My husband and I traveled to Punta Cana in late October 2011. This was our 5th trip to Punta Cana and once again we enjoyed our visit. This time we stayed at the Grand Bahia Principe Esmeralda. This was our first time to a Bahia resort. We have previously stayed at Riu Palace (located right next door), Melia, and Dreams in Punta Cana. There were not a lot of guests from the U.S. at this resort compared with Dreams or Riu but we had a great time meeting people from all over. We were the only ones from our plane to come to this resort but 3 other couples were staying at the GBP Ambar. We met up with them a few times at the nightly shows and at dinner.
The GBP Esmeralda is a small colonial style resort within a bigger (and very large) complex. It is located approximately 30 minutes from the airport on the newly completed main road. This hotel grounds are lovely and it is built on a very wide stretch of fine white sand beach.
Our airport transfer brought us to the main lobby of the Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana. As soon as we told the lobby attendants which resort we were staying at, we were directed to a golf cart and whisked off to the private lobby of the Grand Bahia Principe Esmeralda for an easy check in. The lobby of the GBP Punta Cana is very far from the beach. The lobby of the GBP Esmeralda is right up front by the beach.
The entire GBP Esmeralda resort consists of 5 three-story buildings of accommodations, a main pool, an adult’s only jacuzzi pool with cabanas, and a lobby with a lobby bar. It’s a beautiful intimate resort.
Attached to the lobby you will find the Jazmin buffet restaurant, the outdoor buffet and Bella Italia one of the a la carte dinner venues. Staying at the GBP Esmeralda, you also have access to the facilities and dining a la carte restaurants within the Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana resort and the Grand Bahia Principe Bavaro resort. This offers you at least 8 other optional dining venues. Additionally, you can reserve dinner at the Don Pablo gourmet restaurant located at the Gran Bahia Principe Ambar “Adults Only” resort. This is one of the nicest looking restaurants within the complex and it offers gourmet entrees. It is reserved exclusively for “adults only” who are staying at either the GBP Esmeralda or the GBP Ambar. Although this was our least favorite of the a la carte restaurants, others we spoke with seemed to enjoy it. We may have hit an off night because service was extremely slow, and the food was not, in our opinion, very good. We really liked the Bella Italia restaurant at the GBP Esmeralda. That was our favorite and we also enjoyed the Garden Grill steakhouse which was located within the GBP Punta Cana. One other restaurant that was nice was the Mikado Japanese restaurant that has the hibachi show cooking. We had a really fun table that night.
A great “plus” for the GBP Esmeralda resort is that you are able to pre-reserve dining in advance of your arrival via email. We sent our email about a week before our arrival and our reservation slips were handed to us in an envelope when we checked in. We were also told we could make any changes if we needed to.
The lobby at the GBP Esmeralda is open air and beautifully decorated including small tables and chairs for relaxing anytime during the day or night. At the back of a lobby is a large formal bar which hosts relaxing live music in the evenings. The lobby is also the place to go for complimentary internet. You can use your own device or use the hotel computers in the internet room just downstairs from the entrance in a relaxing library style room.
The GBP Esmeralda is not an adult only resort but when we were there, there were very few kids and the ones that were there were very young. This may be because the time of year we vacationed most older kids are in school. Our room was located in building 90. We had a great view of both the pool and the beach. Almost any building seemed like it would be a great location because this resort is so small and intimate. The room furnishings were very nice. The furniture was white, and the rooms were very bright and light. The jacuzzi tub was great. We had a nice sitting area too since all rooms are junior suites.
During the day, we spend most of our time lounging on the white sand beach complete with a reserved section of palapas just for guests of the GBP Esmeralda. There are a variety of watersports to take part in on the beach if you like that. You just walk over to the onsite dive shop located on the beach adjacent to the beach bar. If you prefer more action, right next door to the GBP Esmeralda pool area, is the main pool of the GBP Punta Cana where pool games take place most of the day. This is a great place for kids. You have full access to this pool area too. We checked it out, but it seemed a little too crowded for our liking. We really liked the more quiet GBP Esmeralda areas.
Our favorite place before heading back to our rooms after a day on the beach was the adult’s only jacuzzi area. Each late afternoon, we headed over to enjoy a relaxing dip in the jacuzzi and for some quite time under our cabana. On some days, all the cabanas were taken, but other days we didn’t have any trouble.
After dinner, in the evenings, the main show lounge which is located between the lobbies of the GPB Punta Cana and the GPB Bavaro, put on a variety of evening entertainment shows. Some of the highlighted shows include the 80’s show and the Michael Jackson show. We have seen a lot of Michael Jackson shows in Punta Cana and in Mexico at the various all-inclusive resorts. This was one of the best.
A few of our evenings we ventured out even a little later. We took a ride on the open-air shuttle to the Pueblo Principe area at the front of the Bahia complex. It’s about a 5-8 minute shuttle ride from the farthest beach area, to the Pueblo Principe. This area of the complex has a a lot of small stores selling souvenirs and local crafts. It also has a small casino, a sports bar (yes the Chicago Bears were on screen the night we were there) and a late night show area for more entertainment, music and dancing under the stars. We never made it to the late show but the sports bar was nice.
One item, just an FYI so you know, is that the GBP Esmeralda (and the GBP Ambar for that matter) include upgraded liquor options to choose from that are included in the all-inclusive package. Even though you have access to many of the complex restaurants, lobbies and bars, you are not allowed to order the better liquors if you are anywhere outside of the GBP Esmeralda. The other resorts (except Esmeralda and Ambar) charge their guests for upgraded liquor. For example, if you are watching the evening show, which is upfront in the complex between the GBP Punta Cana and the GBP Bavaro, even though you have an Esmeralda bracelet, they cannot serve you "Jim Beam" without charging you for it. It was just awkward and a little inconvenient. Maybe it won't matter to you, but it is something that did stick out in our minds. It certainly isn't a deal breaker and didn't ruin anything but I felt it was worth making a note of.
In general, if you choose this resort, you will have a very nice time. The grounds are beautiful, the beach is lovely, and it is a little gem within a big complex that offers quiet spots and lots of activities too.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Facilities and services 2 Pools Sun terrace 4 Jacuzzis Sun umbrellas and loungers Beach and pool towel service BAHIA SPA (additional charge) Sports facilities: gym, 3 tennis courts, 1 padel tennis court (additional charge), multi-sports court Water activity centre Motorised water sports (additional charge) WiFi access in the lobby (free) and in rooms (free of charge) Entertainment amphitheatre 2 buffet restaurants 3 speciality restaurants 3 Bars 1 Snack- bar Wedding gazebo 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, 570 Deluxe Junior Suite Room facilities: King size bed or two full size beds Air conditioning Ceiling fan Sitting area with sofa Terrace Fully-equipped bathroom with hydromassage bath tub and separate shower, hair dryer and magnifying mirror Bathrobe and slippers VIP amenities Radio-alarm clock Flat screen satellite TV Coffee-making facilities Ironing set Pillow menu Umbrella 24 hour room service Minibar WiFi (free of charge) 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 Esmeralda Hotel Punta Cana