More about Gran Bahia Principe Ambar
Flawless? Pretty close!
Just got back from the Grand Bahia Principe Ambar and I had to come on this site and review it.
Before booking I came onto this site I read all positive reviews for this hotel and this Ambar section. Based on that, and a great price, I booked between Jan 10 08 and Jan 17 08. It's now my duty to give my review.
Lets start with a little background, the Ambar section of the Grand Bahia Principe is fairly new, from what I've read as new as November 2007, although I have not confirmed the exact date. Like the other sections of the hotel, it has its own pool, its beach, its reception area, and its a la carte restaurants. Note that being an AMBAR visitor gives you access to all pools, bars, and restaurants in the entire resort.
It's always a concern when going away but worry not if your at Ambar! Immediately upon arriving, we ordered room service, a pizza and a couple salads. It was brought to our room 30-40 minutes later, as is the norm, and we devoured it quickly. It was great. All the room service, which is 24hr by the way, is pretty good. The lineup we ate included: pizza, burgers, chicken nuggets and salads.
A la Carte dining was amazing. 5 out of the 6 nights we dined a la carte and all 5 nights we were satisfied. The steaks, the salmon, the deserts were all good. I overheard some people complaining about service, "that's the 2nd time we've ordered the same drink", that same couple actually left the restaurant before eating for some reason ... but hey, there's a language barrier, and they are incredibly polite about mistakes, so suck it up, and try to remember the compassionate human side you once had.
White sand, blue water, check. Hot sun check. Here is however a complaint against this hotel. Not enough beach chairs, not enough sun huts. If you were unfortunate enough to wake up late, and not get a hut or chair, you will be looking for one. And you may have to search for awhile. People leave towels and other personal items and "reserve" their huts for the day. So be prepared for that. Wake up early, do the same. I hate that its like that, but it seems inevitable.
Wet bar was good. Pool was fairly busy as well, with the same hut reservation issues as the beach. No deep end in in the ambar pool.
Incredible. Simply put, they are very polite, very fun, and very willing to help. The greatest feeling of this entire trip, was giving a big tip to a member of the staff, and seeing the joy that we had brought him. In fact we became addicted to tipping... and spent a lot of money on tips. Just remember this before you go, in Toronto you leave a 15$ tip on a 100$ check, and you get a little smile and a goodbye. In the Dominican, you leave a 20$ tip to someone, you've just made his/her entire week and the joy on their face will tell you just how much of an impact you've just made.
Go to Ambar. Just remember though, when you come back... you will be depressed you're not there anymore. :-(
Tanned and no longer warm,
Galeria Del Ambar. Here you...
Galeria Del Ambar. Here you can learn all abot ambar and see beautiful work of ambar, and ofcourse buy some with you. All price classes
The aircondition, just kidding. If you want to maybe learn about ambar or just buy or watch, this is the place to go!
The amber museum in Puerto Plata
In the most important city of the North Coast, Puerto Plata, you'll find a museum that will explain everything about that semi precious stone called Amber. Most of the jewellries of the country will offer you those stones extracted in a particular region in which you will see fossilize insects. There his another unique precious stone in DR which is mostly like the turquoise and is called Larimar.
The museum offers you the opportunity to see unique examples of Ambar.
Buying raw amber from miners...
Buying raw amber from miners along Carreterra Touristica between Sosua and Santiago around Las Cumbres. Just look for a sign (usually handlettered) that says 'ambar', stop and they will bring out their collection of unpolished stones (a few polished ones). A very nice experience.
Altos de Chavon, on South Coast about one hour past San Pedro de Macoris. Recreated Italian Rennaissance village built by wealthy Dominicans and latins (Including Oscar de La Renta). Excellent views of Rio Chavon valley, good pizza, nice museum and shopping.
Great is an understatement!
Just got back from the Bahia Prinicipe Ambar on Saturday. My sister, my husband and I were there from January 12-19th 2008.
This was my fifth time in the Dominican Republic, and the second time at the Bahia Principe in Punta Cana. We reserved through exittravel.ca.
We returned to this resort since we were sure that the service, food and beach were impeccable! The new Ambar section exceeded our expectations. As soon as we arrived and checked in, I went over to the Concierge desk, and booked our 6 A la Carte dinners.
The food at the Ambar buffet was even better than the Punta Cana side. I highly recommend the Don Pablo restaurant and the Italian restaurant on the Bavaro side. The Mediterranean and Mexican restaurants are good too.
Our room was impeccable, and stocked with mini bottles of Alcohol every day. We did not have to tell the maid once to clean the room, she gave us wonderful service.
There are many activities at this hotel, and you will never get bored. The Activity board is close to the Bavaro Lobby.
We went to the Pueblo Principe every night and went to their club afterwards.
The only thing missing was music at the Ambar pool, so we would go over to the main pool for a bit of action!
I would also recommend the hotel to get a better DJ at the Conga club at Pueblo Principe. Many young people go to this hotel, and better music would enhance the ambiance.
If you are going to this hotel, make a CD of current music for the DJ, he will really appreciate it, since all the CD's that he has are from the 90's!
We will definitely be back this summer for some more Bahia Principe!
It was Okay ...
I stayed at the Bahia Ambar from Jan 13 - Jan 20
I would say my overall experience was 3 1/2 to 4 stars.
Hotel has potention to be 5 star.
Before I write my review, let me just say that I always read every review here with an open mind since everyone has their own expectations of what they want from their vacation and what defines it as 'great'. (face cloths are a must-have to some people, premium liquor to others, and great beach to a few like me, so take my review for what it is, just my honest opinion, and decide for yourself what is important to you)
Just to give some context and my expectations for this trip:
- traveling with significant other, we are both in our 20's
- this is my fourth all-inclusive (Riu Bambu in punta cana, Bahia Principe Akumal in Mexico, Melia Cayo Coco in Cuba)
- looking for beautiful beach, good food, and some entertainment (not hard partying)
Arrived late at night, so did not receive the welcome drink or wet towels, noticed that it only happens if you come in during the day time.
We were dropped off the bus on the Bavaro side of hotel. since i had read the reviews, I knew that my check in had to be in Ambar reception, so I told them right away that i was an ambar guest so I did not end up lining up for nothing. A lot of people were confused. During my stay, I learned that everytone gets dropped off the Bavaro side since the buses cannot come in further. So if you are a golden, diamond, premier or ambar guest, you must tell them and they will ask the bell boy to take you to your respective reception for check in. I notice that they have a small room called Ambar Reception next to the Bavaro reception, but never saw it used. They just send you to your own.
Check in was fast, they give you a map and tell you how to get to your room & tell you that bell boy will take your luggage later. A little confusing, specially if you are trying to find your room at night.
GROUNDS - 5 STAR
everything is very well taken care of, ambar section specially is clean & new, but whole resort was well maintained. We stayed in building 68 which is very close to the beach, but our room did not have the best view: trees & fencing from other resort, with partial ocean view far away. Since I was never in balcony, this did not really matter to me. Building 60 seems like a good spot, with view to pool & beach. But all Ambar rooms are close to beach.
Note: emailed resort ahead of time and asked for two beds in third floor and got a quick reply from sales rep (Laura's email: [--]) and got request fulfilled.
Room was large & had a pretty big bathroom.
BEACH - 5 STAR
This is the main reason I travel to punta cana: powdery white sand and wavy clear turquoise waters. miles and miles of beach on both sides that you can walk forever.
The weather on the first four days was great: sunny with a breezy, so the beach was great.
It rained on the last three days, so it was a bit cooler and there was some seaweed (seaweed kept moving, sometimes in front of iberostars, then majestic, then bahia) but there is nothing you can do about that, so in terms of beach, it was perfect.
Although the hotel is on a great beach, every hotel in the area has a great beach front, so the credit really goes to punta cana.
FOOD - 3 STAR
This is where the big disappointment was. After reading the reviews and how great the food was, I think my expectations were too high. To be clear, I did not get sick from the food nor had any upset stomachs. There was actually a lot of variety, but it was the same variety everyday !!
Don't get me wrong, I'm not that picky about food, but everything tasted like it was cooked until there was no taste left. Nothing was really seasoned and I had to add salt to everything. I don't want to give the impression that you will starve, because you won't. But for a 5 star, the food was just okay. (in comparison to the Bahia in Mexico, Mexico was so much better, both in terms of service and food quality). Surprisingly, the food at buffet was actually at the same level as the a la carte. Usually I look forward to the dinners, but after a while I thought I might as well eat at buffet. Here's the ala carte we tried in order of preference:
1. Mediterranean El Olivo @ Ambar Side
Buffet appetizer that you serve yourself, pretty good.
I had the rib-eye and it was actually pretty tender and juicy, pretty good size. Partner had the garlic shrimp and also good, but small portion. Very quiet environment.
2. Mexican El Charro @ Bavaro Side
The service was great, very friendly and casual. Buffet appetizer.
I had the beef fajita, was tough and chewy. Partner had the shrimp fajita and liked it.
3. Japanese @ Punta Cana Side
Beautiful restaurant. Main course is served tepanyaki style. appetizer was sushi (okay, nothing compared to real sushi in canada) and tempura (pretty good). Chef tried to be funny, but didnt do any real tepanyaki show, just some noise with his spatulas. still, it can be an entertaining dinner if you have kids.
Food was just okay.
4. Gourmet Cafe de Paris @ Bavaro Side
Order everything from menu. They served an amuse bouche that tested really stale. Had trouble communicating with server regarding some ingridients, some if you have allergies, make sure you confirm with waiter since they will nod or say yes to everything even if they don't understand your request. I had the Land & Sea dish (surf & turf) and the lobster was cooked for so long that I couldnt even cut it with my knife. I cracked the shell yet could not cut it since it was so tough. The steak was also really chewy and tasteless. Partner had the pasta, it was just okay. Overall dinner took more than two hours.
5. Italian Portofino @ Ambar Side
This was the most horrible dinner. Waiters took our orders, then we got up to get appetizers from buffet section. Then waited for an hour and 10 minutes to get our first course. During that time, we asked the head waiter for our order and he said he was going to check & peaked inside the kitchen & yelled out something & never came back. As we were about to leave, we got our first course, and let's just say it was not worth the wait: mushroom past for me & mushroom risotto for my boyfriend. Then waited another 20 minutes and still did not get second course and told the waiter we were leaving & please cancel the rest of orders. He had a hard time communicating but basically signaled that he was going to check. Then he came back & said it would take only a minute, which it did. I had the rack of lamb & boyfriend had the past, both mediocre, so we left. During this whole time, I looked around and saw that everyone was waiting too, and even one couple who was already there when we arrived left half way. Not the waiters fault, something was wrong in the kitchen and nothing was coming out.
6. Gourmet Donpablo @ Ambar side.
we had this restaurant booked but never went because:
On the fourth day on my vacation, I started having a really strong allergic reaction to something I eat (I believe it was the seafood I had during lunch on the Ambar buffet, most probably the squid/calamari sortta thing, but not sure). I started to break out in hives and my whole body was swollen and itchy. I was as red as a tomato with big bumps everywhere. Luckily I took every type of medication with me as precaution (since they are very expensive on resort, if they have it at all). Took two allergy pills and put anti-itch cream everywhere and went to bed at 10pm trying not to scratch myself to death. Woke up next day better, no more bumps. From then on, I stopped eating seafood & was careful with what I ate, but still kept getting a slight allergic reaction (my ears were read & swollen, as well as the back of my knee) and back in canada for two days and still having slight reaction.
So just a word of caution, start your vacation eating only what you know and slowly move to other things.
DRINKS - 5 STAR
I am not a big drinker (had mostly cocktails: coco locos were great), but I did notice they had all premium brands in ambar side and did not see anyone being charged extra when they ordered. not sure if the same in rest of resort. I can't really judge how the other drinks are since did not try them, but what i had was good. They served president beer, and used brugal rum for my drinks.
SERVICE - 4 STAR
I thought it was okay. yes, there is a lot of people in staff that does not speak english, but that is not a big deal. The guest services staff understood english well. Some people in the reception had a little bit of trouble, but overall no big problems. Everyone was polite, some more friendly, others more to themselves.
One little note: if you expect to be pampered like in mexico, you might be disappointed. The level of service is not the same as in mexico (where they have been doing for a lot longer than DR) or north america, but everyone was polite, and that is all I ask for. If you are friendly, they will be friendly back (specially if you speak spanish or try to).
We did not get my beach towels in room. went to guest services next day & asked if I should go to the hut. she told me that they would not give to us since we have no towel cards but are supposed to get them in our room at arrival. She called them to drop off at room. went to room 20 minutes after and no towels yet, so decided to just go to beach. since we had no towels, we just walked on beach. One hour later we went to room, since there was no towel we went back to guest services & she made another call to deliver them. Asked us if we had checked everywhere in room for them. Two hours later still not towels in room. Made a call to guest services and she said it would be delivered. After 30 minutes she called us to check if we got them, but we didn't. Then again 30 minutes later she called again to check, still nothing, so she made another call. Finally at end of day we got a knock and someone just handled them to us. no apologies or explanation.
I tipped most of the time, and don't think it made a difference, nor were they really expecting it, specially in the ambar side.
* I never got any towel animals which I usually get at other hotels.
* I got turn down service once, they knocked and gave me an extra towel and chocolates.
* never used the butler or saw him.
* there was no room service menu in the room, so the night we arrived (too late to go to buffet) we ordered room service (24 hours at ambar) and got my order 20 minutes later, so it was fine. Another guest told me that she ordered but never received it.
* guest services was very helpful when changing dinner reservations
* apparently resort was overbooked, since the hotel was offering free excursions and stay at other bahias or neighboring resorts plus $100 if you check out of your room. We were tempted to do it since we wanted to visit the Bahia at Samana, plus they would give us a free excursion to saona & then a tour of santo domingo plus $200. Since it was like going to an overnight excursion and staying at another 5* hotel, we signed up for it. Woke up at 6am, packaged our things and checked out by 7am. Then waited in the bus, until someone told us that it was cancelled because it rained in santo domingo, so instead we were going to samana to see whales. Since we really wanted to see the city, and did not feel like travelling 4 hours each way just to see whales, we cancelled. Had to talk to management & eventually they gave us our room back. So we wasted the morning checking out & packing.
ENTERTAINMENT - 3 STAR
I was a bit bored during the day. I pretty much spent a lot of time reading & tanning on the beach. My boyfriend was playing volleyball. Other than aerobics on the beach, I never saw any other event. No bingo, no pool games, nothing. Usually I find a list of events or activities in the room, but there wasn't any. Checked the Bavaro lobby for a list of activities, they only have the night show themes. I only found which activities are offered while going through some of the binders at guest services. Still, most events were exercise (i.e. yoga, aerobics, etc early in the morning). No paella or barbeque on the beach, no games. The ambar section was specially quiet. Only the main pool has music playing.
We went into the Riu Bambu next door and it was so lively. You can see the animation team really interacting with guests and getting them to take part in games.
At night, the bahia has a show at the main theatre Tropicana at 9:45pm (only one worth watching was michael jackson on mondays) then another show at the pueblo principe plaza at 11:00am. Don't miss it on sundays & mondays: mr principe and perfect couple. Both very funny shows with audience participation. The rest of the week is just house bands.
Casino is open 4pm to 4am. it has texan holdem, a roulette table and a couple of slot machines.
Disco is open midnight to 2am. never went, so can't review it.
BENEFITS OF AMBAR:
* closest to beach & new
* unlimited a la carte
* free safe
* beach towels in room (supposedly) (you still exchange them yourselves in hut)
* rope & slippers in room
* flat screen tv
* bigger washroom (tub & shower separate)
* adults only (if that is an upside for you)
Since the ambar is still pretty new, when I booked it, it was the same price as the general section. so it was worth staying at ambar. I am assuming that the price for ambar will increase soon, so it will depend on price difference whether ambar is still better than the general section.
Overall, I had a good time, but not a great time.
I would recommend the hotel or even go back ONLY if was a really good deal. Just go with moderate expectations, the hotel & beach are great, but the food & entertainment need a little improvement.
Did not meet expectations
My boyfriend and I just got back from our trip to Punta Cana where we stayed at the Ambar section of Gran Bahia Principe. We had read some reviews and we booked our trip with high hopes for our stay. Unfortunately, the hotel did not live up to our expectations.
We arrived at the main lobby of the hotel late in the day (after 10pm) and were driven to the Ambar lobby to do the check-in. I thought that both lobbies were absolutely beautiful, with marble floors and an open concept. There were few walls, so they were open to the breezes.
We checked into the hotel at the Ambar lobby and were told to mark our luggage with our room number and the bellboy would bring it to us. Then we were given a map and pointed in the direction of our room, then sent off to find it for ourselves. It wasn't too difficult, each villa was numbered and then the rooms were the last 3 digits. It would have been nice if we had a guide though.
When we got to our room, the first thing that we noticed was the smell. It was closed up, with no air conditioning on and smelled very musty. We turned on the air conditioning and hoped that it would clear up. Over the course of the week, we asked that they spray the room with something to make it smell better. After first thinking that we wanted it sprayed for bugs, they figured it out and it did improve. It never completely went away though.
We never asked to switch rooms because we had a nice corner room overlooking the edge of the resort, so our view was of lots of palm trees and we could still see a bit of the ocean. When we were out on the balcony, we could hear the birds chirping out in the trees and were not disturbed by a lot of activity within the resort.
The closet was fairly spacious and had an ironing board, umbrella (which we didn't notice until we checked out), robes, slippers, and a safe. The safe was very safe. We put our passports and money in it the first night, and then couldn't open it the next day. We had to call for maintenance to come and fix it. It was a bad motor and he had to take it apart and put a new one in. There was also a vent for the air conditioner on the ceiling in the closet - watch out for condensation and don't put anything on the shelf directly underneath it.
The bathroom had a separate shower and tub. The shower had a choice between using the regular shower head or the wand. I used the tub once during our stay and found that the nozzles for all of the jets were very loose so you can't set them to one position. When I turned it on at the beginning, it immediately sprayed upwards and soaked my book. After adding more water, and watching where I positioned myself, I was able to avoid too much spray into the air, but it was disappointing because a jet tub was one of the things I was looking for in a hotel room. As for the toilet, the seat was not quite the right size, and seemed very loose so you had to watch when you sat down. The rest was pretty standard - sink, hairdryer, vanity mirror. It was a good size though, and they provided shampoo, body wash, moisturizer and a loofah.
We had a king-size four post bed with what looked like a wooden tic-tac-toe board overhead. That was actually a pretty good place to hang clothes. I found it very comfortable, and very big.
The dresser had three drawers on the left and a mini-bar on the right hand side. The middle was open, with a seat underneath. It had a flat screen TV on it (which we did not use) and a coffee machine. Each day, the maid would make sure that we had a big bottle of water available, and the bar was stocked with Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Tonic Water, 2 beers, and a couple of small bottles of liquor. The mini-bar was included in the price of the room. More storage space was available in the two nightstands, which had one drawer each.
The room also had a small table and chairs under the ceiling fan, and a sitting area near the balcony.
Since we arrived so late the first night and only had a small dinner on the plane, we immediately looked around for a room service menu. We couldn't see one, so we called down to the desk and found out that they don't have one. They told me what was available, and it was things like hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, chicken nuggets. During our stay, we tried the nachos and the nuggets. Both we alright, but nothing spectacular. The nuggets looked like a type that you buy from the frozen food section. Room service should take 45 minutes, but one time it took over 2 hours because they first delivered to the wrong room.
Housekeeping was okay. On arrival, we saw a card with our maid's name on it, and she was responsible for our room the entire stay. They cleaned during the day and had a turn down service at night. Each day we dutifully left a tip for her and the room was cleaned while we were gone. It wasn't until our last full day there that we came back early to find the tip gone, but the room still unclean. She came by later to clean up. On the bus-ride back to the airport, we heard that a supervisor came to one of the other people's rooms, picked up the tip and left. It made us wonder whether the maid ever got any of our tips.
Service around the resort was mixed. Some of the staff were very friendly and helpful, while others just did their jobs. I had a tough time getting a glass of water at the buffet sometimes because it was hard to get someone's attention - and then get them to follow through. Of the great staff, some of the waitstaff in the restaurants would laugh and joke around with the customers, and many would sing a bit while they worked. I distinctly remember one of the waiters at the Brazilian restaurant who let us know what type of meat was on the skewers by imitating the animal it came from. Cluck cluck cluck - chicken! Oink Oink - pork. The way he did it was hilarious.
Many of the signs and menus were available in multiple languages, and we did not have very many problems being understood. My Spanish is very rusty, having only taken one year of it in high school, years ago. So, I thought we got by very well. Some of the translations into English on the menu were absolutely hilarious though.
Each time we had a problem and called down to the desk, we spoke with someone who was fairly good at English. The maintenance guy was not good at English, so we were kept informed of what needed to be done with the safe by someone at the desk who was able to speak to us. There was one nice thing that they did, which seemed like overkill at the time, but was probably a good thing. They followed up on everything by calling our room afterwards. Did the maid spray for the smell? Did you get your room service okay?
We had thought that there was a butler/concierge attached to each villa, but we never saw one.
The Ambar section of the resort is limited to adults and the facilities are supposed to be for the Ambar or Diamond Club guests only. We saw signs everywhere that it was ADULTS ONLY and we only saw one kid walking down a path in that section.
We had white bracelets to wear to show that we were able to use the facilities and enjoy all of the extras that were offered. I only noticed one time where it made a difference. A non-Ambar couple had gone to the buffet in an Ambar-only restaurant by the beach. One of the staff noticed and asked them to leave.
The beach was nice and had many chairs and umbrellas set up. They had music playing which was kind of an upbeat reggae. I would rather listen to the waves, but it wasn't bad music. It was pretty crowded each time we went, but we were able to find somewhere to set up. I only went into the ocean once, and there was some seaweed there, but that was after a couple of rainy days so it is probably to be expected.
The pool was also very crowded. They had umbrellas set up there as well and since I am not all that prone to sunbathing (as in never), I appreciated that. The pool had a few sections with jets that you can slip into from the main pool. It is the same temperature as the rest of it but has some strong jets and seats along the edge. There was another section that was fenced and walled off from the rest of the pool, which we thought might be the hot tub. It turned out to be the slightly warmer tub so we didn't stay in there long. There was a swim-up bar and a hut where you could exchange your towels. We were disappointed that the pool had specific hours that you could use it. It was well-lit at night and we thought that it would have been nice if we could go for a night-time swim.
It is a pretty big resort and we did not see all of it. They provide bus service to get around the main areas and have them running fairly often. Their "buses" had bench seating and a roof, with some plastic to pull down on the sides for when it rains. There was nightly entertainment, a disco and a casino available, but we didn't make use of them.
We found it a bit difficult to keep up with the scheduled meal times. Breakfast was served from 8:00 to 10:30, lunch from 1:00 to 3:30, and dinner from 7:00 to 10:00. Since we like to stay up late and sleep in, we were always rushing to breakfast at the last minute, then trying to schedule in lunch, which always seemed to interfere with something else we wanted to do, like relax on the beach. (It wasn't until the last day that we realized that we could have gone to the beach-side restaurant for lunch each day). Dinner was by reservation at one of the a la carte restaurants, or you could go to the main buffet. When we arrived, 3 reservations had already been set up for us. On the third day, we stopped at the desk to make more reservations, and a few of the restaurants were full, so it is best to do it early.
The Ambar buffet was pretty good. They had two cooking stations set up as well as the regular cold and heating lamp sections which you would see at most buffets. You could get eggs cooked for you in the morning - omelets, soft or hard boiled, fried, etc. They also cooked up french toast and pancakes regularly, so you could usually get something fresh. At lunch, the cooking stations were used for pasta at one and meat or fish at the other. I really enjoyed getting a fresh plate of pasta with my own selection of toppings and sauces. It had a somewhat varied selection, and they did change a few things each day.
The menu at the restaurants was not large. Many of them had a buffet and then you could order the main dinner as a la carte. I had trouble getting my meat cooked well done, but otherwise it was fine. We did wonder why the Greek and Italian restaurants didn't seem to have anything that we would consider Greek or Italian food though.
Two of the restaurants that we went to were on patios right near the beach. The night that we went to the BBQ one, it was really nice sitting outside and having our meal. The night at the Brazilian one, it was pouring down rain, so we had to watch our step and try to stay under the umbrellas.
Overall, the food at the restaurants was fairly good, not 5 star, but good. The room service food, however, left much to be desired.
There is a common section to the resort where you can go shopping. They had a few indoor boutiques, and a lot of stands. Indoors, the prices were shown and seemed to be set. Outdoors, you have to play let's make a deal.
If you like to spend the time haggling over prices, then this is the place for you. Most of them seemed to have a great time talking it up. "My friend, I have a great deal for you. You just put everything you want into a pile and I will give you the best deal because I like you." They start out quite high and then you can get them down to something more reasonable. Our tour operator said to start off an opening offer of 10% of the price they first tell you, and that seemed to be pretty good advice.
One of the vendors asked us if we had anything Canadian to give him because he loves Canadians. He showed us what others had given him - a toonie, a 5 dollar bill, Canadian tire money, and various business cards. I hadn't thought to really bring anything like that, but I had a pen from a Montreal hotel in my purse, so I gave him that.
We paid for everything in US dollars and never really had to make an exchange for Dominican pesos.
Overall, I felt like the Ambar had the potential to be something really great, but they were not there yet. If they had a deal on prices, I would go back, but I think that I would prefer to try another resort.
Other guests seemed to have more problems than we did, and I am glad I didn't hear about them until the ride back to the airport because it would have tainted my vacation if I heard about them earlier.
Based on our experience, I would give them 3.5 stars, 4 if I was being generous.
Service spoils the experience - otherwise loved the resort
We had booked at the GBP Punta Cana, but were upgraded without being informed to the GBP Ambar 'adult only' section. (they were over-booked) We only realised that when we looked carefully at the labelling on the room amenities like umbrella, free safe usage, bath robes, slippers, etc.
Though our overall experience was 'above average' mainly due to the wonderfully kept grounds, pool area, the beach, and the ambiance.
What could have made this better is SERVICE. My wife and I have been traveling to the Punta Cana for the past 3 years at different resorts and so I have experienced better service. Friends that traveled with us, were sent to a room that was still occupied, and when they were finally given a room (after repeat trips to the GBP Punta Cana lobby - which is far from the room they were sent to in GBP Ambar section) they got a room where the bathroom was not cleaned.
Both of our repeat attempts to get the fridge restocked with some 'pringles' went un-fulfilled. Face towels seemed to be scarce. and took almost the end of the trip before we got some.
We are in our very early 50's but we found the Ambar lobby 'boring' sure it is nice to look at and sit and have a drink, just like at the pool area, but there is no music, and despite the dull trio that played in the lobby on 4 of our 7 nights there, they were gone by 10:00pm, just after we managed to get one dance in on their last song. The staff expect a tip at each transaction, which made some of our pool bar trips embarrassing as we did not always have some dollar bills handy.
It seemed the 'adult' section was geared to 'much older' crowd. as there was no activities, music, or 'liveliness' experienced on our other trips.
The nightly entertainment was poor, but to be fair I must say, we were disillusioned after the first couple of nights, so did not bother to go another nights.
Since we were 'upgraded' we were not allowed to eat at only 3 restaurants. that turned out to be a joke, as, as soon as we tried to book restaurants on our first day there, we were informed most of them were booked for the rest of the week, and had to pick from a choice of restaurants we did not want to eat at.
We tried to go to a 'French' Gourmet restaurant one night without a reservation as it was 1. empty, and 2. still only 7 pm, we were turned away. When we finally managed to go there on our reserved night, we were disappointed with the service (took two hours to have an appetizer, soup, main dish and dessert served) Our friends had high praise for the Japanese restaurant.
The Brazilian, Italian, Mexican were partially buffet style, as only the main dish was served to you, the rest of the meal, you had to get from the buffet.
We have high praise for
Jorge : english speaking Manager, who came thru for our friends sake with a surprise birthday cake for his birthday, and champagne at the Mexican restaurant on our last night there.
Wilkin : Very friendly funny waiter at the Portofino 'Italian' restaurant, who made us feel welcome and laugh with his comments. Because of his enthusiasm, we were afraid he will get fired soon.
I am sure most of the staff work hard and work long hours, and I dont want to put them all down, but poor service comes not from bad people, but from bad upper management. This place has great potential, if they could only motivate their employees, to smile, and to respond quickly to requests that are not necessarily demanding.
We understand that, just as we do not know Spanish, and we try our best to communicate with spanish words, the staff right from the main desk onwards, speak little english considering a majority of their clientèle is english speaking.
would I go back here? Yes for the atmosphere, but not till I see positive reviews here about service improvements.
there is just too much competition in the area and a great choice of other 5 * resorts in the neighborhood.
It was good but not 5 star
This is a beautiful resort but there are problems. Overall, the trip was worth the price we paid.
Beach - no problems here. Loved the beach. The water in the Ambar pool was quite cool during our stay but that was not a problem as the beach was wonderful. One warning if you are going to the resort (not the Ambar section) with children. Topless is not frowned upon and neither are thongs (even for men). So, if you have a problem with your children seeing these things, this is not the place for you.
Excursions - went on a couple of excursions. Both excursions were great although the Catamaran was a bit expensive compared to the other excursion. But, it was worth the extra money.
Food - loved the buffets. We were booked into the BBQ buffet one night and it was wonderful. The restaurant food was disappointing. Japanese food is not supposed to be laced with garlic. Other meat, including shellfish, tended to be undercooked and tasted like they'd been frozen for a while. After a few nights, we gave up on the restaurants and stuck to the buffets. There was enough variety that we could get something different to eat at every meal.
Drinks - try out the cocktail of the day each day. It was usually superb.
Service - not the best. Our room had a problem which was not fixed the entire stay. We had to find a work around as it was a safety issue. And, this was reported three times during the stay. We spoke to others in our villa and everyone that we spoke to had some kind of problem with their room which required attention (in other words, they weren't just minor issues like the bathroom door not closing completely tight. They were safety issues). It also took all day, some days, to get the room cleaned - although a good job was done. One night fresh towels didn't come until 10:15 pm. The lack of English among the staff was the biggest problem. Even people at the reception desk had very limited English.
I really felt like we had to tip the staff, even if a good job wasn't done, due to the poor economic conditions in the country. Although I was always worried that the tips were going towards alchoholism.
Decor - they definitely rushed to finish construction. Grout missing between tiles.....But, that is only if you look (I am currently renovating a house so I do look). Overall, the decor looks really good on the surface. I would have liked some pamphlets in the room about where to find things (like the ice machine which is hidden quite well with only a very small picture on the wall to point the way).
Shopping - the shopping was a disappointment. Many cashiers
could not speak English. If you showed them a credit card they would look at you and sigh because they had to get a calculator, figure out US$$$ for the purchase and show you the amount on the calculator (they didn't know how to say the amount in English). Twice, at two different stores, the credit card machine had problems and I had to go to the ATM to get cash.
Entertainment - didn't partake in any entertainment. The theatre had what looked like good shows but they didn't start until 9:45. We like to go to bed early and get up early so they were a no go. Even the Lion King, which children in the resort would have enjoyed, didn't start until 9:45.
Yes, I have lots of problems shown in the review but I wanted to let people know what to expect. But, I went there to see something of another country and to relax on a beautiful beach. Both these objectives were met. So, although there were problems the trip was overall a good one - especially considering what you get for the price.
Could have been better...
My fiance and I went to the Ambar over Christmas, December 21 - 28th. We booked with Air Transat flying out of London ON.
Flight was great - no problems at all and our transfer to the hotel went smoothly. We arrived at the hotel about 10:30PM.
We called room service, we were famished, it tool almost 1 1/2 hours to get our food. We'd ordered a hot dog & a hamburger. That was the only time we used room service.
Room was lovely. We were missing a shower head and it wasn't installed until our last night after asking 3 days in a row.
We had a leak above our toilet for two nights - it was finally fixed. No other problems with the room.
The pool, grounds, beach were great... it was quiet with no small children running around. We have 8 of our own, and so the quiet was lovely. There was no loud music poolside either... very relaxing.
The service staff was generally quite good. Not 5 star good, but alright. Basically friendly, although the language difference was a problem. Too often you'd say something and you'd get a vacant smile in return, but for the most part the communications were alright.
The food was excellent. The Japanese restauarant was a hoot.. .they tried to tell us they had no chopsticks, but I pushed, and they found some. Great evening there!
The buffet's were all very good. Tons of selection and all great quality. Christmas they did a seafood buffet that was out of this world. However they need to be more consistant with their dress code rules. We were advised that long pants weren't necessary in the buffet, and on the last night they turned us away becuase my man wore Bermuda shorts for the only time that week. We went to one of the buffet's in the main resort and it was no problem. Also, the first three mornings he wore a sleevless t-shirt to breakfast no problem, the 4th morning he was told to go back and put on a sleeved shirt. Minor inconveniences...but they need to know what their policies are, and follow them all the time.
The booze wasn't the best, but we managed... lol They did have a lovely 'champagne' that was available at most bars and I certainly enjoyed that. My fiance & I both loved the cigar bar... we dopped in most evenings after dinner for a cigar and a liquer and felt like James Bond & his girl... lots of fun.
We met a great group of people from all over Canada... Montreal, Emonton, and some from clsoer to home as well.
Our dissapointment was the lack of customer service when we had our problems with the plumbing. The service man came very quickly, but nothing was resolved quickly and the customer service reps were of no use to us. It was our on site Air Transat rep that finally got some results for us. We were hoping for some kind of comensation for the missing shower head and leaky cieling and all we got was a fruit plate on our last evening there.
The area has so many great resorts, so because of the lack of response to our problems, we won't go back to this resort again. I would hope that once it's been open for a while longer, that every thing would run smoothly. It certainly has the potential to be a great resort, but it's not quite there now.
One of the daily activities
Another beach view
I HAVE HEARD THAT THE BEACH AT BAHIA PRINCIPE HAS TROUBLE WITH SAND FLIES. I AM TRAVELLING THERE IN DECEMBER. SHOULD I BE WORRIED AS I AM TAKING MY 4 YEAR OLD SON AND DO NOT WANT HIM TO GET BITTEN AS MUCH AS THE REPORTS I HAVE READ ON DEBBIES DOMINICAN RESORTS REVIEW WEBSITE SAY.
Re: BAHIA PRINCIPE
That is not completely true, I'm from Dominican Republic, the place has some flees but it's nothing to worry about, have fun!
Re: BAHIA PRINCIPE
I went to the Bahia Principe last year and didnt even notice any sand flies. My 6years old sister was with us and we didnt have any problems. Loved my trip and loved the resort. Enjoy and drink a good banana mama!
Bahia Principe - San Juan **Alcohol**
Does this resort of imported drinks also? I am truly not a fan of rum, wine or beer and I need to know if they are going to charge extra or not.
Re: Bahia Principe - San Juan **Alcohol**
The hotel have all types of alcoholic drinks be it national or international included, they won't charge you anything for your choice of drinks inside the hotel, be it beer, rum whiskey, wine gin etc... Most of the drinks are not premium brands of course, but just outside the hotel, there's pueblo principe, a street inside the complex where there's a couple of bars that carry all the top brands and all in general... Single malt anyone?
Re: Re: Bahia Principe - San Juan **Alcohol**
how far is bahia principe from cabarete and sosua?
Re: Bahia Principe - San Juan **Alcohol**
Bahia Principe Hotel is about 00:45 minutes to cabarete and 00:55 to sosua hour by car, that's the average at daytime.... it can be done in a lot less time, but is just a two lane country road.
Punta cana hotel Majestic or gran bahia principe
Hi I'm planning a trip in July for a large group with children. I'm trying to decide which hotel would be better to stay at. Has anyone stayed at both? Or recommendations? I stayed at the Paradissuis last year and loved it.