I have just spent 2 weeks at the Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe with my family (wife and 2 teenage daughters) and we enjoyed a fabulous, relaxing break. We were accommodated in block 5, side by side in 2 junior suites with jacuzzis on the balconies. The rooms were extremely well appointed; spacious, brilliant beds and very well furnished and we were lucky to have direct sea views. The aircon worked well and the ceiling fan wasn't too noisy either. The hotel sits on probably the best, Palm tree lined, beach we have ever been to. The sand was kept clean and tidy and there were plenty of sun beds ready every morning with only a short walk (1 min max) to the nearest hotel bar, the buffet or the main hotel concourse. The pools were really good too; big, clean and well maintained with a separate adults only pool and bar set slightly apart for those who wanted it. We took advantage of the covered '4-poster' family loungers at the adult pool on a couple of occasions but they need to be reserved with the bar staff there and that is best done the day before. They cost US$15 per day but are worth it.
The buffet food was very good. There was a wide variety to chose from every day for all meals and the opening times were plenty long-enough. If you want to eat at the restaurants in the evening you have to be organised and book well ahead or you will be disappointed. The Japanese and the Steak House are extremely good. You must try the Tepanyaki show tables, but plan well ahead or you won't get a reservation; and the steak house steaks are fab. We also ate at the Mexican, the Seafood and the Italian restaurants which were disappointing. The menus are limited and the quality of food was poor. Strikers Sports Bar, open for food and drink 24/7, is very good for any meal and it's a good alternative from the buffet at lunchtime. And we ate in the evening at the Golf Clubhouse twice; the setting is great and we had really good steaks but the other food wasn't up to much.
The Lobby Bar became a favourite for a pre-dinner cocktail (and several after dinner too); it has a great atmosphere, with a good pianist playing on several evenings, and the service is good too. And we enjoyed most of the shows at the Bavarro Theatre which started at 10pm every day and lasted for an hour. Our girls (18 and 16) met others the same age and took full advantage of the pool tables and table football in the evenings.
2 activities/trips we would recommend are the Bavarro Splash (US$99 per person) which gives you a chance to experience snorkelling, speedboat driving and Snuba Diving (a simple form of scuba diving) during a half day session. Its a fun trip. And we strongly recommend the Saona Golden trip, which is a day trip to the glorious Saona Island where you enjoy a relaxing catamaran trip there, lunch on the most glorious, palm tree lined, white sandy beach and then head home totally relaxed. Again this is US$99 per person. I would strongly recommend that you do these trips in your second week or later in your stay once you have a chance to develop some natural tan because there is limited escape from the sun.
We had a fabulous, relaxing family break at a great hotel in an amazing location. If it can improve the quality of its restaurant food a great hotel would become a brilliant one.