for two weeks next time.
Neibourhood is a bit dangerous.
Don't believe on the bad reviews, most of these people left their houses to have a bad time themselves.
The hotel is great and people smille all the time. Go and have fun@!

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Torquay, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
16 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 22, 2010

Just returned from 2 weeks with my wife, and two sons (17 and 12).
First Choice Rep (Farzana) has to be the best ever, and we have travelled to many hotels. She is so helpfull and even offers to buy essentials off site if you don't want to leave the complex.
Having read other comments, it is obvious that individuals expectations are so different. We are a typical 'once a year' family holiday household, and I would say that you will not be disappointed.
The beach is clean, with lovely golden sand, is kept clean, and has an amazingly warm and crystal clear sea which is sheltered from waves by the out lying reef. Those with young children could not wish for a safer sea/beach, and all ages will love snorkelling (Take bread from Buffet or snack bar).
The food is typical of a good quality 'all-inclusive'...not amazing, but certainly a good standard. More re-assuring is the cleanliness of the place, kitchen is like an operating theatre, hair nets are worn in kitchen/cooking areas, food was seen to be inspected by 'suits', and chefs were seen probing food with thermometers and taking pride with their workplaces (Snack bar by the beach is open from 10.30 and should be where you have lunch. The main buffet is also open for lunch but is basically same as evening so variety is good. The snack bar has a smaller kitchen and seems more personnal, and is accompanied on most days by the adjacent BBQ which you can take food from and into the snack bar seating area...inside or outside..and eat with rest of food)
There are some negatives but no more than any other holiday we have had.
Air con is good, Junior Suite excellent (2 double beds, I pull out bed, and a fitted long seating area which I often fell asleep on), Grounds are beautifull, if placed near 'back' of complex..and it really isn't that big, there is a lovely pool which is only used if you are in that area and became a great place to mix with other families on a small scale, staff are good, reception were helpfull,
We did Los Haiteses Tour (Islands and caves) and found it excellent, even the coach trip to the port of Samana was an eye opener. The guide was so full of info you couldn't help but be educated !! Also did the El Limon horse ride trip, so much fun, and sore thighs, so best left for the latter part of holiday. Both done through 1st Choice. Yes..can be dearer, but I can honestly say you feel safe and the guides are professional, all wear tidy matching marked Polos and looked organised..and made you feel welcomed.
People say beach punters are a pain..yes they are present trying to flog bracelets, paintings, wood carvings etc.., but a simple "no" is suffice and they don't intimidate.
One warning...get a safe ($54 2 weeks). We did. However I did have some food taken from the mini bar fridge, a brand new T shirt was taken, and a necklace was taken from costume jewellry case which was not in safe. This was reported, but no other guests reported any problems and rep said no other reports had been made to her previously. Just be aware. Farzana may write you a note to put in room stating you know what you have...mits off !!
You will enjo

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Plymouth, Devon
2 reviews
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 17, 2010

This is difficult to judge because last yar we went to the Riviera Mayo in Mexico & the hotel there will NEVER be beaten, however, this was damn good. My mistake was reading all these poor reviews but do you know what, they were all wrong ! This place was excellent & I would deff recommend it.
The flight from the UK was over 8 hrs & the road trip to the hotel was bad, but then the roads are not Western world status so we did expect that.
We were in villa 10 which was too far from the centre so we were moved to villa 3 2 days later. It's a Junior suite & had all we needed.
The pool is not small at all, in fact it's a great size but it did get busy at the w/e with all the locals using it.
The beach is as you would expect, pure white sands & a lovely colour sea. Snorkelling with bread for the fish was amazing.
We did 3 trips in total. The Catamaran trip was stunning. The cost was a little steep at $85 for adults & $64 for children but this was through 1st choice. The boat holds 100 people & as there was only 18 of us we had plenty of room.
We also booked Los Haitises & Cayo Levantado. This cost $90 & 68$ & was NOT worth the money. But you have to see it for yourself as we all have diff tastes.
The last trip we booked through the beach staff because it was cheaper & that was to El Limon waterfall. This was the best trip & cost $110 as they le the child go free to help boost numbers. It's a horse ride to the waterfall pulled along by boys & girls. You do feel sorry for them as they are so young with no education. We ended up giving them our watches & tee shirts, they're faces were a picture..
The entertainment is 75% audience participation. As one of the people who was volunteered to go on stage, I can only say it was terrifying at the start but was worth while. Everyone gets involved which helped a lot. The compare is amazing & speaks seven languages so bear with him as the time is going on. If you're expecting proffessional shows every night, forget it, that's not what this hotel gives you. We went to bed at 22:00 on at least 3 occassions & by 22:30 when we didnt like the show. It's not everyones taste.
Las Terrannas is 1 hr's walk away but is worth the visit, take the road there & the beach back. A taxi there was $20 return. They will wait for an hour. You wont need any longer.
I would deffo reccommend this place & hopefully go back within 5 years time. The staff are brilliant.
Oh, the restaurants. There are 4 A La Carte of which we tried 3. All were ok. But the buffet was by far the best. If one person was to ever complain about the choice of food here, then they cannot be from this world.
The Golden Club was to have a hunior suite, free internet access which is in a separate villa. No big deal really.
Enjoy..

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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New York
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 12, 2010

We have just came back from Samana... This hotel is a 2.5 star hotel. We have stayed in the last 10 years in many 5 star hotels in Punta Cana and this hotel is really bad. We stayed only 1 night and we escaped
1) We had a Golden Junior suite (no view at all and without AC)
2) Food is bad and have to wait on line to serve yourself
3) Reception terrible.....we waited for one hour to check in in the Golden club....this is the treatment for best customers. We payed full price. If you pay 50$ per night as many Canadians did then you do not have the right to complain...

Will never come back....it is a pity because the beach is one of the best in Dominican republic. I recommend to stay in any other hotel in Las Terrenas and enjoy the beach

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Grand Bahia Principe El Portillo

Address: Carretera las Terrenas, El Limon Km. 4, Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic (Formerly El Portillo Beach Resort)
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > Samana Province > Las Terrenas
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Top resorts Hotel in Las Terrenas
#2 Family Hotel in Las Terrenas
#3 Spa Hotel in Las Terrenas
#6 Romantic Hotel in Las Terrenas
#6 On the Beach Hotel in Las Terrenas
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Grand Bahia Principe El Portillo 3.5*
Number of rooms: 582
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 4 a la carte restaurants 4 Bars Snack-bar Pueblo Principe: local craft stores, live music, shows, bars and disco. Rooms 582 rooms including 4 types: Standard, Club Golden Junior Suite, Junior Suite and Family 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

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