I am copying and pasting this from the review I posted for my Travel Agencies website:
Booked an extreme last minute (3 days before departure) AI deal on redtag.ca for the Catalonia Bavaro between Jan 10-17, 2013. We paid under $1000/person… thank goodness. I (29) travelled with my mom (59) who had stayed at this resort 4-5 years before. I had never been there before so I was hopeful for good things as my mom loved it last time she was there. I was, however, prepared for the worst after reading numerous reviews on tripadvisor…
We flew on a large Air Transat A330 both ways, which was amazing!! Last time I travelled to the DR was in 2006 so I guess it has become more easily affordable to every income bracket since that time – hence the giant plane full of Canadians. I had previously been to Punta Cana in 2002 and stayed in La Romana in 2006 and had a wonderful time at those resorts and no complaints about anything at either. The Catalonia Bavaro however, was just awful! I can only give it a good rating for the resorts sprawling location on Bavaro Beach, and the beach (playa) itself.
The bad: The rooms are old as sin and run down. When the A/C is not pumping 24/7 it smells musty and like the room is 100 years old. We weren't choosy and stayed in a regular Junior Suite. We toured a privileged room and it wasn't worth the extra money for an upgrade it our opinion. You did NOT get preferential treatment with the privileged section wristband so be forewarned. We sat in the privileged section of all the restaurants by choice and were not once hassled to move as we were only regular guests. Therefore, save the extra money. It is not necessary to upgrade at all for the amount of time one actually spends in the room. The shower is the size of a postage stamp so if you plan on shaving while there, make sure to use the tub for that!! There were no duvet covers, only a sheet and a light blanket (if you would even call it that) on top. The balcony was large, most had hammocks and two rocking chairs with a little table in the centre. Also, there is an umbrella in the closet of every room in case it rains which is a nice feature. Most run of the mill resorts like this don't have such "luxuries" unless it's a 5* like Sandals... but then again, once upon a time, clearly ions ago, the Catalonia Bavaro WAS a 5*... although I can't quite fathom when that was.
The food was, in one word, awful. Fresh fruit was either over or under ripe and inedible. The blenderized fruit juices were all disgusting which is a shame because that is what you are going to the Caribbean for primarily. They put out Passion fruit maybe twice in the dessert section at the dinner buffet at Gran Caribe and you had to pounce on them because they were not restocked once the trays was emptied. Service was okay at best. You had to fill your own glasses of water by the buffet next to the beach. If you didn't know that right from the start as we didn’t, you'd think the staff were purposefully ignoring you which most of the time they were but empty plates were taken away quickly which was good. Everyone understands what you are asking in English so don't believe the reviews you read where they say that you have to have a pretty good grasp of Spanish - that is not at all true. We did the Japanese a la carte and the Italian and they were both awful. The cuts of steak/beef they use at the Catalonia are the most low grade, veiny, car tire rubber kind known to man. Avoid at all costs. The chicken is also average at best and there is honestly no other meat to choose from so hopefully you like carbs, starch, and veggies because the meat selections are abominable. The burgers are not like American burgers and the hotdogs are gross. Luckily, there is a pizzeria and a creperie, so you should be able to find something. My mom and I are NOT choosy eaters and we both stayed away from their meat because it was inedible. One night at the Gran Caribe buffet they had a lady carving Prosciutto off a hock which was wonderful. There was a huge line for it of course because it was the best meat they served all week! I sustained myself on mussels and they had plenty of those so if you like mussels, you are in luck. Other than mussels, some sort of white fish, and tiny little shrimps in certain mixed buffet fare, there was no seafood so don't expect lobster unless you want to pay $20USD extra to get one...ridiculous at an AI resort IMHO. I did not experience problems with cold or luke warm food like others have mentioned on tripadvisor. I found everything to be of the appropriate temperature. Their soups have no substance to them. They are all blenderized like for a small child. Some were okay, but most were awful. The dessert bar was actually decently impressive at Gran Caribe buffet, although I mostly stuck to bowls of ice cream and the nut brownies which were delicious.
Shows were really good. Very entertaining. They start at 9 45 every night and run until about 11pm. The Mr. Catalonia and Perfect Couple shows are great. The lobby bar serves really delicious cappuccino’s so definitely try at least one. I don't even drink cappuccino’s regularly and I had at least one every night before the show started. Ruben from the animation team is just wonderful. The rest of them aren't really all that pleasant or personable, but Ruben is an absolute star!!
The beach is beautiful and it is always easy to obtain a palapa or shade and it isn't super busy. The chairs around the pool always have towels 'reserving' them early in the morning so if that is where you wish you sit, I suggest getting up at 7am to reserve your spots. People would be absent all day from their towels which is very rude but that is a guest problem, not a resort problem. The pool was freezing, but I only swam their once so it wasn't a big deal. I was there for the salt water of the ocean not a chlorine pool which I can get back at home in Canada!
Booze: Average at best. There is no top shelf stuff as you can imagine and if you like strawberry daiquiris or any type of margarita like my mom and I do, the frozen mix they use is generally about 30% frozen at best, at all times. The daiquiris are okay but I was actually pretty disappointed with the booze and I am not a big drinker, so that should tell you a lot about the quality of stuff they put out.
Front desk: People are slow and the most miserable bunch of workers in the entire resort. Make sure that you get a lock for your safe because we were without one for the first two days and had to carry all our valuables with us to the beach and everywhere which is not cool. They only have a certain number of safe locks so be sure you ask for one immediately upon check-in or you'll be visiting them numerous times thereafter as check-out isn't until 12 noon each day. Also, make sure to book a hospitality suite if you are departing late at least the day before you leave. We were not told that you had to "book a time slot" to use this option and got the very last time slot for the hospitality suite at 5:35pm on the day that we were leaving. Lucky for us, our bus didn't leave to the airport until 8pm. The front desk provides you with one clean blue beach towel to towel yourself down with after your shower. There were two clean facecloths in our hospitality room as well.
Guests: Very few Canadians or Americans or people who spoke english! Mostly Russians, Germans, some Mexicans, and Argentinians during our week there.
Overall, this resort, which is still touted as a 5* in the DR, is an American/Canadian 3* at best. It's only saving grace is its location on Bavaro beach and it's curb appeal when you are pulling up. Otherwise, be warned: You totally get what you pay for. I will not be going back nor will I be recommending the Catalonia Bavaro to anyone I know. Stay at the new Hard Rock Resort or Majestic Colonial right next door if you are choosy about your food and are willing to spend a little bit of extra money!!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A magnificent hotel resort with exclusive, white sandy beaches, crystalline Caribbean waters, palm trees lining the coast and abundant vegetation throughout the complex. Coral reefs along the beach allow guests to enjoy the rich marine life of the Caribbean Sea. It is located in Playa Cabeza de Toro (Punta Cana), one of the best beach areas in the Dominican Republic. The complex is situated 20 km from the International Airport of Punta Cana and 47 km from Higuey. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with BookIt.com, Booking.com, Expedia, HotelPower, Hotels.com, Travelocity, Hotwire, TripOnline SA and getaroom.com so you can book your Catalonia Bavaro Beach, Casino & Golf Resort reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Catalonia Bavaro Beach Hotel
- Catalonia Punta Cana
- Catalonia Bavaro Beach Golf & Casino Resort
- Catalonia Bavaro Punta Cana
- Punta Cana Catalonia Bavaro
- Catalonia Bavaro Beach Resort
- Catalonia Bavaro Resort Punta Cana
- Catalonia Hotel Punta Cana
- Catalonia Resort Punta Cana
- Catalonia Bavaro Hotel