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Luxury Bahia Principe Esmeralda
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Reviews (7,463)
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Reviewed December 16, 2010

Let's start with the good because that won't take too long.
This was our first time to Punta Cana, we usually vacation in Mexico.

The BP Resort is well maintained, grounds are quite nice, buildings are all pretty new looking and well cleaned. The room was pretty impressive (excluding the giant cockroach that scared the heck out of my wife, it was so big she thought it was a mouse lol!)

The entertainment was pretty decent, the nightly shows were entertaining as long as you got there about 45 mins to an hour ahead of time to get a seat)

If you ordered room service it was pretty fast, but we quickly learned that the food quality was typically worse than the buffet. (Day 1 we got stale corn chips with warm runny cheese sauce... yuck!)

The Japanese a-la-carte restaurant was pretty fun. Though the Sushi wasn't very good, it didn't matter because the atmosphere was enjoyable. This restaurant provided the best service we received our entire trip!

Internet access was awful here as well. Most times my iphone lost connection before pulling in all my email. We had to get up early/stay up late to get a decent connection to get our few emails everyday.

Now the bad part...

Most employees speak very limited english, it was pretty frustrating at the best of times. Even ordering coffee was typically a challenge.

Buffet restaurant service was terrible at this resort. I don't know how anyone on this site can say that the service was good and the food was decent... it's so far from the truth. Everyone we spoke to had the same complaints! The only really decent food was the deserts, some were actually pretty tasty. In all honesty there were only one or two dishes per meal that were really edible. My wife and I started calling dinner "swill time at the trough". Breakfast was the only really ok meal of the day as we just had toast and eggs.

I'd like to make a note about the Jazmin buffet (part of the Esmeralda section). We had a special encounter there... on Tuesday evening we were asked to fill out 2 comment cards. 1 card was for the Jazmin and the 2nd was for the resort overall. My wife and I filled out the cards honestly and upon standing up to leave our table were confronted by our server who grabbed my wife's card and started to argue with her over her choices. He convinced her that she should change at least one of her answers and she agreed, but she refused to change the rest (most were marked as good, some excellent, none were marked as poor. (Way too high marks in my opinion.) Our server called his direct manager and he then argued with my wife as well and had her put in comments on each section that wasn't marked as "excellent". Once she was done he reviewed the card again and called his boss over. Again this new person argued about the answers and asked to see my card. I refused an put the cards in my pocket. 3 more employees in full suits attended our table and insisted to see my comment cards. Since this was getting out of hand and they seemed to be quite upset I decided it would be better to just give up my card. Our cards were taken and not given back, we were not permitted to put them in the comment box at the front as they explained that even one bad mention would get them all in trouble.

Most employees that we encountered seemed very unhappy. In most cases you felt like a burden to them. The odd time you might get a friendly comment or smile but it was exceptionally rare. I thought maybe I wasn't tipping enough ($1 US per drink $5 US per buffet meal ($10 for A-la-Cart) and tried upping the amount but it made no difference.)
I expected the beach to be "wow" and it really wasn't. Maybe because it was so busy, and you had to go super early to "reserve" a decent spot. Same deal around the pool's... if you wanted a good spot you had to get up before 7:30 am and go put your towel on the chairs you wanted.

We'll *never* return to this resort, and likely not the Dominican Republic either.

  • Stayed: December 2010, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank Rcarville
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 15, 2010

We were at Esmeralda Dec 5th-12th, what a great time. Check-in was a breeze as they had 5 people (including the Manager) working the front desk. After filling out the registration we were given our envelope with room cards and a-la-carte reservations, it was about 1pm, our room was ready on the 3rd floor Villa 91 overlooking the pool (as requested by e-mail). We went to our room which was gorgeous (as described by many others here on Trip Advisor) and the mini-bar was fully stocked. About 15 minutes later the bellman brought up our luggage, we changed and went for lunch at the buffet then to the beautiful pool for some late afternoon sun.
We had dinner at 3 a-la-cartes, Bella Italia, good food (my wife still raves about the salmon lasagna) great service, El Olivo at the Ambar section, good food but very slow service and the Garden Grill in the Punta Cana section where we had great rib-eye steaks again with very good service.
The buffet had a wide range of choices for all meals along with theme nights where different dishes were presented. Many reviewers have mentioned that the buffet is repetitive, this is true when it comes to the salads, the cheeses, the fruits but there is so much variety that you could try something different at every meal.
It goes without saying that the grounds are absolutely beautiful and the whole resort is spotlessly clean.
There were a few short showers here and there and other than the huge storm on Thur Dec 9th the weather was fantastic.
The staff are very friendly and always singing, dancing and smiling. We got to know several of them, treated them with respect (unlike some other guests) called them by name and we were treated like gold. Thank you Juan Carlos, Bolivar, Alexander, Maria and Medeleine (J-Lo). Our butler Ramon was always around if we needed anything extra from scented pillows to ice.
We only saw the Michael Jackson show which was very good, never made it to the casino or disco but we had great drinks after dinner from the lobby bar, there was entertainment on several nights.
The resort is huge but they give you a map and there are trams running all the time. There may have been little things that to some people disqualify Esmeralda as a 5* resort but we were on vacation and didn't let any of that bother us, we went for the sun and to relax.
We would certainly recommend this resort and would return, great value, please e-mail us if you have any questions.
Joseph

  • Stayed: December 2010, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank jmd19
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 8, 2010

On first day we were given a room on the ground floor (ground floor = first floor in Punta Cana), room was opposite garbage room, had cocroaches in washroom. Next day we complained and maintenance wanted to spray DDT. We asked for another room and were given one close to beach (90 series), room was beautiful and had attached balcony. Housekeeping was good, greeters and staff in restaurants were friendly and helpful. Manager was very helpful and understanding, gave us option for late checkout on last day. Food was good at Jasmin, cooks were very cooperative and efficient. We tipped very often. Pool was open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Food at Don Pablo was good, tappanyaki at Mikado was good experience to watch the chef cook in front of 12 seated people. Tried other 5 restaurants but food was average. Another good restaurant - Le Gourmet at Bahia Punta Cana. Trip to and fro from airport was good. Took an hour at reception till we were picked up and transferred to Esmeralada. Overall good experience, beach is beautiful and the waves are amazing. Went snorkelling, was not too happy when all three people in charge started boozing early, was hoping they would be with us in the water but remained in the motorboat. Stores along beach are amazing, remember to bargain - for goods priced at $180 US I eventually paid $30 US. Visit to Manati Park was good - bus leaves every two hours from hotel and park starting at 10 a.m. - dolphin and sea lion show was beautiful - *****must see***** - beautiful and clean park, colorful birds - we could feed some with our bare hands, be careful when the seeds are over they can peck your hand. Tribal dance at park was not bad. Park also has sea turtles, bird show, horse show. On return our hotel is 3rd halt so be prepared to stay in bus for atleast 45 minutes. Some shows at Tropicana open theatre were good. Overall - we had a good time, will surely visit again.

  • Stayed: November 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank neilbhav
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 8, 2010

My boyfriend and I stayed at the Esmeralda from Nov 27 to Dec 4/10.

The grounds are beautiful.

The rooms are amazing, spacious and immaculately clean. The service at the buffet was always good, we never sat for more than 2 minutes before being brought our drinks, I'm not sure if this was because my boyfriend speaks Spanish but I definitely know it wasn't because of tips because we very rarely tipped and only did near the end of our stay. The food was good, sometimes cold, but otherwise very good. The al la cartes were amazing as well, we enjoyed the Mediterranean and Japanese the most.

Overall this has been the best resort I have ever stayed at and the best vacation I have ever had, from day one we never ever had a problem with anything. I would recommend this hotel to anyone who's looking forward to a relaxing holiday.

  • Stayed: November 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Beaches416
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 7, 2010

We booked this resort on the recommedation of my sister as she had stayed twice at the GBP Ambar. We couldn't book there so we stayed at the Esmeralda. We have 3 children of our own but this was the first trip away and I didn't want to hear kids to remind me of mine. Even though this was a family friendly resort the time we booked there were not very many children mostly young ones with their families. If this a concern of yours, it was not a problem at all very quiet. The rooms are amazing, beautiful,clean extremely large and well kept. There is butler service that we did not use much. One night they ran a bath with bubbles and rose petals with a candle. It was waiting for us when we got back to the room. We tipped the maid on arrival, not needed, and when we left. We had excellent services but would even if we didn't. The beds were huge bigger than king because we have a king at home. Bar fridge and safe in room was included free. We stayed on the 3rd floor which had a great view of the pool area but if you wanted to see the ocean then you will have to request building 90 which is closest. The hotel was right on a beautiful beach. Our section was very quiet. Lots of chairs and shade to be found. A small bar quiet bar available.This is one of four hotels on the property, we were allowed to everywhere except Ambar section. Not all of the other hotels are allowed on our section which kept it quiet. If you want to go for a walk on the beach it is a long stretch to walk and look at other resorts along the way. There was a local tourist market on the beach where you can buy keepsakes to bring home. Cheaper than on the hotel if you are willing to bargin with locals. They start prices very high so start really low until you can agree on a price. If you want action there is a big pool at the beach that is part of the other hotels but you are welcome to use. This is a very busy area and probably harder to find a seat but if you want music, activities, and action this is the place to be. There is a volleyball net and there were plenty of people willing to play a game or too. Actually the people that we met there were quiet competitive! There are many different restaurants to choose from. Booking is done at guest services. Do a little research prior to going so you know what you want as I think that the employees sort of trying to get you to choose only certain restaurants. We went to the Don Pablo, Bella Italia, Portifino(italian), Mikado(Japanese) BBQ at the beach. The first 3 were amazing! Very gourmet, when they do something well they do it extremely well! All the restuarants were beautifully decorated, staff was friendly and helpful. Take your time and enjoy the meal and conversation because like all fine dining the aren't fast. Where are you going anyway? You're on vacation! The food at the BBQ was ok and it was just an outdoor area at the beach so it wasn't very formal. Would not recommend it. Mikado was a beautiful restaurant. We had a tepanyaki cook for us so request this seating or they will seat you at a regular table. The food was ok, a little over cooked and salty but the experience was good and desert was simple but delicious. Most of the time the restaurants were half full. I don't know if this was the time of year or if this is a regular thing. We wanted to book early 6:30pm it was always booked fast FYI, but we did show up really late one time and they seated us no problem. One night we showed up late and with 2 other people and they didn't say anything. So try it to see if it works as long as you have a reservation slip that you receive from guest services. They buffets are beautiful and there is lots of variety. The staff is friendly and helpful. Try and sit in the same sections to get the same staff and you will see even more friendliness. Tipping is not necessary but recommended. I never felt I had to tip but when you realize how much these people make and how hard they work what is a buck here and there (1 US goes a long way) Night life is at the other hotels areas. If you want a quiet night the lobby bar is open until 11:30pm. There are shows we didn't really see them. We recommend show up early to get a good seat. Just remember that the smoking bylaws that we are use to do not apply there. The disco opens at 12:00am and closes at 2:00am drinks are free. It is very lively and fun for all ages! The cappuccinos are amazing ask for hot milk on the side to add to them! There is lots of walking if you want to, about 10 min to the disco, or there are trolleys running all the time. I recommend take the map that they give you at check in and explore! They grounds are beautiful and well maintained throughout the resort. The staff is constantly working hard but will always say Hola! It is an amazing place with amazing staff who are friendly and helpful. It is such a beautiful resort and we would not hestitate to return. In fact when we left were planning when we were going to go back. Take the time to make the most of your vacation. Explore the resort, talk to everyone, staff and other guests. We met people from all over the world and also met people that we knew from home and other people that lived a few blocks away from us! It is was an amazing experience! I know this is a very long review but I wanted to cover everything!

  • Stayed: November 2010, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank sandski
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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