My husband & I just got back from our honeymoon at IFA Villas Bavaro Resort & Spa from November 27-December 4, 2012. We would give this resort 3 stars. As with every resort, there are good and bad things. We got a very good deal for this resort and after reading the reviews decided to give it a try. There were a few hiccups with our visit, but overall we were impressed, however, we would not go back to this resort. I will break down everything for you:
Rooms - Don't book a standard room with this hotel. You get put in a villas which is not very nice and we had a huge problem with the shower not having warm water- just cold. Spend a little more money and get a superior room. Not only are you closer to the beach and restaurants, but the rooms are so much better. When we checked in to the resort we mentioned it was our honeymoon and provided a marriage certificate and they said we would have an upgraded room but they lied to us. After spending a couple hours in the room and attempting to have a shower only to find freezing cold water we complained to the hotel front desk staff. We have never had a problem with a room before and have stayed at many hotels in the past. One piece of advice...don't speak to the front desk staff...if you want a room change you need to speak to the person in charge of guest services. Once we mentioned our issue with the room and how it was not an upgrade like we were promised, they got a copy of our marriage certificate (again) and finally changed rooms for us. All they had available was a room with two beds, not one bed, but at that point anything was better than the room we first had. I highly recommend a room in one of the hotel-style buildings not the little villas. The beds are hard no matter what room you are in. The showers can be cold sometimes and take quite a while to heat up. There are no views of the ocean available. Make sure you ask for a safe... $20 for the week and well worth it.
Food - The buffet food is poor. For breakfast, the main buffet is open. The omelette station and croissants are the best part of it. For lunch you have your choice of the grill buffet down by the beach or the main buffet. If you want pizza go to the grill, although we found the pizza was cold most of the time. Both buffets were not that great in our opinion. For dinner you have your choice of the main buffet (best food there was the pasta station) or your choice of one of the three A La Cartes. If you want to go to the a la cartes you must make reservations in the early morning the day of. We tried all of the restaurants, which include Italian, Asian, and Mexican, and we really liked the Asian and Mexican. You are allowed to go to them as many times as you would like throughout your stay (one a day) and we enjoyed the restaurants more than the buffet so we tried them all and the Mexican twice. There is a Pizza bar there. Unfortunately they were not serving pizza the whole time we were there...not sure why? If you wanted a snack during the afternoon, evening, or night they served really good burgers and fries. The burgers are a little pink, but they are amazing and we did not get sick from them...If you go to the buffet please note that anything labelled "burger" is actually fish. There is a Creperie over by the Kid's Club and it is AMAZING! Best crepes ever! It was open occasionally while we were there around dinner time. The one thing I have to say about this resort is, although the buffet is not that great, there is always food available somewhere in the resort. You do not go hungry!
Location - This resort is situated in a really nice area and the resort itself is massive. If you are in a standard room you have a 10 minute walk minimum to the beach or you can take the IFA shuttle. The resort grounds are beautiful and there is lots of wildlife in certain parts of the resort. Lots of palm trees and gardens. It is a nice place to take a walk and it is very well maintained. On certain days of the weeks there are vendors that set up outside the lobby. We found them to be very pushy for a sale, but we found ourselves buying stuff from them several times. WARNING - The bugs were so bad! It depends on the person and how sensitive you are to bug bites, but I got attacked by mosquitoes and other small bugs so bad. By the third night I was afraid to go out and bought some bug spray (which did not work well). My legs alone are covered in at least 50 bug bites. Most people around the resort did not seem to have a problem with the bug bites. For some reason it was just certain people. The bites are insanely itchy. I really wanted to go home away from the bugs by the third night. I am sensitive to bug bites so if you are to bring bug spray and long pants. It depends what time of the year you go there to I am sure.
Weather - We arrived three days before hurricane season was over and our first day there it rained. After that we were good for the most part. It only rained during the night when we were sleeping. Our second last day there it rained all afternoon and the temperature dropped, but overall we were very impressed with the weather. We had +28 degree weather. Sunny, minimal cloud coverage. The humidity was high. It was a nice Caribbean vacation!
Staff - The staff are nice, but most do not speak much English. If you know some Spanish you will benefit. The restaurant and buffet staff are very nice, professional and quick. They cleared our plates fast, always asked what we would like to drink, and refilled our water. The maids do a great job cleaning the room and deserve a nice tip! Our maid always left us towel animals and flowers. The towel lady is really sweet and gives all the girls a flower in their hair.
Entertainment - The entertainment at the Theatre was amazing while we were there. Several nights there was professional dancers and the last few nights we were there they did comedy with the audience. The stage is massive and they have a good light show. The shows start at 10pm and are one hour. Well worth it to see! We did not participate in any of the daytime animation activities, but we saw them around the resort while we were walking around and they looked good. Always something to do! For night life they have a new Disco. We went once to it and it was busy and everybody was having a good time. Unlimited drinks and it is open until 4am located on the resort grounds. The disco is very nice inside! If you don't mind leaving the resort for a club, we were told about one of them where you pay $60.00 and get free transportation and the first night you drink free. We didn't go to it, but it looked like fun.
Beach - The beach is beautiful. White sand, blue water. There is a lot of seaweed, but the resort staff work all day to clean it up. There are a lot of beach chairs and we did not have a problem getting a chair at any point of the day. Unfortunately we were disappointed with the location of the resort...right in between two shopping centres and the vendors really push for a sale. It is okay if you are looking for purchase something, but when you want to take a walk down the beach it gets REALLY annoying. There are other resorts on the other sides of the shopping centre though and security guards so you are safe.
Pools - There are pools everywhere in the resort. There are three pools in different areas of the resort and four little hot tubs (with cold water). The main pool is the busiest and has a swim up bar which is nice. The other pool has a bar attached to it and the third pool is the quietest and has a bar located next to it in the theatre. The pools are well maintained and are nice to cool off in. Getting a chair by the main pool is sometimes difficult, but we enjoyed the quieter pool anyway.
Excursions - We did two excursions while we were there. We highly recommend the Country Adventure if you are interested in seeing the countryside and seeing how the typical Dominican family lives. You visit a Cocoa Plaintain, church, home and school. You get to go horseback riding near the mountains, have a nice home cooked Dominican lunch and visit a beautiful beach. This excursion is a full-day and well worth it. The other excursion we went on was the Canopy Adventure. This was a half-day activity and was located in the mountains about one hour from the resort. You go zip-lining through the jungle. It was so much fun and a once in a lifetime experience. Both were reasonably priced.
Drinks - The beer offered is decent. Only one choice,but that is all resorts ever offer unless you want to pay. I loved the Banana Mama drink. Make sure you go to the Cafe and order a banana mama. They blend it with real banana and it tastes so good. I couldn't get enough. The Spanish coffee is delicious- especially from the Cafe. The drinks are all inclusive so drink up! There are seven bars throughout the resort so you won't have trouble getting a drink.
Don't let the bad reviews scare you. If you read my review and are okay with everything I said, you will enjoy it there. We were pleased with the resort and it just had minimal issues that did not ruin our trip. We have been to Jamaica, Mexico and now The Dominican and prefer Mexico.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- IFA Villas Bavaro Resort & SPA is situated on the fine, white sands of Playa Bavaro. Bordered by a fabulous coral reef and surrounded by turquoise-colored waters this extraordinary vacation complex offers its guests a friendly, luxurious environment for sports & cuisine with its 6 charming restaurants and 7 spectacular bars, colorful tropical shows, a wide range of facilities and services especially designed to ensure an unforgettable stay right in heart of the Caribbean. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Ifa Hotel Punta Cana
- Ifa Hotel Bavaro
- Ifa Bavaro Villas
- Ifa Villas Bavaro Beach Resort & Spa
- Villas Bavaro
- Ifa Villas Bavaro Punta Cana