Our family of 4 (two teenage daughters) stayed at the Bahia Principe Esmeralda from August 25th to September 1st. We booked with Orbitz flying on Wesjet out of Toronto. We were a bit apprehensive as this was the first time booking through Orbitz. Other than an initial issue during the online booking process, Orbitz was relatively easy and uneventful.
We booked VIP travel to take us from the Punta Cana airport to the Bahia Principe and back. We were transported from the airport to the resort in a mini bus with approximately 16 people. The bus seating was somewhat tight but bearable. The bus would be stopping at a number of resorts to drop off guests along the way. Luckily we were the first stop. The return trip to the airport was significantly nicer as we were picked up by a relatively modern minivan that was dedicated entirely for our family, which was a pleasant surprise.
We arrived at the Bahia Principe main lobby and were immediately taken to the Bahia Principe Esmeralda Lobby. Once there we were efficiently checked in and directed to our rooms. Prior to arriving at the resort we requested adjoining or connecting rooms in section 90 or 91, one with a king bed and one with double beds. However, once there we were told that although we did request adjoining or connecting rooms they did not have any record of the location we requested. The staff did immediately move us to another room which was still not as requested. However the front desk staff worked hard towards getting us a room to our satisfaction, and on the 2nd complete day we were moved to a very nice room that met all our requirements.
We were provided a little welcome gift in our room upon arrival that included a small bottle of rum. The rooms were kept neat and the mini bar was kept stocked. The rooms were cleaned daily and the towels changed at that time. To our surprise the cleaning staff returned in the evening to provided a 2nd set of clean towels and to provide a “turn down” service, which was a nice touch. On occasion they also left towel art or something decorative such as a rose petal design.
We have been to different resorts in the Dominican on four occasions, but on this particular trip it seemed like the power went out in our room almost every night. We had never had that happen on our other trips in the past.
We had breakfast daily at the Jazmin Restaurant. The Geranios was closed due to the fact it was off season. The restaurant had a wide variety food on a daily basis that always seemed fresh.
The Jazim was also the buffet restaurant for both lunch and dinner. The assortment of food for lunch and dinner was very good. The beef was very good and in fact our daughters were more than content to eat at the buffet on a daily basis as opposed to the theme restaurants.
The staff at the Jazmin was exceptional on a daily basis. They always greeted us with a big smile (especially Celeste) and made sure we were welcomed and always taken care of…… and our glasses were always kept topped up. Danyl, Celeste, Luis, Jose, Agelis, Braudy, Jorge, and Rafael (of course), provided exceptional service and always made us feel very welcome.
We also ate at the Bella Italia, Don Pablo Gourmet (filet Mignon was amazing), Garden Grill and Portofino Italian (very good) theme restaurants. The staff was exceptional at all the restaurants, although we were not very thrilled with the service at the Garden Grill. Knowing that many of these resort restaurants provide small portions, we asked the waiter at the Garden Grill the size of the steak they serve. After being advised of the size of the steak, we asked the waiter if I could have a double portion of steak. I was told that I would have to eat the first piece first and then I could request a 2nd piece if I wished. We thought this was totally illogical as everyone would have finished their dinner while I was still eating mine. Ultimately we simply ate what we were given and left. As a side note, I requested a double serving at the Don Pablo Gourmet and was provided it without hesitation ….. exceptional service, not to mention it was an exceptional steak.
Ultimately, we found the food at the Bahia Principe very good overall.
Grounds and Pools:
The grounds at the resort were kept very clean and there was always staff either cleaning or taking care of the grounds. The beach was also kept very clean although the area with the lounge chairs and shade huts seemed to be a bit tight for space.
There always seemed to be some chairs available around the pools although there was always a number of “typical vacationers” who put towels on chairs early in the morning but are nowhere to be found afterwards, sometimes for hours at a time.
Towels are exchanged on a daily basis at the towel hut by the pool, and there never seemed to be a shortage of towels.
The nice aspect of the Bahia Principe Esmeralda is that it is a smaller resort which made it cozy and you could also go to the main Bahia Principe if you wanted to see the nightly shows or be around more activity. There is a shuttle that goes from the Esmeralda to the main Bahia Principe and back, and it is about a 10 to 15 minute walk one way. There is also a “Pueblo Principe town” at the main resort that is like a market square that has stores, a casino and some street vendors as well.
The Esmeralda has a few nice areas around the lobby to just sit and relax and to enjoy a few drinks. The bar staff would come around to see if you needed anything and Eva took very good care of us while we relaxed, as did Nestor at the lobby bar.
We also had a butler assigned to our area that was there to make sure we were taken care of. Although we did not meet him until the 3rd day, Victor would come around from time to time to see if we needed anything. Victor also arranged for us to have special pillows from their pillow menu. You could choose from a variety ranging from lavender to green apple, which was another very nice touch. My wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary during that week and Victor arranged to decorate our room and provide us with a celebratory bottle of fine spirits!
Upon check in we were told that men required long pants and closed shoes at the theme restaurants, so I complied as requested. However I was annoyed to see that a number of male guest at each of the specialty restaurants were not dressed as required. In some cases they were poorly dressed for what was to be a somewhat upscale resort venue. The only issue I have with this is that they either stick with the policy or don’t even mention it is a requirement if it is not going to be enforced.
A couple of areas of caution:
The first night at the resort my wife was bitten by something while she slept. Her eye swelled up to the point she had trouble see out of it, so we decided we should have it checked. There was a doctor and pharmacy on the property (at the Ambar) and the Esmeralda front desk staff immediately arranged for us to be taken to the Ambar. However, we were unaware that in order for the doctor to see my wife there would be a $101 US charge. The doctor seemed a bit disinterested at first, however, to his credit, he did advise us that the pharmacist would be able to recommend an over the counter product if we wished. Luckily the swelling eventually went down on its own.
The Bahia Principe Privilege Club
The Bahia Principe group has a Privilege Club which is similar to and associated with the RCI vacation group. They have representatives solicit and encourage you to sit in on a presentation that would explain how you could save money on your next trip with special privileges. We typically do not get roped into those types of presentations however on this particular occasion we were assured that their club does not involve a membership and you wouldn’t have to pay anything at the moment. However, they asked if you had a credit card because although you wouldn’t need to use it, if your last 4 number matched 4 numbers at their office, you could win a trip to one of their resorts. They also would provide you a gift just for sitting in.
You had to arrange an appointment time and then they bring you in a room with numerous tables. At each table is a representative pitching the Privilege Club membership to a guest at the resort. They ask for one hour of your time, however we were there for almost 2 hours. Bottom line: they attempt to sell you a 30 year vacation club package at a special price, BUT you can only take advantage of the price on that particular day. When you tell them you can’t afford it they start to reduce the price in conjunction with the term of the vacation plan. We went through 3 different people (up the management chain) trying to convince us to purchase a membership. Eventually we told them that unless the cost is ZERO, it is too much for us….. it was pressure selling at its finest! So beware if you do not like to be in those situations!
Check out was very smooth and efficient. We were taken to the Bahia Principe lobby and waited for the VIP driver who was on time.
Overall all we had a great vacation. The weather was great, the facilities were very clean and food was very good and plentiful. We would definitely recommend this resort if you want a nice relaxing vacation.
- 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