I have written quite a long review here, but please bear with me. I want to give you a fair impression of the resort overall, and share what I liked and disliked about the resort. I am 30 years old, and was travelling with my hubby, and my sister and brother in-law from Toronto, Ontario.
Check in / out – When you exit the airport at Puerto Plata, it is a familiar scene. There are big busses with reps out front, you give your name, they tell you which bus to get on, and they hand you an envelope with your information. Inside this envelope is a map of the resort, your room number, your room key (physical metal keys btw.. not swipe cards), your wrist bands and luggage tags for the bellboys. If there is something wrong with your package (i.e. we had asked for adjoining rooms but realized we were in different buildings entirely) the people on the bus cannot help you, you must go to the front desk when you arrive. A few people had the wrong wristbands as well but ours were fine. The bus driver will tell you a few facts about the Dominican and welcome you to the Bahia. When we arrived at the resort, it was quite late at night. I very quickly realized two things: The hotel staff does NOT speak English very well, and also.. don’t expect immediate fixes to problems.
As to our room problem, we were told to come back the next day. This problem was never resolved, which really upset my travel companions as they were forced to share a king bed instead of having 2 separate beds as they had requested.
The same chaos presides upon check-out. Checkout is by noon, and then you must leave your bags at the front in a room which is locked but honestly they leave the door open half the time, so it would be a good idea to periodically check on your bags throughout the day. If you are leaving late on the last day like us, there are showers by the mini-club which you can use, and they are supposed to give you towels to dry off with upon request. This way you can enjoy your last day at the beach or pool, as you like! If you want to spend more time in your room past checkout, it costs $20 per hour.
VERY IMPORTANT – if you are diamond club / golden club, go to your club concierge desk to check out. It takes about 2 seconds, as opposed to waiting in the huge line at reception.
THE ROOMS – Ok here I am not going to sugar coat it: The beds are the hardest beds I have ever slept on in my life. Keeping this review in mind I tried to peek into different rooms, and it appears to me that every resort room (on both sides of the hotel) have the same rooms, whether you are regular level guest or upgraded. I suggest that if you cannot sleep on a hard bed, honestly, pick another resort, or bring your own mattress pad. As far as the room goes, they are basic, clean, and not very well lit. You can either think of this as romantic, or annoying. ☺ There is a large closet with shelves as well, there is a dresser, a table and chairs, a large balcony, night stands, and a mini fridge. Our mini fridge was very dirty and was never cleaned out (I think someone spilled Malibu rum in it as it smelled like coconut). I didn’t bother complaining because I don’t speak Spanish or write it, to leave a note. The mini fridge is filled once a day with 2 beer, 1 big bottle of water, 1 pepsi and 1 7-up in glass bottles. A tip will basically get you double the pop and beer.
It is very important that you rent the safe. It costs $4 a day and you can purchase it from the front desk or your concierge reception. Keep your passports, extra money, and valuables in the safe at all times.
Our Television barely worked (the cable) but really, this was not a big issue to us. Most stations are in Spanish anyways. The TVs are small – probably a 20 inch.
The bathroom is basic, clean, and looks to be the newest installation with a sort of cream tile throughout and granite countertops. The bath tub/shower has a rather useless glass half-wall as a shower curtain, but the floor is tiled so if water escapes it can be easily mopped up with a towel.
Please note: The resort does not seem to supply washcloths. They have hand towels and bigger bath towels, and a bath mat. But no washcloths. So you probably would be best to bring one, or a loofah, for showering to get the sand off!
Also, the resort supplies body wash, shampoo, soap, a comb and a shower cap. I found myself dying for some hair conditioner, so I’d recommend you bring some, ladies.
Room cleaning service is not at the same time each day. The mini-fridge guy does tend to show up early though, so be sure to put the “do not disturb” sign on the door if you plan to stay in your room past 9 AM.
To Tip your maid, I would suggest you hand it to her personally. I found when I left it in the room, the mini-fridge guy took it, as that is a separate staff person. My mini fridge was well stocked, but the room had not been cleaned yet, so that did not help the maid!
Club Diamond / Club Golden / Club Hacienda – Ok. Basically, all these are the same, except each company has a different name for the upgraded service. Club Diamond is Thomas Cook/Sunquest’s name for the upgrade; Club Golden appeared to be through Sunwing. Each has a different coloured wristband. Basically what the upgrade means is: your towels are in your room, and you can trade in the towels for new ones, no towel card needed. You have a separate concierge desk for questions. (We found this person quite helpful). You get 4 A-La-Carte reservations instead of 3, which you book at the concierge instead of waiting in the line in the lobby.
You get free 15 minutes of internet access each day in the concierge office. There is a “Club Diamond” section of the beach, however they do not enforce this AT ALL. I believe this is the only part of the beach where you can go topless (ladies) should you choose to. There is also a very small Club Diamond Pool with basketball nets to play water basketball, I guess. We ended up paying about $100 per person extra for this service.
THE GROUNDS – The grounds are beautiful. The landscaping is stunning, there are flowers and blossoms everywhere, waving palm trees, trimmed hedges, brick pathways in good repair. The one problem with the grounds is, they are dimly lit. Surprisingly dimly lit. So I would actually recommend that you bring a flashlight, maybe a small pocket one, which you could use while walking about at night and if you really needed to look at something in your room (as I said, the rooms are very dimly lit as well). On the first evening many of the lights were off on the path which made it that much more confusing, since we had just arrived and had no clue where things were. Definitely recommend a flashlight.
THE POOLS – The pools are nice. No Topless tanning allowed at the pools. The main pool is a neat shape, it has many lounge chairs, it has a pool bar, and volleyball net. There is not much shade around the main pool. However, since it is the main pool of a resort for like, 2000 guests (900 rooms x 2+ people each?)… By about the third day, it made me nauseous to think of swimming in this pool. Too many people equals a really gross, dirty pool with all kinds of things floating in it that I don’t care to mention. However, there are two other pools… one on the left side of the resort which is quieter, is also nice and big, and deeper (and it stayed a LOT cleaner). It also features a pool bar, with coffee as well. There is also the small club diamond pool I mentioned. And of course, the incredibly big, long beach.
THE BEACH – The beach was better than I expected after reading the reviews. It is SO LONG that it can definitely accommodate the amount of people this resort has to house, with so many rooms. The sand is clean, and there is not a lot of seaweed in the water, it was fine for walking in and there are not a lot of rocks or shells to hurt your feet. There are ample beach chairs, though sometimes we definitely had to hunt for free ones. It was Canadian spring break, the hotel was at capacity, it is to be expected. The beach offers ample shade from palm trees and sort of Roofed tables. (I’m not sure what you call them) I am pasty white but could always find shade. The water was very shallow, so it’s good for kids.. Not as good for actual swimming. Yes, there are wave breakers in the water, but they don’t really impact your life except to save you from giant waves, so I don’t think anyone should worry about them. It is true – there are sand fleas or mosquitoes or something, which come out to bite you at around 3-4pm, as soon as the temperature drops and the sun starts to set. I vigilantly applied OFF! Skintastic as some suggested, but this did not help me. Another hot spot for bugs is night, when you are watching the show. They are sneaky – I did not feel the mosquitoes biting me but I have 30+ bites on each leg from knee to ankle. ☹
THE WATER SPORTS – This resort does offer some other forms of entertainment included. They have 2 Catamarans, 2 paddleboats and 2 kayaks and I believe 1or 2 kite boards, all of which can be booked for use. You book it for an hour, but if you see that it is sitting on-shore, and it is say, 3:15, they will generally give it to you as the 3pm person hasn’t shown up yet. We took the catamarans out multiple times, as well as the paddleboats. There are also sea-doos (1 for 1 person and 1 for 2 people) which the resort rents at $35 for 15 minutes or $65 for 30 minutes. It does not matter if it is 1 or 2 people going – you just have to book the appropriate seadoo for the number of people. (So perhaps the wait might be longer for the 2 person, but the cost is the same). For those who like to Scuba – in front of the booth to book the water sports, there is a rep who you can speak to about Scuba excursions. There is also a rep at the main pool, right behind the palm trees and the volleyball net.
OTHER ACTIVIES – This resort also features a decent enough mini-golf course, but do not go there in the afternoon/evening or you will be eaten alive by bugs! There are also tennis courts, a decent gym (no a/c though), and a spa. All these activities are on the left side of the resort, or the golden club side. On the main road / playa principe there are shops to buy souvenirs, the snack bar, karaoke bar, a small casino (very small) and a rock bar. I did not spend time in this area so I can’t really comment except as you will see below, I really did not enjoy this snack bar.
THE FOOD – The food I thought was quite good, and varied. The buffet is very large, and they really do change it up quite a bit. They did have theme nights, but I didn’t find the themes to have a lot of impact. ☺ The A-La Carte restaurants were very good as well. I do think it is worth your time, to book the A-La-Cartes. The service was very good and it is much more of a restaurant-style atmosphere with plated service, and a beginning antipasto buffet. The waiters at the Italian restaurant were hilarious and made the most amazing Spanish Coffee I have had in my life.
Italian – The pasta and sauces are basic, but delicious. The Desserts were the nicest here too. An example of the fare would be hot and cold antipasto, followed by plated pasta carbonara, and profiteroles for dessert with Spanish coffee and a shot of mammajuana.
Mexican – Very fresh main courses, though I thought the antipasto left something to be desired. I had the burrito and it was amazing, fresh, light and tasty. I think I had ice cream for dessert.
Mediterranean – The fanciest in atmosphere. All is plated here from appetizer to dessert. I personally had chicken cannelloni for starters, followed by a steak (I’m not a big seafood eater) and a crepe suzette for dessert. My friends had the seafood and enjoyed their meals.
The Snack Bar at the beach – Good, open until 6 or 7 each night. No cocktails here, but there is pasta, fresh fruit, burgers, fries, pizza and virgin slushy drunks.
Snack bar in the Playa Principe – (the party street up the road) – Open until 2 am. This is the only place I thought was absolutely gross. Burgers, fries, beer, drunk guests, dirty tables and no napkins. Enjoy!
THE DRINKS – The drinks were really, really good. While the slushy mixes were never quite slushy due to the speed at which we guests were consuming them, they were very tasty, and the cocktail selections were varied and creative. The resort does not serve premium / name brand liquor. However, don’t let this deter you – the drinks were super tasty, and very smooth. I never got that horrible cheap-booze headache you can get from low quality brands. So whatever they are using is of quality, even if it may not be the brands you are used to. Also, the bartenders I found to be quick, cheerful and never hassled me for a tip or looked ticked off if I did not tip. (Actually I found the whole resort to be this way, which is great.) The house beer I believe is the same brand as the cans and is very smooth and light. The house wine (I don’t know the brand) was very easy to drink as well – dangerous! Make sure you try some Mammajuana once or twice too – just for the experience.
THE ANIMATION TEAM – Are all VERY enthusiastic! I am not a person who generally cares about the animation team at all, nor do I generally watch the shows or participate in resort activities. However, the staff here are very present! You will see them running events with guests all day at the main pool. There is a DJ playing great music at the beach and also at the main pool. The staff tends to put on a silly show or contests around the main pool or at the beach for prizes, and the shows are quite good. There are also aqua aerobics at the main pool, which are pretty funny.
Each night at 9:30 pm on the main stage there is a show. We watched every night. Now most of the shows are dance, with the main singers lip-synching. The funny part is, they don’t really know the words or they seem to be singing the Spanish words, but regardless they try hard and the shows are worth seeing. They also don’t take themselves TOO seriously. So when something is cheesy, it’s usually cheesy funny, not painful cheese. ☺ You will also see these staff members working as bartenders and things during the day. You can tell they are all quite hard workers and try their best.
THE TRAVEL REPS – Outside the front lobby, you will find the golden club and diamond club receptions, well as guest services, and the travel reps offices for Thomas cook/Sunquest, Sunwing, Nolitours, Solitour, etc. We travelled with Sunquest, and the rep at this resort was Carolyn. She will give you a orientation session for the resort, and then she would be the person you booked tours/excursions with. I had gone on the Bahia Principe website, and saw the ATV excursion. We really wanted to do that, but when I asked her about it, she said she had no idea what I was talking about and that excursion was not offered. She tried to talk us into doing the dune buggies, which was fine, but I really wanted to find out about these ATVs and knew there was something weird, if they were on the website but not offered? I did not see the other tours from the website, either. Well. It turns out after asking Club Diamond, who sent me to Guest Services, who (discreetly) sent me over to Nolitours, that the tours on the website are those of the Nolitours rep, and are not offered by Sunquest at all. I would of appreciated it if Carolyn would have been up-front and explained this to me right off-the hop, but I had to run around to find this out. You can definitely book tours with nolitours as well just so you know. They have the right Canadian insurance as well, it’s just your rep won’t get commission. But you know what? If Sunquest does not have a specific tour, they should be sending that client to a reputable associate such as nolitours instead of letting their guests get frustrated by the lack of information, and perhaps then that guest may go to a disreputable tour operator or random person on the beach.
Regardless, we were also misled about the city tour Sunquest offered. We ended up booking both a city tour and an ATV excursion through Nolitours, and nothing through Sunquest.
A tip on the City tour – at your request if they have time, they will bring you to a local (and very nice) grocery store, where you can pick up vanilla, and Mammajuana sticks, and liquor for much better prices than in the Sosua Flea Market. You can also grab any snacks you might want for your room, or liquor, etc. Your change will be given to you in Pesos but you can pay with American money.
TO SUM UP, the resort was nice, the staff was friendly, and for the most part it was a very relaxing, chill vacation. There are some areas that need to be attended to, most notably the horrible beds, and there REALLY needs to be a bilingual/trilingual point of contact at the front of the resort at all times. (The resort caters mostly to Canadians, so in my opinion it is not too much to ask that the head bellman and the front desk should speak at least English, but preferably English and French. I myself don’t speak French but saw enough French people that I feel this Is a necessity.) I had a good time, but would not recommend this resort for Couples looking for a romantic vacation. I would recommend this hotel for groups as it easily and swiftly accommodates large groups in all areas, and families as it has a big beach for kids to play, there is a mini club, there are lots of kid friendly foods and drinks, and the pools are for the most part, kid friendly enough with supervision. I would say that I payed too much ($1300 pp, booked about 6 months in advance), but if you could get to this resort for $1000 or less, you can’t go wrong.
TIPS TO GUESTS:
- Bring A Flashlight
- Don’t bother converting to pesos, everyone takes American (I didn’t try Canadian),
even when we went into Puerto Plata they were cool with American as it is a
- If you don’t want to do the shopping tour, realize that you can get souvenirs at the
shops on the playa principe, or you can walk to the left of the resort and there is a
flea market on the beach.
- If you are not finding the tour you want, don’t be afraid to ask the tour operators
from the other companies, but be advised that not all tours (like the guy on the
beach saying he will give you a better price) have insurance. When in doubt, ask.
- BRING BUG SPRAY
- Bring Ample Sunscreen, the sun is HOT! It feels really nice and cool, the breezes are
very nice and cool. I got sunburnt despite being very vigilant about sunscreen.
- You do not need a power converter, but you cannot plug in 3-prong plugs. Only 2-prong.
So your iPhone chargers are ok, and hair dryers. But if for some reason you have a super
powered appliance that you cannot live without and it has that third prong, you are SOL. ☺
(Also there are very few plugs – our room only had 2 in the bathroom and that was all.)
- Bring your sense of humour, and some advil, immodium and gravol in case of
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Facilities and services: 4 pools BAHIA SPA (additional charge) Sports facilities: gym, tennis court, mini golf, football pitch... Water activity centre Motorised sports (additional charge) WiFi access in the lobby (24 hour free per day/device) and in rooms (additional charge) Wedding gazebo Main restaurant and 3 specialty restaurants 6 bars Playa Grande Golf Course just 40 minutes from the hotel Convention / Meeting centre Pueblo Principe: shows, live music, bars, stores, karaoke, casino and disco Rooms 608 rooms including 2 types: Suite & Standard The Standard rooms are equipped with: King size bed or 2 full size beds Fully-equipped bathroom: Bathtub plus shower, wash basin, hair dryer and magnifying mirror Bathroom amenities Air conditioning Ceiling fan Safe (additional charge) Mini-bar (Restocked daily) Direct phone line (additional charge for external calls) Flat screen TV Coffee set WiFi (additional charge) The Suite rooms have the same equipment as the Standard rooms but also include: Ironing set Sitting area with sofa Pool towel available in room Bathrobe and slippers Evening turn-down service International newspapers Terrace or balcony Children Bahia Scouts The hotel is perfect for families, offering a range of facilities tailored especially for children, including the following: Children's pool Mini Club with daytime activities Evening Mini Disco Babysitting service for children aged up to 12 (additional charge) Other Services Medical service (additional charge) Pharmacy (additional charge) Specialised service for organising weddings, incentive trips, events and anniversaries ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- San Juan Dominican Republic
- Bahia Principe Puerto Plata
- Bahia Principe San Juan Puerto Plata
- Bahia Principe Dominican Republic
- Bahia Principe San Juan Dominican Republic
- Dominican Republic Bahia Principe
- Bahia Principe San Juan Resort
- Bahia Principe Sj
- Puerto Plata Bahia Principe
- Bahia Principe Resort San Juan