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Luxury Bahia Principe Esmeralda
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Reviewed August 21, 2012

We chose this resort for our annual family vacation to the Domican Republic based on the high ratings it received. We are a family of 10, with age ranging from 6-90yrs old and stayed on the property for 7 days. I think the concept of this resort is good in theory but in actuality it fails on many levels.

1) Overall - the Esmeralda is a small resort in a huge complex. This is great because you are close to the Esmeralda pool, easy access to the beach, and the Esmeralda buffet. The negatives are that you are really far from the nightly entertainment (on the main resort) which is always crowded, the Pueblo Principe (with stores and more entertainment), and all but one a la carte restaurant. I think that because the Esmeralda is so small the service staff is limited - or catering to the Privilege Club members? Honestly, not sure how that works but we were tipping constantly and always had to struggle for service (more on this later).

2) Facilities - the rooms were great. We were lucky and got building 90, closest to the beach. Rooms were very clean. However, if you do not ask for butler service it is unclear how you ask for scented pillows or other items. The standard room pillows are lumpy and smelled of mildew. We left $2 every day for the maid (luz) but we only had our minibar restocked 4 out of the 7 days. The room was very clean. My family had unfortunately locked the bathroom door by accident and the facilities folks came in 5 minutes! This was impressive. My grandmother also lost a pearl earring which the staff found and returned to her. The pool was never too crowded and I liked that even though it closed at 6pm the guards kicked people out of it around 6:30pm or so. They also did this nicely...not brusque like in some other resorts. One more thing, we got gifts in 3 out of the 4 rooms we reserved. They gave us some t-shirts and a little bottle of rum. However, one of the rooms didn't. Not sure why this was...but inconsistent! Gym in the Ambar was small and surprisingly croweded too. Signs at the resort were confusing and we got lost a lot!

3) Dining - the buffet was good. The steak excellent, but really that was it. There was very little variety in dishes and the breakfast was less than stellar. We have had much better variety of food in other resorts. I wonder if this is because the Esmeralda is so small. We went the BBQ a la carte on the last day (open air) because there were no other restaurants available. This was a buffet - not an a la carte - and the buffet items were the same as the ones in our own buffet. So I wonder if all of them were like this. For the a la carte restaurants we ate at the Bella Italia which was mediocre at best. The buffet was good, but all the entrees we got were less than stellar. Service was very slow...and we only got refills on drinks twice even though we were there for over 2 hrs. We also ate at the Maiko -where the food was the best. Unfortunately, 3 people in my party got sick from the sushi - so beware. The rest of us didn't really eat all the sushi they did so we suspect is what did it. We had reservations to return later in the week but cancelled them because of this. We also ate at the Garden Grill, which was also excellent. We wanted to return to this one but they were fully booked when we asked. Le Gourmet was average at best. The desserts were horrible! The entrees were good. The Thursday night seafood gala was the regular buffet with a couple of extra items. We were not impressed.

4) Beach - this was by far the most crowded beach we have ever been to. I know people reserve seats in advance but the people here took it to another level. We went out at 8 am and all the seats were taken, save for a few in the back of the Esmeralda section. We chose to stay in this section for the rest of the time because it was less crowded but to get to the ocean you had to navigate through LOTS of people! There were also a lot of topless bathers - more so than in other resorts. Honestly, if the beach had been better, this might have gotten 4 stars - but it was too much. It made you feel like you were part of the mega-resort and not the Esmeralda.

5) Service - We had really bad service throughout. My grandmother did have one waited who helped her during breakfast but other than that we always had a long wait for coffee, drinks etc. I didn't like that unlike other resorts, you really had to depend on the waiters for drinks. They took forever, that you were finished with your food before they came. The worst was at the buffet and at the snack bar. I was yelled at because i tried to get my own drink at the snack bar. The waited told me he would get it but then he took forever. i ignored him from then on and got my own. The wait was ridiculous. We were also confused by the waited named Jose at the snack bar, because after 4 days of going there for lunch from the beach, he told us that we could not go in with wet bathing suits. He wanted us to go to our room and change. We told him that a) we were not dripping wet and b) we had coverups on. Not only that but everyone was wet but he was targeting our group for some reason. He said he was not and that everyone else was dried. I ponted out a lady getting food in just a bathing suit (no cover up) who was obviously wet. He said she was dry - to my face - because he had told her to go change (he was obviously lying). I made him go over there to touch her. He did and told her that she couldn't be there. She looked at him incredulously - because it was obvious that everyone was wet. We complaned the next day and management told us that he had said we were there without coverups (again a lie). I talked to Jose again the next day and made him apologize to my brother-in-law with whom he had yelled at (it escalated and it really shouldn't have). He was pleasant from then on...but again...bad customer service I felt. Additionally, we had sent all of our reservations ahead of time. We were informed that all but the last two days were confirmed. I asked again for confirmation two days before we left. Nothing. We got to the resort and it wasn't until the 2nd day that I realized that they hadn't given us reservations for the last 2 days. When I went to speak to them, they said that the Don Pablo was closed (we had chosen to split our group these last 2 days so that we could try that restaurant without the 6yr old). Nothing else but the BBQ was available. Two things about this 1) no one ever told us that it was closed so that we could make alternative plans before we arrived or after - they just didn't give them to us and we had to realize it on our own and 2) since we had split our group, they didn't even give us the reservations for the Maiko and Garden Grill which were not closed.

6) Main resort - we ventured out 3 out of the 7 nights, mostly because it was raining at times and it was very far away to get back. It was a good walk back since we were closest to the beach - and with mosquitoes and heat this was not fun. The shows, shuttles, and main pool were VERY crowded. We ventured to a show in the main pool at one point and it felt like spring break. Men were showing their bare butts as they were doing a dance contest. I really did not find this age appropriate for some of the children present...really felt like a spring break crowd and the pool was at least 10x more crowded thant the Esmeralda. The last night we found Pueblo Principe...this was actually very nice. I wish we had found it sooner...but it was farthest from us. We tried to get seats in the Barcelo lobby at one point too and couldn't find a single seat available....we went back to the Esmeralda.

Overall - it was average, with good and bad. I don't think we would return. Still looking for that great resort!

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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2  Thank nath3636
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Customer Servic... B, Customer Service at Luxury Bahia Principe Esmeralda, responded to this reviewResponded August 22, 2012

Dear Guest,

Receive cordial greetings from all the team working at Gran Bahia Principe Bavaro Resort, especially from our Quality & Customer Service department.

First of all, we would like to thank you for bringing to our attention your comments about your stay in our Hotel.

Regarding your comments about the food in our resort ,we must say that the level of satisfaction obtained concerning the quality and variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner services has always been very elevated according to the opinions reflected in our quality questionnaires

We regret to hear that your perception in this matter was not positive but be assured that your comments has been already brought to the General Manager of our Resort.

We would like to state that our hotel is a safe and disease free complex; since we follow a very strict hygiene program and constant monitoring of all standards of quality in our Hotel.

We should take in consideration that certain risks are involved when traveling to the tropics; there are various factors that may contribute to illness, such as climate, temperature variation, combination of food and beverages, excessive sun exposure, personal reactions, among others.

Concerning your remarks about the service, please allow us to inform you that we constantly train our Staff members through our Human Resources Department as well as the Bahia Principe Quality Department in order to ensure that we provide our guests with the natural warm and hospitality that characterize the Dominican people.

Your point of view has quite surprised us since it is not normal that we receive those kinds of remarks from our clients, but on the contrary, we usually receive excellent feedback about their friendliness and attentiveness.

We apologize if you felt you did not receive the service you were entitled to, but be assured that your comments have been already brought to the General Manager of our Resort and we will give the matters the proper attention and the corrective measures are going to be taken in order to avoid these situations from reoccurring.
We are glad to find out that there were some aspects from our services you find worth to mention, especially the cleanliness of the rooms and the quality of the food at the Garden Grill restaurant.

We would like to have the opportunity to welcome you once again at The Gran Bahia Principe Bavaro Resort to experience the hospitality of our people, the quality of our services and facilities and change any misperception you may have about us.

María Maciá Bas
Customer Service Manager
Bahía Príncipe Bávaro Resort

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 18, 2012

Overall, we loved our stay here and it was mainly because of the excellent service provided by the staff! Hats off to our Butler, Djenny, who greeted us with a room decorated for our anniversary and gave us a wonderful bubble bath and bottle of champagne. There were so many other wonderful staff throughout the resort who made our stay pleasant and I regret that we don't remember everyone's names! Luz, our maid was fantastic, all of the wait staff in the Esmeralda's lounge, snack bar, and Jazmin buffet were also great. Staff throughout the rest of the Gran Bahia resort was wonderful as well and it was a delight to see them happy and often break out into singing and dancing. As a visitor, it was great to be a part of their joy.

The downside to this resort is that it is so huge and the beach is the most crowded beach we've ever been on. With that being said, though, we did not stay in the less crowded Esmeralda beach section as it was too far from the water. Pools were crowded as well. The plus side to this huge resort is that it offers may amenities and dining choices. We thoroughly enjoyed going to the Don Pablo and El Olivo restaurants which were adult only on the Anbar section.

Here are just a few other observations:

1. Beds- Very Firm, but do ask for the scented pillows. I particularly liked the chamomille scent.
2. Room- Large, comfortable, lots of space to relax in.
3. Beach or Pool Chairs- Go EARLY and put a towel on a chair for a waterfront beach chair under a palapa or for any chair at the pool. You will always be able to find a beach chair, but it may be far back or it may not be shaded.
4. Reservations- Make your ala carte restaurant reservations the first day you are there. You can also check later in the day for cancellations.
5. Tips- Give them out. It's nice to do that and it's appreciated. I agree with a previous review that said to bring $1 bills.
6. Food- Very good for an all-inclusive resort. We ate breakfast at Jazmin, and lunch mostly at the snack bar because we preferred the relaxed setting and food selection there. Dinner was at an ala carte restaurant. No complaints at all about the food or drink at this resort.
7. Salespeople- They are everywhere! You will be approached at least 5 times a day on the beach about an excursion, cigars, paintings, and jewelry. We booked the glass bottom boat from Scuba Aquatic and it was fun. Always negotiate for the merchandise. I got the best deal from the beach vendors. I did not get a good deal from the kiosks in the Principe shopping area at the front of the resort. I find the whole process of haggling exhausting and didn't buy as many souvenirs as I would have if I didn't have to go through all of that. I'd rather just have a reasonable good price, clearly marked, and pay that than to start at an unreasonable amount and have to work down. We were pulled over to a kiosk by a salesperson and began to negotiate a deal. Had I felt comfortable being able to shop around first, I could have gotten a better deal on the picture and sculpture that I bought over at one of the perimeter shops. Really, it's my own fault for paying too much, and I do have a soft spot for salespeople, but the bitter feeling of getting ripped off stopped me from making any more purchases. My advice is just buy from the beach vendors or the shops, not the kiosks in the center. Do not let them drag you over! :)
8. Smokers- Was very glad that restaurants are non-smoking. My only gripe is at the people who put their cigarette butts in the sand. There are plenty of pots and trash cans that are cleaned out throughout the day. It's just sad to see a cigarette butt laying around on a pretty beach. That goes for plastic cups too. People should just clean up after themselves and do their part to keep the area looking nice.

We wanted to get away and relax and we were able to do that. The beach is beautiful. The resort was gorgeous and the staff was phenomenal. We just wish that the resort overall was smaller and found ourselves missing The Bucuti resort in Aruba which is more of a boutique resort for adults only. We'd definitely come here again because of the service though!

Room Tip: We stayed in bulding 90, on the first floor. It was great to walk out our room and be on the beach or at the pool in a matter of a few steps.
  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank songstress815
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Customer Servic... B, Customer Serice Manager at Luxury Bahia Principe Esmeralda, responded to this reviewResponded August 19, 2012

Dear client,

Receive cordial greetings from all the team working at Gran Bahia Principe Bavaro Resort, especially from our Quality & Customer Service Department.

We would like to thank you for bringing to our attention the comments about your stay in our Esmeralda Hotel.

We are glad to find out that there were some aspects from our services you find worth to mention, especially the service provided by our staff.


It is a pleasure for all of us to hear that we could fulfill your expectations and be assured that it is wonderful to know that you are considering coming back to our premises.


Looking forward to seeing you soon

Regards from Bavaro!!

María Maciá Bas
Customer Service Manager
Bahía Príncipe Bávaro Resort

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 16, 2012

It was my second visit to DR - first was in Melia Caribe Tropical and i loved it! The rooms in Esmeralda are just perfect - big, clean, beautifully decorated , exactly as you see them in the web. The problem is that there are constructions going on and you can get a bad view if you are in the building that is closest to the construction side. As the staff are really very helpful I guess it will not be a problem to move - they really try their best to please the guests. The room service is free and was great. The food was ok - it was nothing really amazing, but the desserts were really impressive, chic and delicious - try them. The only thing that was not that great was the beach - too many weeds, I am not sure if they really cleaned them every day but we had to stay on the pools, which were fine. I really recommend Don Pablo restaurant - the Lobster and the duck were soooo delicious!

  • Stayed: May 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Mirrra
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Customer Servic... B, Customer Service Manager at Luxury Bahia Principe Esmeralda, responded to this reviewResponded August 19, 2012

Dear client,

Receive cordial greetings from all the team working at Gran Bahia Principe Bavaro Resort, especially from our Quality & Customer Service Department.

We would like to thank you for bringing to our attention the comments about your stay in our Esmeralda Hotel.

It is a pleasure for all of us to hear that we could fulfill your expectations during your vacations.

We regret to hear that your perception about the beach was not positive, however be assured that our staff cleans the beach every day in order to provide the best service to our clients.

We thank you for taking the time of sharing your opinion with us which we will take in the highest consideration.

Looking forward to seeing you soon

Regards from Bavaro!!

María Maciá Bas
Customer Service Manager
Bahía Príncipe Bávaro Resort

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 14, 2012

I know this hotel becomes very highly rated. Unfortunately my experience here was less than expected.
This hotel is huge beyond huge and unable to accomodate there guests. My arrival took 1 hour to be transfered to the Esmerelda due to multiple busses arriving at the same time and total confusion on the part of the bell men. I was asked to move several times to catch the Esmerelda tram and it never came . After an half hour in the rain I asked for a supervisor and no one ever appeared. I arrived at the esmerelda at 11pm(1 hour after my arrival at the resort)
Ckeck in was smooth and quick and i had the room specs i had asked for.It was now 11 pm and I called to see what was availabe for food service. I was told room service so I called imediately and placed an order that I was told would
be there in 30 min. It arrived 2 hours later at 1 aM
The rooms are great and the beaches are great with lots of open chairs and waiter service.
The a la Carte is misrepresented It is buffet app and dessert and a la carte entre. The buffet is better. If you want ice good luck go for a WALK to the bar. Please dont try to order a btl of wine to your room because I tried for 4 hours and it could not be accomplished. The service in the buffet resteraunt was great as was all the service minus the room service the guest relations and the front desk. There favorite response was NO
When I arrived I asked myself why I wasnt at the paradissus(price was the answer)
I wont make that mistake again
Dont look for the deal
There was much more that affectected thgis vacation but these arte the highlights.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
6  Thank kevinmarshall
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Customer Servic... B, Customer Service Manager at Luxury Bahia Principe Esmeralda, responded to this reviewResponded August 15, 2012

Dear client,

Receive cordial greetings from all the team working at Gran Bahia Principe Bavaro Resort, especially from our Quality & Customer Service Department.

We would like to thank you for bringing to our attention the comments about your stay in our Esmeralda Hotel.

We regret to hear that your perception about some aspects of our hotel was not positive, however be assured that your comments have been already brought to the General Manager attention.

We are glad to find out that there were some aspects from our services you find worth to mention, especially the service provided by our buffet staff.

We thank you for taking the time of sharing your opinion with us which we will take in the highest consideration.

Looking forward to seeing you soon

Regards from Bavaro!!

María Maciá Bas
Customer Service Manager
Bahía Príncipe Bávaro Resort

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 14, 2012

4th visit in 3 years.....tremendous food, rooms, beach, pool, service....The staff is what makes this resort a 5 star...Special thanks to Ramon, Nicanor, Nelson, Betsy, Luiz, Alexis, Manolo, Umberto, Andy, Carlisto, Luis....We will definitely be back!...Book without hesitation

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
4  Thank MANOTA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Customer Servic... B, Customer Service Manager at Luxury Bahia Principe Esmeralda, responded to this reviewResponded August 16, 2012

Dear client,

Receive cordial greetings from all the team working at Gran Bahia Principe Bavaro Resort, especially from our Quality & Customer Service Department.

We greatly appreciate that you have chosen once again our Esmeralda Hotel as your holiday destination. It is a real pleasure to learn that you could enjoy a nice time together during your last stay with us.

As a repeater client your opinion is very important to us. It is thanks to guests like you, that our Company has reached the success and gained prestige through the last years.

Please be assured that it is an honour and a great compliment for us to forward, such wonderful comments, to all our Esmeralda staff.

Looking forward to seeing you soon

Regards from Bavaro!!

María Maciá Bas
Customer Service Manager
Bahía Príncipe Bávaro Resort

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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