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All reviewsjunior suitelobby barfisha la carte restaurantsquiet poolprivilege clubmain buffetgourmet restaurantmain poollots of varietygrand bahiadifferent themeair transatbacardi islandcoral reefride from the airportother resorts
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Reviewed March 19, 2007

Just returned on Mar. 17th from the El Portillo. Went with two kids (8 & 11) and another couple. Fantastic resort... just the right size and immaculate both in public areas and in the rooms. I never once used one of the washrooms when there wasn't some one in there cleaning. Food was great... we tried all 3 a la cartes and only the Oriental was disappointing.... others had a wonderful meal there. Beach is clean and fabulously tropical, pool is never crowded and there is never a shortage of loungers or clean dry towels. Lots of palapas on the beach for shade, and umbrellas around the pool. A few tips:
Apparently the week before we were there, some guests were robbed on the beach on their way to Las Terrenas.(there's more info on the forum about this from someone who was there)... while we were there the resort posted large red signs at each property line warning guests that they left the property at their own risk. How unfortunate since the beach is endless and great for walking and swimming. Snorkeling off the beach is good.... the avid snorkeler may find it a little boring but my kids and I found it fascinating.
The shows are amateurish but entertaining... the animation staff works from 8 am to midnight keeping guests entertained. Lots of fun games and contests around the pool in the late afternoon if you're so inclined.
Internet is available in the lobby for $5 US for half an hour... you don't have to use it all at once... it keeps track of minutes used. I guess if you're Transat Golden Club you get free internet... they have their own computer in the Golden club house.
If you or your kids want your hair braided there's a woman on the beach just past the aquatic centre who will do it, but make sure you agree on a price before hand. She will ask for at least $40 or $50 per person for a full head... even the animation staff said that was an outrageous amount of money. Don't take more money then you want to spend, and don't be surprised if she asks you to go get her food from the resort, or tells you to go back to your room for more money... she's a little obstinate. The spa will do braiding but only the top of your head... not a full head... don't know what they charge.
We took a cab from the airport to beat the crowd at check-in... cost $50 US for five of us. Took about 45 min. We took the bus back to the airport... if you're prone to motion sickness take your Gravol... it's quite the ride and it's an hour and a half!
Room was great.... they even had separate beds for my kids without my asking... I had the king all to myself!
The couple we went with went into Las Terrenas and couldn't wait to leave.... said it was dirty and very chaotic... not a lot of deals. The hotel gift shop sells good local rum for $12 US a bottle. No sign of the shopping village on the resort being open anytime soon. If you want local art, vanilla, coffee, etc. you will have to go into town.
All in all, a great resort... I can only compare it with the Barcelo Capella in Santa Domingo and the El Portillo was far better food and much cleaner!
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it and I'd love to go back!
Email me if you have any questions!

  • Stayed: March 2007, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
12  Thank needavacati0n
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 17, 2007

My boyfriend and I stayed at Bahia Principe El Portillo from March 11 to March18. I share most of the opinions that renrenren and cervezatime have and their advice. I would like to add the following things:
*ROOMS: You really get good things when you book with the Golden Club (always try to get Villa number 1 second floor 1201 to 1209). We got what perhaps is the best room, unobstructed with a beautiful view of the beach, the jacuzzi, the bar...room 1208). You get free internet access, a bottle f room, T-shirts, 4 a la carte, room service 24 hours, lots of alcoholic beverages that you can prepare yourself in the club.
The only complain about our room is that every time we flushed the toilet there was a funny noise, like a police siren.
* RESTAURANTS We ended up canceling to a la carte reservations as the buffet was delicious. Every night there is a different theme:
Sunday: American
Monday: Italian
Tuesday: Spanish
Wednesday: Caribbean
Thursday: Mexican
Friday: Dominican
Saturday: Gala
On Tuesday and Wednesday there is lobster in the buffet (not so big but tasty).
Advice : if you go to :"El pescador" one of the a la carte restaurants (Fish) ask for the steak. It was the best!
I enjoyed the Fillet Mignon at the Gourmet. We never made it to the Oriental. The wine was really bad, especially the red one. The white one was not as bad but still. During breakfast, try the different kinds of tropical fruit yogurts. They are quite good.
*BARS: wonderful. The only one that runs 24 hours is the beach one. The other close at 11. Wonderful bar tenders, especially Ramon, Ramiro, Jerry (all of them in the lobby bar) and Jorge in the pool bar. Banana Mama was the most popular cocktail as the Pina Colada ( they can prepare them fresh and not from the machine if you ask for it).
*SERVICE: they are all learning and trying to do their best. Give everybody a chance. Friendly, smiling all the time and willing to help.
* Entertainment: I enjoyed the contests, the dance shows and the disco. You will learn how to dance. The resort has its on theme song that you will be singing for weeks....
* BEACH and WEATHER: after following the forecast for a month we thought it was going to rain non stop. We arrived and the only day that rained was on our last day. The first 5 days it was sunny and breeze. The sixth day was hot, hot, hot, with no wind at all. On that night it rained heavily.
* Service was surprisingly fast: check in, check out, room service, restaurants.
* Beach Vendors: just say " No gracias" and they will leave you alone. However, they sell good things and you can bargain. If they give you a price ask for half of it and let the bargain begin...
* Certainly Spanish can help a lot, as many of the staff do not speak English very well.
Overall, we enjoyed our experience a lot and recommend this beautiful paradise to everybody....

Stayed: March 2007
13  Thank Cocolocobananamama
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 17, 2007

just returned from this resort on march 11. The resort was very good, the staff are very friendly and are eager to help and are always looking for comments on how things are and what they can do better. The food was good,the buffet has a very good selection and you also have three ala carte resturants to book dinners in[ book as soon as you get there , as they fill up quickly], the rooms are very clean and the beach is great!! The beach snack bar is a great place to eat[ grilled chicken breast is the best ] , drink and just sit and have a great view. " Nelson" is the name of the best barman there! The lobby bar is an excellent place to go to before dinner and after, and "Santiago and Jerry " are the two barman who treat you very well and make great drinks! This resort is not to big, and therefore you are close to everything they have to offer. You will feel very comfortable at this resort. The only negative about it is that they charge $31 US DOLLARS to use the in room safe, OUCH!! Everyone has complained about this price but upper management don't seem to want to change the price, so be prepared to pay this if you want to use the in room safe. Otherwise, this is a great place to have a relaxing holiday. There are also lots a day trips for you to choose from , so contact your rep when you get there for information on them.

  • Stayed: March 2007, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
9  Thank kdugger
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 15, 2007

We stayed at the Gran Bahia El Portillo from February 25 - March 4. We had a such a relaxing vacation, we would definitely return to this hotel and recommend it to others.

Everything was very organized from the airport to the check in at the hotel. Check in was busy, but it only took about 20 minutes. We stayed in a standard room and it was great. We were in Villa 19. The view wasn't bad but not great, but we did not spend too much time in the room anyway. The maid service was excellent. We did leave a tip and small gift daily for the maid. The only complaint I would have is that you had to pay $31.00 US for the use of the safe. We did pay it but I think it is a little steep.

The Air Transat rep, Robert, was great. He was very helpful and had a great sense of humour. Any questions you had he was there to help.

The buffet restaurant was great. They had an excellent pasta bar at dinner. I had it a few nights. The omelettes were pretty good too. We went to all 3 a la carte restaurants. Service was a little slow at the gourmet, but no big deal. We were not in a hurry to get there. Our favourite restaurant was the Oriental. Great sweet and sour pork. The restaurant on the beach was awesome. They served really great chicken and fries. This restaurant/bar is open pretty late. We were there until 3 am one night. I think they are open until 6 am, and then only close for a few hours.

The beach is the best I have ever seen. Beautiful!!! You can walk quite a ways in both directions. We went snorkelling right in front of the hotel. It was great (except something bit me - not sure what, but the sting went away a day later). My boyfriend ventured out a little further than me and saw some beautiful fish.

The entertainment staff was pretty amusing. The tried really hard from morning till night and did a great job. Lots of activity at the pool. The wind got pretty strong at the beach in the afternoon, so we made our way to the pool every afternoon. The shows at night were pretty entertaining as well. They were the friendliest group of entertainment staff I have met.

We only went on one excursion and it was wonderful. We went on the trip to Los Haitise National Park and Cayo Levantado. It was amazing. We got to see some wonderful sights and learned quite a bit about the history of Samana. It was an all day trip, most of it on speed boat with a couple stops. Our guide Elvis was hilarious and very informative. I would highly recommend this excursion.

All in all it was an excellent vacation and I would not hesitate to return. Any questions just send me an email.

Stayed: February 2007
10  Thank sherriandterry
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 11, 2007

We just returned on March 11th from Samana at Bahia Principe El Portillo Hotel and must honestly give this resort an above average rating. This opinion was shared by majority of others we talked with, so do not hesitate staying here.
I endorse the review posted February 8th by "chicanite".
My wife and I spent 7 days at this perfectly sized resort. It has 330 rooms right now but will be growing significantly in very near future. They have expansion going on currently and much more lined up within next 2 years. The beach is really nice and the maintenance crew work very hard to keep it meticulously groomed. As many have stated earlier, you can walk endlessly both directions on beach. However, I must caution everyone about 3 unfortunate incidences which happened while we were there March 4-11th. Three roberies of vacationers from our resort occurred on remote areas of the beach mostly in the direction of Las Terrenas. My best advice is not to wear fancy jewelry or carry bags or cameras while on your beach walks. This attracts attention and makes you a potential target. We discussed this situation with Robert who is the Air Transat Rep. (and also a very nice man who will definitely help you out with very good info about excursions, tipping and local shopping). Robert is leaving very shortly to take a similar job with Air Transat in Greece. Don't forget to check with the Air Transat Rep. re: a free Air Transat Beach Bag for all Golden Club vacationers. We found out about this at end of our week but it is a nice bag.
The staff is very good and helpful. The best English is spoken by front desk personnel, specialty restaurant staff and activity group.
A-La-Carte Restaurants- They are nice but we've definitely seen much better. It truly is imperative you book your specialty restaurants as soon as you arrive. They only allow so many in each time slot and they fill up fast. We had all our dinners at 7:30 P.M. which worked out good since the entertainment started at 9:30 PM nightly. Golden Club vacationers were allowed 4 A-La-Carte dinners during our one week stay. We enjoyed the Seafood Restaurant the best with faster service and very good fish entrees. Lobster is available but apparently you must pre-order it a day prior to your reservation. ($15 extra per person). I asked the head waiter for some shrimp after I finished my dinner and there was no problem at all and it was very good although not on the menu. For some reason, desert was not brought to us and others we talked to and we left. Tipping in these restaurants is a must, so remember this. They do try very hard to be very professional and deserve a tip for sure.
The Gourmet Restaurant was good. Filet Mignon and Surf N Turf were the 2 things we had. Service in this restaurant was definitely the slowest and endorsed by many others on Trip Advisor and other vacationers we talked to. We cancelled our 4th A-La-Carte reservation to this restaurant because of this.
The Oriental Restaurant was just ok in our opinion. It was liked by many but I guess just nothing special to us.
Do not hesitate about the Main Buffet Restaurant as they have very nice selection including excellent grilled beef steaks, grilled lobster 2 different nights and good sized grilled and cold shrimps. Breakfast was predictable with Bacon,sausage, omlettes, cereal, lots fresh fruit and juices. Take a couple bananas from buffet and feed to fish on the beach. It is alot of fun feeding them and great variety of fish.
The pool, although not real big, is very nicely kept and quite adequate. Aerobics, water polo and scuba lessons are amongst activities done there. The pool is 4'8' deep and quite warm. A cold water jacuzzi is also closeby.
The bars are very plentiful. I believe there were 5 in total and very well located. The lobby bar made the best fancy drinks. The lobby is really beautiful with vast marble throughout. Tip the guys and gals there. They really do appreciate it. We brought quite a few gifts for maids, bartenders and servers. School supplies, pantyhose, lipstick,jewelry,toothpaste and brushes,baseball gloves, etc all very popular. Hope all this helps. Any other questions e-mail buick@quickclic.net Brian

  • Stayed: March 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
12  Thank cervezatime
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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