More about Gran Bahia Principe El Portillo
The animation group of the former El Portillo resort had some cool night shows. They usually announced the "theme" for the night already in the morning so you could have the choice of skipping it if it wasn't of your liking. The one I liked the most was their Michael Jackson show (my idol #1 as a musician, I don't care what he does as a person). Come as you are.
Metro Bus Company
Getting to El Portillo is possible by bus but only to a certain distance. Caribe Tours and Metro will take you to Samaná and from there you must take another bus. Metro will also take you to Sánchez which is closer to the hotel. We ordered pick up at Sánchez for an additional fee and asked the driver to stop to take pictures (like the one in the overview page). On the way back to Sánchez we 3 and 4 other people shared a hotel minibus to the Metro bus pickup and split the bill.
One of the places that we passed on our excursion was the airport. If you don't come in by air or by sea, it is a long three hour drive over bad roads to get to the rest of the D.R. This little airstrip at El Portillo is just a few miles east of Las Terrenas. Aerodomca has scheduled flights daily for the 30 minutes flight from Santo Domingo and air-charter service may be booked for flights from the major airports in the Dominican Republic(Puerto Plata, Santiago or Punta Cana).
I would definately go back!
I just got back from Gran Bahia Principe El Portillo and we absoutely loved it! This is definately a place people need to visit.
Brace yourself for a longer than expected bus ride as you are in a large bus and it cannot travel the way a smaller car would (1 1/2 ride).
The hotel is still under construction so I would recommend waitng a month or two before going. By then everything should be up and running one hundred percent. If you are not a patient person then do not go right now. The service was a little slow but nothing to really complain about and the workers there were excellent. The bartenders at the lobby bar were great and really know what they are doing.
Our room was was fine a little smaller the one we had at the Bahia in Puerto Plata, but its only there to sleep. There are larger rooms on the resort. We did hear a few complaints about other guests rooms so I guess we were lucky.
The pool area is a little small but with a beach as beautiful the one there, who needs the pool! You can walk for miles either way and see a lot of scenery and beautiful beach homes. There are also vendors who sell on the beach. You can really bargain with them and get some good prices.
Las Terranas is about a 10 minute taxi ride. For $20 u.s, It will get you there and back and you don't have to pay until they drop you back off at the hotel.
The food was good in the buffet. We were only able to visit the oriental a la carte and it was excellent. A word of advice, book them as soon as you get there because they book up fast!
I know we have seen some negative reviews, but I think in a little time this will be an excellent vacation destination. I would definately go back!
It's not a 4 star, maybe a 3 at best...wait till next year to go!
Just returned today from GBP El Portillo, we were there a week, out of the week we had 4 really good days, the rest it just rained, rained, rained....it was sooo windy you couldn't sit on the beach even under the palapas!
This hotel as someone else stated is part of the new Samana explosion for Bahia Principe chain. What they should have done was wait till everything was finished, worked out the kinks and then opened up with trained staff and everything up and running! They haven't and what has happened is that now people who have been there, seen what the problems are will NOT go back, and will NOT recommend this property to friends.
Having stayed at the GBP in Punta Cana, we thought this would be a nice change and loved the fact that you could snorkel off the shoreline. Yes, snorkelling was good, lots of colorful fish to see in only 3 feet of water, but be warned, there are deep pockets of water everywhere, and for those who are not good swimmers, this can be frightening. The water is deceiving, you think its shallow then step into a hole about 7 feet deep, then back up again to shallow spots....just be aware of this.
Our room was very nice, but was flooded in the bathroom every day, we reported it 3 times and finally the leak was fixed on day 5....till then we used all of our towels to mop the floor with. We went through a lot of towels!!! No mossies in our room, but found a cricket one day, a big roach the next....ground floor rooms beware, they come in from the rain and at night...., don't take one!
Food....OK but definitely not a big choice and several nights we ate buns and cheese for supper....mediocre at best and desserts were the same each night, cake mostly and something that resembled creme de carmel except it had some stuff in it (no idea what that was) it was unpleasant.
Gourmet resturant: After waiting 1/2 hour to even order at 8.30pm, my hubby and I decided to just go to the buffet, we never went back....heard that it took some people 3 hours to get dinner! Booking a dinner was another nightmare, guest services said NO early bookings, yet the resturant was always half empty during this time....we finally figured it was so they could manage to cook the meals and get them served as they didn't have enough staff to operate it.
Entertainment we never saw any....guess we are not partygoers. Internet was always busy, big lineups, and finally on Friday they started charging $5 US for 30 mins to use it when it was supposed to be Free!
Bus ride was exactly 1 1/2 hours to the resort from airport and not what was advertised. Las Terranas.....don't bother going there, not much to look at, French owned stores are very pricey, and IF you do, be wary of people following you around, they are looking for any opportunity to mug you! Yes they are poor, but that doesn't mean they have to steal from the people who are bringing work through tourism to their towns etc.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times and don't walk outside the town limits by yourself, or at night!
On the whole, we made it good, but would definitely NOT go back to this part of the country....Punta Cana YES, as that is a 5 star property, but not El Portillo.
Serious problems, but hotel has potential
We staid at El Portillo from Dec. 25 2006-Jan 1 2007. The hotel was still under construction and overbooked when we arrived.
We booked and paid for a Royal Golden Junior Suite, which we never got, although we eventally received a compensation.
After an interminable wait at reception (the staff seemed to be new and unsure of how to proceed), we were moved from room to room as they never seemed to get the right key to match the right room. Eventually, at 2:00 AM, we were left in a flooded room with rat droppings, unusable washroom, mold, holes in the wall with electrical wiring sticking out, no working phone, no working tv, sewer smell, etc. and still no working key!
However, it seems the construction workers on the grounds had a working key to our room since, the next morning, workers walked into our room without knocking (even though we had locked it with the bolt... which also did not work!).
After hours of negotiation, we obtained another regular room (we never had the Junior Suite or the Royal Golden services, even though the services were promised to us). This room was small, but fine (at least, it was dry!!!), and we then decided that we should simply try to enjoy the rest of our vacation.
The beach is large and beautiful (although you may not like swimming in the sea if you don't like snorkelling, as it is almost all coral). The food is very good. The common areas (those that are completed) are also beautiful and pleasant. Water sports were good.
Please note also that the Royal Golden club (and related services) do not exist yet, and neither do many of the services advertised in the brochures. There is only one counter (table) to deal with restaurant reservations and all other guest services, so expect long waits. In addition, the hours for those services are restricted. For example, we were once in line for these services with 3 other groups who had been waiting for more than an hour, when the hotel staff decided that the hours were over and that every one left in line would have to come back the next day! However, after an argument, they finally ended up serving everyone who was already in line.
We spent countless hours in the lobby and negotiating with management during this vacation, which is not at all what we had planned!
On a final note, the area is absolutely beautiful and green, with gorgeous mountains and countless palm trees.
Our travel agency representative was very helful. He told us that many people experienced problems during that week, and that we were some of the more unlucky ones (although not the only bad cases).
Great Place to Relax
My wife and I just got back on Saturday January 13 from the GBP El Portillo. We flew out of Toronto on January 6th with Sky Service. The flight was 3.5 hours, and immigration at the new Samana airport was easy as we were the only flight incoming at that time. After you get through immigration you are greeted by the travel rep and directed to the bus. The busses are very comfortable, and the 1.5-hour drive is very scenic, through the mountains with spectacular views of the ocean. Check in took a little while, but as we were leaving I spoke to the tour rep, and she told me that they were working on making it more seamless for the next week.
We had a great time at this resort! The resort is under construction, but interference is minimal. We were in building 19, which is at the back of the resort, and it was great. It was clean, quiet, and very enjoyable. The room had a comfortable King size bed, a Jacuzzi tub, mini-bar (for a $1 and a little note asking for extra cerveca you can get as many as you want), balcony, coffee maker, and satellite TV. Our first night we had a small leak from the ceiling in our bathroom, but we told the front desk, and it was fixed immediately. The front desk staff is more than willing to help!
The food at the resort was good. There was always something for everyone. I won’t get into details, but overall we liked what we had to eat. We ate at all the restaurants, and we never left hungry. We also had no problems ever at the bars. The bar staff was always friendly and wanted to make you happy.
The beach was my favourite part of the resort. The sand is not the white sand of Punta Cana, but rather a golden sand, which is fine, and very comfortable for walking. The water was very beautiful, with waves crashing against the Reefs about 50 meters from shore, leaving the beach calm for the awesome snorkeling. My wife has never snorkeled before, but she has now become an addict. There were so many species of fish in every size, shape, and colour. It was breathtaking!
We also did the Los Haïtises National Park tour. I would recommend it to anyone! It also takes you to Bacardi Island, where you get to spend a couple of hours on the beach!
Overall, I would recommend this resort to anyone who is looking to have a good time in the Dominican Republic, in a place which is sure to be the next big development spot. I have read all the reviews, and forums and was skeptical before we left, but we still had a great time. The people at the resort are learning, and if they know there is a problem they will try their best to fix it. We spoke to people who were at the resort for 2 weeks, and they said that the stuff that was the obvious problems in their first weeks were corrected by the second week. Things were getting better each day. The key thing to remember is “Don’t sweat the petty stuff, and don’t pet the sweaty stuff!”
This is all I can think to write at this time, so if you have any more questions, please feel free to email me at uofgaggie@hotmail and I will do my best to answer any of your questions!
dont go to this hotel
We just returned from the Bahia Principe Portillo in Samana
The reason we chose this hotel was we stayed at the proprerty in Punta Cana and it was wonderful. One would think that the Bahia chain has a standard to keep up with, well we were dead wrong.
First the hotel is an 1 1/2 hour bus ride from the new airport on very small winding roads, not a pleasant trip.
On arrival at the main gates you see that the advertised spa/shopping etc is under construction and not finished.
On arrival at the lobby, which is quite nice we were required to check in but were too early so we left our bags with the bell boy and the front desk suggested we have lunch
We went to the snack bar at the beach and after waiting for more than an hour for an order of french fries we left without lunch and went back to the front desk to see if our room was ready. After waiting in line for more than an hour (only 1 person was working at the front desk) we finally got keys to the room and after persuading the person to give us the key to the safety deposit box we went to our room. Front desk staff does not speak any English and most guests were Canadian.
Upon entering the very small room it was infested with mosquitos but we managed to kill quite a few of them.
We went to customer service in the lobby and asked them to fumugate our room and she said right away, never happened.
In speaking to other people at the hotel they had mice in their rooms, water coming in their rooms from the room above, leaks
No phones, some rooms only had mattresses and no beds, no clocks. 3 of our 7 nights we never had maid service or fresh towels. We called the front desk and they would dispatch a maid right away, she must have gotten lost for 3 days as she never showed up at our room.
The rest of the hotel now, pool is nice but small, beach is very nice. Bars at the pool ran out of beer a couple of times during the week, at times there were no glasses at the bars, no blenders to mix the drinks, flies and bees buzzing around the bar, only 1 person at each bar to serve.
Now the best was the food, NOT. it was a disgrace and if I was the food and beverage manager I would be ashamed that I was in charge of such garbage being served in my restuarant. The food was pure slop to make it sound ok, not a 4-5 star resort but perhaps a 1 star. Compared to the Punta Cana property they were probably making food to serve the dogs and cats that roamed freely around the property looking for food, not guests that had paid for a 4-5 star property. The service in the restuarants, buffet and a la carte was slim to none and he staff didnt appear to know what to do, NO TRAINING. I believe they went into Samana and asked anyone if they want a job, took them back to the hotel and gave them a uniform and said go work. One evening the person cutting a pork roast had a ripped t shirt and boots on and couldnt cut the meat, propably a maintenance worker.
All the managers or front desk staff could say was we are new and we are trying. To me that is not good enough for a chain hotel that advertises itself as an upscale 4-5 star chain of properties. Bahia has a reputation to keep up and obviously have failed dearly and should have not opened the doors to the GUINEA PIGS (clients).
The internet cafe consisted of 1 computer in the lobby for 600 guests and we had to line up for about 1 hours to use.
Entertainment staff is there and cute but dont do any work, sorry darts, they have a dart board nailed to a tree and have a contest at times, there is volleyball on the beach and that is about the amount of work they do, they have no clue what to do and you would think that the Bahia chain has a complete list of activities and equiptment that is required to make guests at the hotel happy.
Drinks at the lobby are ordered but many times dont find their way back to the client and the two ladies working in the lobby bar area dont understand what you are trying to order.
I think I have said enough and hopefully by reading this you will stay away from this hotel
Lastly the best meal I ate in the entire week was the food on the plane on the way home and we all know about airline food.
transportation to Samana
Hi, I have never been to the Dominican Republic and will be making a trip there in about a month. What is the closest, or the best, airport to fly into if I am going to the Samana Peninsula area? Any recommendations on a good place to stay? Resort type for the first trip. Then, I will need to rent for future trips.
Any help would be great.
Re: transportation to Samana
I think your best bet would be to go to a travel agent. You did not say where you are from and even in your home page you do not mention anything. Puerto Plata would the the airport for you. At the moment hurricane Dean is hitting the Caribbean it has gone past the Domincan Republic with some damages there. If you want to know more about the Dominican Republic there are very interesting travel pages in this site. Go to Destinations at the top and Search. Good luck!
Re: transportation to Samana
Samaná has its own airport (AZS) but I don't know if it caters a lot of airlines yet, so I'd say Puerto Plata POP is your best bet. Then you can take the Metro bus (Metro is the bus company name) to Samaná (about 2-3 hours). Want to avoid hassle? Ask your hotel if they can arrange for a taxi to pick you up or check out this site http://www.dominicanairporttransfers.com/ - I haven't used it so I can't tell how good or bad it is, since I'm a local I take the bus.
Samaná has a lot of all-inclusive good hotels. The one I stayed at is called Gran Bahía Príncipe El Portillo but it's located in Las Terrenas, an unspoiled part of Samaná. Read my page for tips and contact info.
Re: transportation to Samana
The Samana airport primarily caters to charter companies. If you have a package tour at an all-inclusive hotel, this flight can be included. Check w/ your agent and see if they can make this happen. Otherwise, Puerto Plata is the one and it is guaguas from there to Samana. it's a long way.