All in all an excellent vacation at a great resort. Although the resorts on average may be a bit nicer at Punta Cana than Playa Dorado at Puerto Plata, we had a great week-long stay at Bluebay and would give it 5 stars for the Puerto Plata / Playa Dorado area for a great price. The resort itself was pretty much as described on their website and in the reviews we read. The food was quite good (but not excellent) and plentiful. The bars in the hotel were quite good, with nice, responsive staff who definitely took care of you with a few dollars tipping each day. The alcohol was not “top shelf”, but was nonetheless quite good. The mojitos in particular were great (unless they ran out of mint by the end of the shift!).
Bluebay has the best beach and beach location on Playa Dorada. It is on the very eastern end and the beach turns kind of south-facing there. The sand is nice and the beach broad, with good swimming out front and a good supply of comfortable beach lounges. The snorkelling right at the hotel is not very good, as the water is cloudy from the wave action. However, a 20-minute walk along the beach to the east had nice live coral and fish with less cloudy water within an easy snorkel from the beach.
There were quite a few activities going on at the pool area, but we did not take part in many of them, but those who did seemed to enjoy them quite a bit. The Anamacion team were fun, personable and kept things going. Although a few reviews mentioned some “adult activity” going on around the pool after hours, we saw none of that. The clientele seemed to be about 50% European, 25% Canadian and 25% American, which was a fun mix. They have daily Spanish lessons, bike tours, games, pool Olympics, etc.
We did not take any of the hotel-sponsored tours. The people who did do them said they were good, but they are very expensive for what you get and like all tours of that sort you are trapped into a half day or full day of doing only what is on their agenda. You can nearly always find a much better price for doing the same kind of thing on your own. For instance, a taxi from the hotel to Sosua is $60 for the day (but the taxi driver is yours for the day), but a bus from the highway (a 10 min walk away) into Sosua or Puerto Plata is about $1, and the exact same tour groups can be negotiated in town for a lot less (friends paid $30 each for the “waterfall tour” in town rather than the $60 at the hotel). But booking things at the hotel is easy, so that might be preferred. I did my open water scuba certification through the group with a booth at the hotel and it was great. The instructor was fabulous and it is a real SSI or PADI certification (you can choose which you want to do; they are equivalent in the end) that includes 4 30-min dives on the reef at Sosua, plus transport and pool lessons.
One fun afternoon excursion from the hotel is to walk 20 minutes east on the beach to the point. There is good snorkelling there and the beaches are gorgeous. There are also two small restaurants/beach bars there not affiliated with any hotels. We had some beers at the Elvis Restaurant run by Mama Rosa. We didn’t have enough cash on us otherwise we would have had some fresh fish or octopus caught on the reef that morning. One word of warning: we had no troubles going or coming back, but we were warned by several people (locals and tourists) that there can be “mafia” on the beach who will try to steal your bag or money, so I’d recommend going in a group and not taking anything more than you need for lunch and beers. Another good excursion is a 20 minute walk west on the beach to the Orange Market, as small collection of stalls selling tourist souvenirs. Be sure to have your bartering hat on!
The rooms were Spartan but clean, with just one piece of furniture and a bed and closet. That is just fine for us, but some people found it a bit barebones. But all our time was spent out of the room except to sleep, so it didn’t matter. The main pool can be a bit noisy at night (they put on shows with music and a microphone until 11 PM), so if you want to get to bed early make sure your room is at the back away from the main pool, or else is down near the spa and spa pool. One other negative we heard was someone in a main floor room having bugs (centipedes) in their room. We were on the second floor. Be sure to ask for a balcony, as not all rooms have them.
All in all an excellent vacation. If we go back to Puerto Plata we’d definitely stay at the Bluebay again. It’s a bit more expensive than Cuba, but the food is far better. And it’s a bit less expensive than Punta Cana, and a lot less expensive than the Mayan Riviera, but the level of luxury is a equivalently lower (which was fine with us). We got good value for our money – everything we were wanting in a resort and nothing extra that we weren’t wanting to pay for. So we give it 5 stars of 5 for what it is. If you want serious luxury, it might not be 5 stars for you.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- BlueBay Villas Doradas is an Adults Only 24 hour All Inclusive resort in Puerto Plata, was completely refurbished in 2006 providing facilities and rooms of the highest quality. This hotel in Puerto Plata, which is only for the over 18s, is an ideal place for couples to relax or enjoy their honeymoon or wedding. Its location - literally next to the 18-hole Playa Dorada golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones – makes it a favourite among golfers.The hotel’s rooms and suites are equipped to the highest standard, in keeping with the quality of the resort and its recent refurbishment – all include cable TV, mini bars and ironing facilities. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Bluebay Villas Doradas Hotel Puerto Plata
- Bluebay Hotel Puerto Plata
- Bluebay Hotel Doradas
- Blue Bay Getaway Villas Doradas
- Blue Bay Getaway Dominican Republic