Trip Date: June 2003
Location: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Beach Junkies Rating: (based on 5 stars)
Beach: 5 / Food: 4 / Rooms: 4 / Pools: 3 / Snorkeling: n/a
We went to Bavaro Princess Suites from June 9-16th, 2003. We went to Cancun Mexico in 2000 with 15 other friends, so this was our first trip with just the two of us. We booked a week before we left with Bel Air Travel and got a great deal through Sunquest. We were offered the VIP package for $100 more but opted not to take it. In the end, we weren’t sorry that we didn’t take it because we didn’t care for the massage, the robes, the dinner at Licey or the aerial view souvenir picture that comes with the package.
TORONTO AIRPORT and FLIGHT
Our flight was at 4 pm so we got to Pearson 3 hours beforehand to pick up our tickets and check in. It’s a good idea to go early so that you can request the seats on the plane that would make your ride more comfortable. The roomier seats the first row and the seats by the emergency exits. We flew with SkyService and just to forewarn you, as your in flight meal consists of a small sandwich, salad, a trail mix and a cookie, so I suggest you eat before or bring small snacks on the flight.
ARRIVING AT PUNTA CANA AIRPORT
Going through Customs/Immigration was a breeze. We got our luggage and boarded the bus within minutes of our arrival. We meet a couple (Pat & Danny) that was close to our age and they were also from Toronto while putting our luggage on the bus. The bus ride to the resort is a very bumpy ride and since we arrived at 8 pm, the roads were dark. It’s true what others have said…it is an experience.
We arrived at the hotel and there is a guy at the lobby who watches your luggage while you go and check in. While waiting in line, they bring you a cold glass of fruit punch. The guy at check in offered us to check in after and go and eat at the buffet since it was closing in 10 mins. We weren’t that hungry so we got our hotel room. I had requested a suite close to the beach, with a balcony and a king size bed. I also remembered to ask for the remote and lock for the safety deposit box, but he said to come back in the morning because they were out. After we went back to the guy watching our luggage and they brought our luggage to our room within the hour.
We noticed that our room was a bit of a walk from the lobby, so we took the tram to Building #10. And to my surprise, our request was fulfilled, we were 4 building away from the beach and pool and we also got the suite with a balcony (Suite #103). And coincidentally, the couple that we met on the bus was in the suite below us. The one thing that upset me was that we had to twin beds in our suite. Not a big deal, we just pushed them together, but for next time, I will stress more on the king size bed. The room was spacious and well kept. All the other reviews described the rooms so there is no need for me to. One thing that somewhat bothered me was the smell on the sheets, almost a musty smell. For some reason, I brought Bounce fabric softener and rubbed them all over the sheets. We got our room cleaned every other day, and left a $2 tip along with little packages that I created before I left on vacation. We went to the Dollar store and bought nail polishes, lipsticks, candles and soaps and arranged them in cute little boxes for the maids. Even if we didn’t request for our room to be cleaned, the maid (Carmen) left fresh towels and toilet paper for us. The idea of leaving one of your room cards in the slot that turns everything on (A/C and lights) is a smart idea when you go out during the day, because it is nice to come back to a cold room. I really liked the suites because they is a lot of room with the little dinette and living room area, and also their bathroom is clean and roomy. There are also shelves and a big closet to put all your stuff.
We were too lazy to walk to the lobby each morning to make reservations for dinner, so we ate at Hispaniola every night with the other couple expect for our last night because the couple we met were on their honeymoon and had a gala dinner to attend so we joined them. The main buffet has a wide selection of food, and it changed nightly. I have a sensitive stomach so I mostly ate buns (which tastes so good, they are addicting) and potatoes. My boyfriend and the other couple ate everything and anything. Some nights we got an upset stomach but that is because of stomach are not use to their style of cooking. I hear many good things the a la carte dinners so, I highly suggest that you make the reservations in the morning for them. At lunch, all the restaurants by the beach/pool serve great food, and they is something different on the buffet, you can even pile up your plate and eat it by the pool. One tip, find the Chopin restaurant, it’s in the middle of the resort and it’s hidden, it serves breakfast too and is not as busy as the main buffet. At night, the water and the tropical forest surrounding it is all lit up and there is a boat with a guy playing the piano that goes around the whole restaurant. It’s beautiful!
I didn’t drink that much because the first day we were by the beach, one bartender asked if we wanted rum in our strawberry daiquiris and we said “sure” because we thought that we were getting alcohol in it all the time. Well, the ones that we got with alcohol were so strong that we fell asleep by the pool. The service is fast, and it’s always good to leave a small tip.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
There were 2 excursions that my boyfriend and I went on. We booked with the couple that we met through Sunquest. On Thursday, we went on Bavaro Trackers. The tour guide met us at the lobby at 8:05 am and we rode in an open truck, and once again, the ride was an experience. After half an hour, we got to the destination and began to get instructions on how to operate the ATV; everyone drove in pairs, one driving, the other one riding on the back. This was the most fun that I had on my trip to Punta Cana. The guide takes you along the beach (the water is so clear, you can see the rocks), and then you go horseback riding, stop by for a dip in the water and have lunch. I won’t go into details about the whole scenic route; you have to see for yourself. One word of advice, make sure you bring sunscreen, sunglasses (there is lots of dust/dirty), baby wipes (I got horse turd all over me and the other riders got it too), a towel and your bathing suit. And make sure that you were grubby clothes because you do get all dirty.
The other excursion that we went on was to Santo Domingo, please be aware that the city is 3 hours away from Punta Cana and is a very bumpy ride (take gravol with you). We met the tour guide in the lobby at 6:30 am. It was a long day and we didn’t get back until 8 pm. If you want to learn about the culture and history of the Dominican Republic, this excursion is for you. You get to go to the underground water caves, the light house, the house wear Christopher Columbus’ son’s house, an authentic lunch, some churches and then some shopping. I wouldn’t suggest this unless you don’t mind being on a bus for 6 hours, when you could be on the beach, lying in the sun.
The day that we were suppose to leave; we checked out at 11 am, and there was no problem at all. Since the couple that we met were staying for another week, we left our luggage in their room and stay on the beach all day. We got ready in their room, and called an hour before we were suppose to meet the tour operator to go to the airport. We waited and waited, and ended up bringing our luggage ourselves to the lobby. We got to the airport and there was no problems at customs, just remember to have your $10 US. Our flight actually arrived at Pearson 25 mins early.
I would definitely recommend this resort to anyone planning to go to Punta Cana. It is a 5 star hotel and I believe the resort lives up to it. The staff is well mannered and always willing to help you out, without expecting a tip and even with the language barrier. As we took the tram, I noticed that they are building more suites. So, this resort is going to be able to accommodate more visitors. If my friends decide that they want to go back to Punta Cana, I will probably go back and stay at this resort.
Still not convinced? See what others think here.