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“Spend a little more and stay at a better resort” 2 of 5 stars
Review of IFA Villas Bavaro Resort & Spa

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IFA Villas Bavaro Resort & Spa
3.5 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Playas de Bavaro, Bavaro, Punta Cana 51101, Dominican Republic   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #15 of 17 Hotels in Bavaro
Chateauguay, Canada
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Spend a little more and stay at a better resort”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed February 22, 2014

Hotel Lobby ambiance as a place for gathering or having a drink is non-existent as the lobby is for check in/out and guest services for booking trips. Some of the staff at the front desk speak English but other than that, the waiters, bars servers and cleaners speak Spanish only. There are 3 bars which are very quiet no music in evening- chairs are bolted to the floor so if you are a group of more then 4 it is not possible to sit together and converse. Chairs at pool or beach are reserved by 7:30 to 8:00 am . No shade - this resort does NOT have palapas or umbrellas for shade at pool or beach and the palm trees do not provide adequate shade. At the pool the chairs are bolted to the cement around the pool so you cannot move them. The Marina is to the right and left of the beach and the various day trip boats come by the resort beach at the edge of the ocean swimming area... so if you love the smell of diesel then this is the resort for you ! ! Buffet food is boring and repetitive with limited choices. The Buffet restaurant is NOT air conditioned, there are fans but the room is humid. Only 2 of the a la carte restaurants are air conditioned so if you need a reprieve from the heat only choice is to go to your room.
Premium Rooms were clean- but lighting in room is not very good- with all lights on the room is dim- in the premium rooms the toilet area is separate however if you are taller than 6 foot then the space when sitting is tight! but the shower area is a large walk in shower.
Aside from the "Disco -a closed room with no windows or air- which opens at 11:00 pm , the Theatre Show at night is the ONLY entertainment and it starts at 10:00 pm and again the chairs are bolted to the floor and grouped in 4 so if you are more than 4 then it is hard to sit together.
Many people I met were sick as was my husband- the pharmacy ran out of diarrhea type medicine- to me this speaks volumes.
I have stayed at many hotels in the Punta Cana area and this resort is at best a 3 star and I would recommend that you pay more and stay at a better hotel.

Room Tip: If you must go here- block 4600 is central and quiet
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with friends
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 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.
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (413)
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English first
Regina, Canada
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed February 21, 2014

We are reasonable small town/ Regina, Saskatchewan people who read and disregarded the bad reviews about food, major stomach illness, lack of English, cleanliness etc. HOWEVER THEY ARE MAINLY ALL TRUE! Save your valuable time and money and pick a better resort without risking a major stomach infection or virus, something seems to be floating around this resort!!

My husband and I visited ifa from feb 13 to 20. Our first couple days were great we had fun sitting on the beach and by the pool having drinks. After our stomachs adjusted to the food and drinks was when things drastically changed. My husband got it the worst! He was so sick we had to see the on-resort doctor, she was lovely and had him sent to the hospital by ambulance for extreme dehydration, as he could no longer keep food or water in his system (vomiting, diarrhea every 5-15mins). After spending an entire evening in the hospital with no real medical care we left with a prescription to control the stomach infection he had. So from practically day 4 to day 6 my husband was so bed ridden or in close proximity to the bathroom! We put it down to the food as many other Canadian/English speaking couples or groups we spoke too, had members with their group or themselves who the exact stomach problems and they all figured it's the food. We had Mexican (beef tacos) the night before he got sick as did another couple.

This sickness ruined our holiday and a majority of our trip! We are both still getting over being sick but have been lucky that we are young and don't have weak immune systems.

In regards to the resort, it's nice but not amazing. It's old and shows in the buildings, the pool, the furniture, beach chairs, etc.

Cleanliness is ok but not excellent, your definitely sharing other peoples germs. We observed them washing glasses, they just rub the glass on a bristle brush in soapy water and dunk it under water. No hot dishwasher process to kill germs. Our room was semi clean. Dust on the lights and fixtures. Tile everywhere so grout lines by the sink where water was, was gross. I cleaned the toilet area up after my husband missed the toilet. I was definitely not just cleaning his mess up. The cleaning staff doesn't get much to clean with so I honestly don't think they can do much to improve sanitization.

The staff are friendly, the bar staff are probably the best at being happy and understanding English and other languages! Alejandro, Ariel, Carlos and Maria at the mojito bar are awesome we had a fun time with them! However staff at the front desk are kinda rude and ignore you until they are done having their conversations (which definitely weren't about hotel business). The servers are good but more business as in get in get out!

You will get haggled by everyone, the spa staff want you to get massages, the photo shop want you to get pictures on the beach, the excursion companies have their staff their trying to get you to do the same excursions your travel company offers. They bring on locals to sell, who are right outside the main buffet/place to eat and will pull you to look and can get really annoying fast! We avoided them and took the cart path to our room.

It is a biggish resort, people hog chairs who are likely on the beach or "will be there later" yes we moved towels or some non important thing if your personal belongings weren't there (we paid to enjoy ourselves not to observe your towel flap in the wind and sit on the cobble stones), it takes a couple minutes to walk from the lobby to the beach but the beach is worth it! Beautiful beautiful! But preparers to be haggled there too, there is a shopping centre close by. We turned someone down twice in a row and he was a dick about it! It was ridiculous behavior since tourist are how they make their money, they try hard to rip you off so haggle the bastards down!

Food at the pizzeria and the Caribbean/international al e carte were the best! Italian al acarte could be compared to having a microwave dinner or can of ravioli! Mexican was good for me but I didn't eat much as I was feeling to good. We didn't get a chance to try the oriental one. The buffet is ok but some really weird stuff, we found it hit or miss. Lunch is probably my favorite for selection. I also found it weird that they served hot chocolate for breakfast lol.

People at the resort varied, there were Germans, Russians, Americans, Canadians, French Canadians, and other people who spoke fluent Spanish (lucky people). Tons of people smoke, it's like living in an ash tray, people's moral standards seem to drop because they didn't have to abide by the laws of their own country. There isn't a way to avoid it, even in our room our neighbor leaned out his window to smoke so it drifted into our (which then I shut the window)

There is too much to comment on about negative things more than positive. I just don't recommend it unless you want to party and can live on a liquid diet which I cannot even though I'm 24!

I don't like to be a negative nancy but even friends who came after us had got sick and friends we made there got sick. So it just wasn't us who felt this way. Plus everyone we spoke to wouldn't come back and said this is rated more the a two or three star. Standards must have changed in relation to its current 4 star review!

Not a great resort if you want to relax and enjoy yourself!

Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed February 19, 2014

On the positive side, this hotel is nice, staff try their best to help and the beach is beautiful.
That said, the food and drink are not fit for human consumption. I have been to a dozen all inclusive resorts and this was the worst. Cuba can show this place how to make a decent meal. I am currently in day 5 of a 12 step program... not the usual one but simply how many steps I can be away from the bathroom and feel safe. Three of the six in our group are suffering the same affliction.
Find a few bucks and stay at another hotel, it's not a bargain if you spent most of your holiday in your room.

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with friends
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 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.
Vancouver, Canada
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed February 18, 2014

Went to this resort for my Destination Wedding & travelled with 31 people in total. We paid +$1700ea Canadian for a 7 day stay.

The Food. Ok here's the biggest problem of all, 27 out of 31 of our friends got sick! This number is alarming!!! From vommiting to diarrhea or both!! And a lot also suffered symptoms of fever & chills and stuck in bed. The more serious case was one of our friends taken by ambulance and stayed overnight in the hospital for a gastrointestinal infection! The first signs of people getting sick was Day 2!!!

The beach was beautiful with white sand & turquoise water. It was wasn't very peaceful though as non-stop party boats & ships kept buzzing back and forth all day.

The resort grounds & appearance was clean and well maintained.

Our room upon check-in was clearly a quick "make the bed & change the towels" job when we arrived. There was a lot urine stains on the floor around the toilet on the floor! Not to upset my finance I cleaned it up myself. Gross! The toilet also had no privacy as it's behind a frosted glass shower door. I prefer a door I can close behind me for 100% privacy. Basic 3rd world average room with no frills.

Overall I will not return to the Dominican. They have a long way to go to perfect their Tourism skills & practices.

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with friends
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Quebec, Quebec, Canada
Top Contributor
82 reviews 82 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
55 helpful votes 55 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 17, 2014

I'm just back from one week in Punta Cana at the IFA Bavaro Village.

I went there to celebrate my brother's wedding. I'm a frequent traveller but this was my first time in the Caribbean and/or in an all inclusive resort. Mostly, i tend to travel to area with history or with many options of things to do as I'm not the type to stay put in a lounge chair getting tan and drink all day. I saw this as a relaxation and an introduction to all inclusive resort at the same time. with the reviews of this place, i must admit i was not really expecting much of this trips.

We were a group of 12 people plus a 1 year old baby and many of the guest where first time travellers (not just for all inclusive). So logistically, it could have been a nightmare...

The week went great! The wedding was beautiful, the resort was much better than anticipated and i would definitely recommend it.

Here are the pros and cons of this site:

Resort:

The rooms are divided in the villas section and the village which is where we stayed. The villas are really nice from the outside but need major renovations inside which will be done shortly i was told. They are however remote from the main animation: pool and theatre so it is much calmer and quieter. It is also further away from the beach... The village portions consists of several 2 or 3 stories buildings with about 20-30 rooms in each of them spread around the main pool and the theatre.

Just next to the lobby, you have the main buffet (colibri) and the internet/call center. The main pool is there as well where all the animation goes on in morning and afternoon. Pool is clean and water is warm, swim up bar is really nice especially in the early afternoon. The barman there is really friendly and quick. Animation is not my thing but there was some games, dance lessons, pool zumba or something and the people are trying to keep you entertained... The rooms building follows as well as the Pikaro pizzeria. You will find pizza, burgers, chicken nuggets, corn dogs and fries almost 24h a day. The bar is also almost 24 hours...The terries besides it serve as rally points for our groups.

Further down you will find the theatre and spa with gym. There is also a bar there which is very nice to be in the evening. Comfy chairs between the theatre and bar and there was also a big screen tv where we could see the olympics. Spa is well equip for massage and treatments. According to a few of my fellow travellers, the masseuse are incredible and the price is not expensive. Gym was good too. Plenty of weights, machine and cardio. One thing though...it could get really hot in there so go early...

Further down is the pathway to the beach. It took me about 5 minutes to walk there from my room but there are regular shuttle (golf cart) to take you there if you dont want to. Just besides the beach, there is another bar which also serve lunch buffet. It becomes the italian restaurant in the evening.

On the other side of the main desk, you will find a few shops, the medical center, the mini market and the other a la carte restaurant. You will also see Cafe dominicano a cafe/bar which is really nice and quiet, comfy chairs...My favorite spot to drink...On the other side you have the second pool which is quieter (no animation). You will find a bar as well and the kid center...Further down is the pathway to the villas section.

Rooms:

My room (3505) was just next to the pool on the ground floor. Good size room, plenty of space for me and quiet at night. The room was clean and shower had hot water and enough pressure. Beds are not the most confortable i ever sleep in but i didn't have any trouble sleeping. If i want to nit pick, i would say it is a bit firmer than it should be...As far as decor, it is ok..If you look close enough, you will see imperfections but who cares really...you will barely be in your room. Some of my travelling companions were next to the pizzeria/bar and complain about noises until 2-3am...

Beach:

Amazing beach! Soft white sands, several palm trees to provide shades (reserve your spot early though) and make it more beautiful, water is clear and warm. One thing is there are a lot of boats nearby for catamaran ride or parasailing which can be noisy at times. Also, if you are going to take long walks on the beach, be aware that past the complex private sectors, there are several people who will try to sell you boat rides, knockoff junk and they can be extremely annoying...

Food:

There were a lot of complaints in other review about the food. Here is what i think. I'm a very picky eater and i must say i was surprise by the diversity and quality. When you pay 1600$ for the week which include hotel, flight, all you can eat food and drinks, you don't expect michelin star quality restaurant...The Colibri buffet was always clean. The breakfast was the most redundant but there was plenty of choice to eat. I found they use a bit too much oil for the eggs, omelettes and food in general but it tasted good. Breads were amazing...Service was quick and efficient (although having a cute baby at your table is bound to get you more attention..lol) For lunch, you can either have the buffet at the beach or the colibri. Both is essentially the same. Plenty of choices, grill section, pasta bar and several dessert. Again a bit much oil on the grill but the taste was good. It varied from day to day with certain items coming back several times during the week but truth be told, i didn't really have the same thing to eat all week...Myself, i like the steak and fish at the grill, the tuna and the fishn chip were also great! Favorite dessert was a chocolate mousse cake and the pancakes (only saw them at the beach buffet). For dinner, you can have the colibri buffet (same type as the lunch menu but usually different than what was put on at lunch that day) and the a la carte restaurant. There are 4 of them and i tried 3: the mediteranneen (Caribe), the asian and mexican. Those restaurant are very small so it is hard to get reservation. Do the line at 8am if you want. Honestly, it is the downside of the food offering there. Basically same stuff we saw at the buffet but in a different atmosphere. The caribe was really nice (wedding reception). Asian was ok and i didn't like the mexican (didn't really see mexican food...no fajitas, burritos, etc...) If they would put more money in those restaurant to provide a better dining experience than the buffet, it would go a long way....

As for the Pikaro pizza bar...It's pizza, burgers and fries...Pizza had rave reviews from my companions though...

Service:

Almost all the employees i came across: bar, restaurant, cleaning personnel are hard workers, polite, nice and do the best they can. I had a pleasant experience all week. A lot of the employees spoke french, english and spanish. It was a little harder for french (my first language) and some had trouble with english as well but if was always able to make myself understood...No need to act like jackass tourists who start yelling because they can't speak in english or french...it's a spanish country!!!

All the resort is extremely clean! The floors are scrubs each morning as well as the lunge chairs...Very hard workers and polite. One thing though is they don't have the sense of urgency you usually see in customer service around the world. everything is possible...when is another story...lol

Finally (i know...it's long) a few tips i found along the way:

- The list of cocktails is ing and they all taste good (well...maybe not the bloody mary). You can also get the usual like rhum and coke, gin and tonic and such...Not all bartender are as efficient or quick and some drinks might not be available such as mojito. However, they will have an alternative...At the busy time you might have to be a bit more forceful to get your order as other waiters or customer might barge in...My favorite: the IFA Bavaro cocktail

- the shops on the resort are cash only (except the mini market) and a bit expensive for what they have. There are 2 shopping center nearby with grocery store. One if at a 15 minutes walking distance. You can find a hard rock cafe, an outback and big brands store: billabong, armani etc. More expensive than back home though...The other one as several shuttle everyday...If you want to take alcool back home,supermarket or mini market at the store is a good place. I brought back a high end bottle of rhum. It cost me 103 US$ at the mini market on site. It was 168$ at the liquor store on the market and 200$ at the airport for the same bottle...

- You will get harassed everyday by people trying to sell you dolphin excursion or boat rides...they usually leave you alone after a few days but they can be forceful...don't be afraid to politely tell them you are not interested if you want to be left alone...Twice a week (wednesday and saturday night) outside vendor are allowed on site to sell you junk...They have stands in front of the colibri buffet and can be more harassing than the other guys...I know they are trying to make a living but this is a pet peeve of mine...I f i want something, i'll go see you...dont come and harass me or chase me down when i'm going to the bathroom...

Room Tip: Roome 3505 was very quiet. don't stay in 3200 or 3400 if you are a light sleeper...just beside...
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Canada
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 16, 2014

ifa is a beautiful resort but very awkward!it took me few days to find the washroom who by the way are represent by stick men lol our room was nice because we upgrade home (thanks to travelers advice). but don't expect ocean view because they are none. we found the food really good but very limited and repetitive. the service was exceptional(good job to all the waiter and waitress) our favorite was the pizzeria. very nice place to eat and hang out. the show at night needs real improvement. they are most definitely promoting sex! there outfit is far from being appropriate for children.
the one thing that really bother us was the pressure to buy something (in the resort itself) they seem to think we are all millionaire!about we work our butt off at home and need a break lol on the beach its a night mare! my daughter would pretend to be running so they would leave her alone lol but at the end off the day,the beach in Punta Cana and weather, unbeatable...we will probably try a new place next year for many reason. but if the price is right we shall be back!

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Barrie, Canada
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed February 16, 2014

We visited this resort to celebrate a couple of special family milestones. While this was our first trip to Punta Cana, we certainly have traveled south many times. Never have we been so disappointed.

This resort seems to cater to smokers; sadly, we missed the memo. Smoking was permitted everywhere, including in restaurants :( It's very difficult to get away from cigarette smoke in this resort.

The food was extremely disappointing. Additionally, the majority of us became ill during our stay despite the fact that we didn't drink or brush our teeth with the tap water. Needless to say this is much more than a coincidence...

Customer service is poor, poor, poor! My mother became ill poolside one day and despite asking 3 different staff members for assistance no one ever came, leaving us to clean up the area.

Although the cleaning staff make a daily appearance, clean towels are not provided. There was no shampoo in the dispensers and no washcloths. Despite having 11 people in our party and 5 rooms, we were charged $40 for a cake to celebrate our parents anniversary. Even more ridiculous was the fact that when I attempted to pay for the cake the day of the anniversary, I was told that no cake had been ordered. Luckily our Sunwing rep could validate our order. There weren't enough hangers in the room and despite asking for them on 4 different occasions they never came.

The ocean was no where in sight from our ocean rooms. They were a considerable walk to the ocean. A problem for our elderly parents. Golf cars drive around the resort however were typically full making the journey to the beach was an ordeal.

So much more to share but you get the point!

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about IFA Villas Bavaro Resort & Spa

Address: Playas de Bavaro, Bavaro, Punta Cana 51101, Dominican Republic
Location: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > La Altagracia Province > Punta Cana > Bavaro
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#7 Business Hotel in Bavaro
#10 On the Beach Hotel in Bavaro
#11 Romantic Hotel in Bavaro
#11 Family Hotel in Bavaro
#12 Top resorts Hotel in Bavaro
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — IFA Villas Bavaro Resort & Spa 3.5*
Number of rooms: 262
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

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