The Ambar far exceeded our expectations. It is a stunningly beautiful, extremely well maintained first class adult-only resort and we had a fabulous time there. This was my first and my wife's second time to Punta Cana, and interestingly, on her previous trip she and a girl friend stayed at the Majestic Colonial 3 years ago, which is next to the Bahia Principe Almbar,
My wife and I have relatively high stress jobs and we needed to have a resort that was relaxing and stress free. The Ambar being a extremely service oriented Adult all-inclusive was ideal for this purpose.
Our goal in planning this trip was to find the highest value, and the highest quality for the lowest price. We chose a 7 day trip at the Bahia Principe Ambar in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Talk about last minute: We booked this trip New Years eve 2013 on the Transat Website (Vancouver to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic) and arrived in Punta Cana at 6:15 January 3rd. Some last minute deals can be incredible values. This was one of them.
The Bahia Principe resort in Punta Cana is a large resort that is divided into 4 smaller resorts.
Luxury Bahia Principe Esmeralda 510 rooms
Grand Bahia Principe Bavaro 1296 rooms
Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana 780 rooms
Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar 528 rooms
The Ambar is on the beach and has it's own private pool and beach area that no one from the other 3 Bahia resorts could use. However as an Ambar guest we had access to all the other 3 Bahia resorts on the Bahia property including all their, activities, restaurants and pools. That said, there really was no reason most of the time to wander far from the Ambar because the service and quality of the Ambar resort was so outstanding.
Travel between the different Bahia resorts on the property was very easy. They had tram that would pick you up in front of your lobby and take you anywhere in the resorts.
A few details:
First a note on the Domincan people. Dominican's are by nature a beautiful, warm, friendly, hospitable people. As one Ambar manager said to me, we don't need to train our staff to be this way, Dominican people are this way by nature.
That said, the staff of the Ambar was truly exceptional. Every person involved in customer service, from the chambermaids to the restaurant staff, support services, management and even the grounds keepers we came in contact with were wonderful. The Ambar staff went over the top to make your experience amazing and they did this with a good attitude though many of them worked 12 hour shifts, 20 days straight. When I say the staff at the Ambar is exceptional, they truly are.
A few staff members who were a blessing to us in particularly remarkable ways: Francisco and Albania, in Customer Service, who turned service into friendship and took the time to teach me some essential Spanish. Altugracias and Raphella our wonderful maids who were so diligent with the details to make our rooms elegant and a new fresh experience with towel sculptures, fresh flowers and petal designs in the bathroom and on the bed every day, and spotlessly clean rooms. Bianca, the warm and tireless pool barmaid who didn't just serve, she cared. Arcadi Jucosa, the Ambar Manager who made it his personal task to give attention to the smallest details and took the time to talk to guests and get to know them. All of the dining staff were totally remarkable in every restaurant - definitely 5 star service.
One note on honesty needs to be commended. The first day on the resort I left the safe in our room wide open with hundreds of American dollars, my wallet with credit cards, our passports, camera and other valuables in it, Altugracias was our maid that day. When we arrived back in the room we found the safe open and untouched exactly as we left it. There are many hotels in may places in the world you could never do that. Bless you, Altugracias, You are an asset to your employers and a great representative for your Domincan people.
With some staff there was a bit of a language barrier, but if they didn't know what you were saying they would quickly find someone who could understand you. But the great thing is everyone tried hard to communicate, and that with warmth and genuine care.
We took down a couple hundred in American 1 dollar bills to tip. That said, you do not have to tip a single person in this resort to get excellent service. Not one person will treat you anything but excellent whether you tip or don't at the Ambar. We brought this money down to bless those who served us because we knew that they all would be working extremely hard to make out holiday an experience to remember. Plus they work long hard hours for a very small fraction of what people on minimum wage earn in Canada. We tip 15% - 20% in Canada and did the same at the Ambar, not because we had to, but because we wanted to.
We were in room (70111) a ground floor room with a balcony facing the jungle. We had called ahead and we asked for a quiet room and that is exactly what we got. The ground level entrance was very nice. We never heard any noise at night the entire time we were there. However, if you want a view, the rooms on the back side where we were had no view, but that isn't what we were looking for. The bottom line is it gets dark in the Dominican at 6 PM and there is nothing to see at night anyway. You can ask for a corner room for the same price, The corner room is a bit larger and has a bit larger balcony.
The rooms are nicely appointed with marble floors throughout. The only downside for us, which is a personal preference, is the bed was a bit hard. We are used to a softer pillow-top mattress at home and the sleep quality beds of the better 4 and 5 star Canadian and American hotel chains.
The beach was excellent - cool, light amber, power soft sand. There was a wonderful refreshing breeze coming off the ocean all week. This kept us cooler and made the beach much more enjoyable. This is not an ideal snorkeling beach. It is a bit too wavy and the reef is a fair ways out with waves breaking out there. However, you can take snorkeling excursions to swim with stingrays and nurse sharks and to just putter around on your own. There are also glass bottomed boats if you are not the snorkeling type. We walked 3 miles in each direction from our hotel. That was great. Plus you got to see some of the other resorts, including the quality or lack thereof of those resorts. Let me just say, we were glad we stayed where we did.
There are many shaded areas and grass roof umbrellas with Beach chairs across the whole width of the Ambar resort and the beach area in front of the Ambar is exclusively for Ambar guests. People get up early to save beach chairs and umbrellas, but if you can't find one ask one of the beach grounds cleaners and they with find you a spot and bring you beach chairs. We had no problems with sand flies the entire time we were there.
A note: Be prepared for the odd topless sunbather at times. I had never come across this before in my travels, and because my eyes are for my wife and my wife alone, it made for some removing of some areas from my vision. I would rather have not had to do that. But then, it was required almost continuously anyway with bikinis everywhere.
THE FOOD AND DRINK:
The food at the Ambar was absolutely stellar. They have aimed at 5 star gourmet dining quality, and in many areas they were exceptional. The main buffet at the Ambar was extravagant and elegant with such a variety of everything it was hard to decide what to eat. As with any buffet needing to be food safe, the food arrived cooked and then continued to heated while it was on the buffet. This tended to cause some things to be a bit over-cooked, but if you were discerning you could find many things that were best cooked that way. Overall everything was delicious. The deserts were amazing.
A note on Lobster here. While all the lobster tasted good it was hard to not get it overcooked because of sitting at the buffet. However, if you watch for the day when they are serving lobster seafood freshly grilled at the main buffet ask the chef at the grill to cook you some fresh lobster. He pulled some fresh lobster pieces out and cooked them right there on the spot for me. It was by far the best lobster I had at this resort.
Also, if you like made to order fresh omelets, in the morning there is an amazing "singing" omelet cook at the main buffet. I don't remember his name, but he was a joy to be served by and made delicious omelets.
We ate at 4 a la cartes, all of them were excellent gourmet restaurants.
Although this is an All-inclusive resort, which mean all-you-can-drink too, the all-you-can-drink was kind of lost on us because neither my wife or I are serious drinkers. But from what I could see the drinks used premium brand name brands and they were not skimping, The fresh fruit juices were all good and we had our fair share of non-alcoholic pina coladas.
A word of advice: bring your own large isolated drinking cups or mugs. The cup size at the beach or pool is very small and if you want to stay well hydrated and have continuous fluids at your disposal use your own drink containers.
We felt entirely safe everywhere on this resort. There are security guards posted all over the resort day and night.
I have to close with this. I have never been to a spa, My wife has been to many. My wife said that this was the best spa experience she has ever had. She got a full body massage, I just did the hand and foot reflexology. I can say it was truly amazing. They were very skilled and it was very relaxing.
I would recommend the Ambar to anyone and would come back in a heartbeat.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Facilities and services 2 pool Sun terrace with sun umbrellas and loungers Relaxation zone with Bali beds Outdoor Jacuzzi BAHIA SPA (additional charge) Sports facilities: gym, 3 tennis courts, multi-sports court Water activity centre Motorised water sports (additionalcharge) WiFi access in the lobby (free) and in rooms (free) Entertainment amphitheatre Wedding gazebo 1 buffetrestaurant 3 speciality restaurants 4 bars 1 snack- bar Gazebo de bodas Smokers' lounge with bar service (cigar menu with additional charge) Punta Blanca Golf Club: 18 hole Punta Blanca Golf Club, designed by Nick Price (additional charge) Pueblo Principe: Shopping and Leisure Mall with local craft stores, live music, shows, stores, bars, karaoke, disco and casino. Rooms 528 Deluxe Junior Suites Room facilities: King size bed or two full size beds Ceiling fan Air conditioning Sitting area with sofa Terrace Fully-equipped bathroom with hydromassage bath tub and separate shower, hair dryer Bathrobe and slippers Don Pablo Collection amenities Direct phone line (additional charge for external calls) Alarm clock with iPod docking station Flat screen TV Coffee-making machine Minibar Safe Butler service 24 hour room service Evening turndown service Pillow menu 2 disabled rooms for a maximum of 3 adults Prime location right on the sea front Exclusive lake-style pool Aroma menu WiFi (free) Other services Medical service (additional charge) Pharmacy (additional charge) Specialised service for organising weddings, incentive trips, events and anniversaries Personalised menus (for celiacs, diabetics, etc.) Available on request ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Gran Bahia Principe Ambar Hotel Punta Cana