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“Another wonderful holiday”

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Luxury Bahia Principe Esmeralda Don Pablo Collection
Ranked #37 of 112 Hotels in Punta Cana
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 2 April 2012

We travelled to GBP Esmeralda from 26th March - 1st April 2012.

Arrived in Punta Cana after an 8 1/2 hour flight from Lisbon with Orbest. A good flight, can't complain but the flight was completely full and therefore very noisy but apart from that not a problem. After paying our 10$ each to enter the country - don't forget it's also 20$ to leave - and through passport control we got our luggage and off to find the Soltour rep. This was easy enough and she directed us to the number of our bus. On board most people were given their check in envelopes but we and two other couples weren't as everyone else was staying in the Bavaro hotel and we were in Esmeralda. Our rep accompanied us to the hotel which is only a 20 minute drive away which is great. We arrived in Bavaro reception and within minutes were boarded onto one of the shuttles with our luggage and down to the Esmeralda complex. Check in went quickly and off to our room - 94102. I had emailed before arriving to ask for building 90 or 91 and first or second floor but we were in building 94 first floor which is the building on the side of the lobby and restaurants. But really none of the villas are far away - it's only a minute walk from anywhere on the complex to get to the lobby. We also got a front facing room which was good. The room was fantastic - just like the pictures on the website and we had two queen beds and the sofa made up for our 11 year old. He never slept in it though as complained it was very hard (and he was right!) and slept every night with one of us. Bathroom great size with jacuzzi, double wash basins, separate shower and toilet. Lots of toiletries in bathroom so you don't really need to take your own shower gel or soap. Towels were changed twice a day - this is one of the great things about the Don Pablo Collection hotels - butler service came in every night and turned down the beds and took away the wet towels and left fresh ones. On the second to last night we arrived back and there were petals all over with candles lit and towel art and the jacuzzi was filled!! and a little note to enjoy!! Nice touch.

As far as the beach and pool are concerned, we didn't use the pool as we are beach lovers but you had to be down early (7.00 on) to reserve your beds and shades. Don't think we have ever had to do this so early anywhere - I know the hotel says you're not allowed to reserve shades either on the beach or around the pool, this is really only enforced at the pool area. If you leave anything unattended before 8.00am the security guard will remove it. They aren't as strict on the beach. We preferred the palhotas and beds a little further back from the 'front row' as this got really crowded and the Esmeralda does have a private part with different beds - the difference here is that there is more space and you're not as crowded. We divided our days between further back on the main beach and the Esmeralda private part. Beach is lovely, water fantastic though quite a lot of seaweed but who cares?!! Beach is constantly being cleaned by two or three employees who are always emptying the bins at the palhotas and picking up any rubbish. You won't see any rubbish lying around on the beach. There are two bars - one main one situated on beach near the Bavaro/Punta Cana side and a smaller one down near the Scuba Diving Centre which serves mainly Esmeralda guests. Give the guys that clean on the beach a small tip per day as they are only on a small wage - we were told maybe only 100/150$ a month.

As far as food is concerned we ate most meals in the Jazmin buffet - a really good selection and again, as it's DP Collection fillet steak, prime rib, sea bass most nights and lunch times too. Gala night is Thursday night - lobster and fillet steak - but YOU MUST BOOK!!! Noone told us and we found out by chance because we wanted to change one of our A la Carte bookings as it was on Thursday night and Customer Relations told us that on the night of the Gala you must book it. Lots of people don't know this as it's the main buffet restaurant so there were a few disgruntled guests - however I don't think they'd refuse you entry - you may have to wait a while. They make you book it so that they control the number of guests at each sitting as they are grilling lobster constantly. This night's meal was fantastic I think my hubbie had three lobsters!!! We also ate at the Bella Italia which was good and had reservations for the BBQ but ended up not going. Never any problems with any of the food and happily I brought home all the medication I took with me.

After dinner each night we caught the shuttle bus up to the main Bavaro lobby and the Tropicana theatre. Best shows are definitely Michael Jackson (Monday) and Circus (Thursday). Shows start at 9.00pm prompt and they repeat again at 10.15pm. However if you want a good seat you've got to get there early at around 8.15/8.30. A little gripe coming on - why is it that REEEEALLLLLLY tall men insist in sitting in the front row at these shows blocking the view for children behind. Honestly I know people have a right to sit where they want, but show some consideration for the kids. On our last night we moved three or four times as people kept sitting themselves down in front of us and they must have been 6' plus tall.

Our weather was decent enough the whole week. We had one day where it poured torentially and there was no beach to be had, but apart from some showers on other days the weather was fab and when the sun comes out it's hot. Take plenty of sunscreen with you as it's really expensive in the lobby shops.

As we have come to expect from Bahia Principe we had a great time - staff were on the whole very friendly - can only think of one guy who was in the pool hut giving out towels who wasn't. He was a bit nasty and thought that he could tell you how many towels you could have or not. As the weather was quite changeable and people would leave their towels in the rain they were changing them probably more often than usual. One day he told me 'no more' which I wasn't happy about as I was only asking for my one towel of the day... maybe he confused me with someone else or maybe I wasn't giving him a tip(!!) Anyway, apart from him, no other problems with any staff. The Priviledge Club vendors are a pain - they rang our room and cornered my husband with promises of free T-shirts etc., but we managed to avoid them as we're not interested in a timeshare in Punta Cana.

On the whole I have nothing but good to say - stay at the Esmeralda if you can get it as it's definitely worth the small amount of difference you pay at the Bavaro or Punta Cana. This is a huge resort but we never felt overwhelmed by the number of people there and it was full during our week. We were in GBP Coba in Mexico last year and I felt it was much more crowded with the Akumal and the Tulum resorts than this one and definitely didn't enjoy it as much.

Go and have a great time - you won't be disappointed!!!

Room Tip: Ask for front facing, first or second floor and buildings 90 or 91, but don't be disppointed as...
  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
8  Thank Gill C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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3,751 - 3,755 of 6,927 reviews

Reviewed 2 April 2012

It was great! Lots of fun and excellent food!! Great service too! Would definitely come back!

Stayed: December 2011, travelled with friends
4  Thank Mike K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 April 2012

Overall, I would say that this is a very nice resort. However since this was our 5th trip to Punta Cana I feel that I can make some comparisons to other resorts. I have never stayed at a 5 star resort in Punta Cana before so this is why I give it 4 stars in my comparison.

This is a very pretty resort and we chose this location this year because we were traveling with another couple and five 18 year old girls. We wanted something that would meet our standards but also provide a fun time for the girls. The beauty of staying at the Esmearlda was that we could enjoy the "5 Star" amenities and the girls could use the other sister resorts so that they would not get bored on this trip. The girls especially loved the Disco at the Punta Cana/Principe Resort. With the trolleys running until 3:00am it allowed them to safely get back to the Esmeralda after the disco closed.

The Punta Cana/Bahia resorts tend to have a lot of younger kids so that met their needs and fulfilled their "fun factor".

As always the Punta Cana Beach is absolutely beautiful. It goes for miles. I am a runner and I have never been able to get to the end of it in either direction after running for an hour. Consequently if you are a runner this is a great beach to run on. Don't bother bringing any work-out gear to this resort. The gym at both the Punta Cana Resort and at the Ambar Resort are a joke. Even this 120 lb girl wouldn't get a good workout in either of these gyms. They are small, dark, dreary and very little functioning equipment. I think the heaviest weights were 45 lbs.


The Good:
The Front Desk Reception: Excellent check in and were able to accommodate any requests. They speak very good English. Also the manager was very helpful in accommodating us as well.
Premium Liquor Bar: Maximo is the best. He took care of us for the entire week. Make sure you visit him at this bar.
Coffee: Was the best that I have every had in the Dominican
Room: Excellent, clean and very spacious. Our House Keeper was amazing. Although our friends did not get the same service from their housekeeper. We had towel art and treats galore.
Grounds: Very pretty and well maintained
Pool: Very pretty and quieter than the Punta Cana pool. However we are beach people so the pool was not a priority.
Pool Bar: Never a line to wait in.
Towels: Always plenty of clean towels
Trolley Service: They have a great system going on here to move people. Sometimes we used it, sometimes we walked.

Not up to 5 Star Observances:
They mow the lawn with whipper snippers so for 3 days in a row we listened to the sound of the snippers for hours in the morning. I know they have lawn mowers as I have seen them at other resorts. Perhaps they need to invest in a few so that the garden/lawn maintenance gets done faster and quieter.

The hallways in the villas are carpeted which keeps the noise down. However they never had a vacuum to clean them. They would use brooms to sweep instead. Not the best way to clean carpet. They even got down on their hands and knees to scrub the carpets. The carpet at the entrance to our villa #94 was old looking and stained. It looked like you were entering a service entrance at the start. Perhaps they need to replace the carpet at the entrance and invest in some vacuum cleaners.

You had to ask for face clothes, we got some but our friends didn’t get any. Also little things like they left the Kleenex box empty for 5 days. I would expect that at a 5 star you should get face cloths and Kleenex in your room. Our mini bar was well stocked but our friends didn’t have a well stocked mini bar. These are some of the inconsistent things we found in the rooms.

We found the workers in the buffets friendly on the first couple of days but then they ignored you. And yes we did tip a lot. We would have to ask for coffee, in fact a few times I got up and got my own because I got tired of waiting for some. The workers were more interested in setting and clearing tables than they were on providing service to the patrons.

At the A-la Carte restaurants, we would have to ask for cutlery and napkins. Some place settings had them and others did not. We would have to ask for water and wine. I would expect that at a 5 star you should get water immediately and wine should be offered. You shouldn’t have to ask for it and then wait for it???

The beach area reserved for the Esmeralda Guests is not the best part of the beach. You really didn’t have a view of the beach as you were set back from it. This area should run all the way down to the beach as it does at the Ambar and at the Punta Cana/Bahia areas. Why does the 5 Star area have the worst view/seating on the beach of all the resorts under the Bahia umbrella??? In fact part of the Esmeralda area is located behind the beach bar/washroom hut. Staring at the back of a hut is not my idea of prime seating on a beach.

The washroom in the beach bar was disgusting. Dirty and toilet tissue all over the floor. Yuck!

In the adult pool there was a scum on the water and I saw a few other nasty things floating by in the main pool. That is why I like the beach.

Lastly, I did get bitten by bugs. I know that this is not always the resorts problem but perhaps they might have been in our room as my partner and I were the only 2 out of the 9 of us that got badly bitten???

If I was to go back I would return to the Majestic Colonial or the Majestic Elegance which are 4+ Stars. They are better overall and are consistent. The beach area is less congested and open. Nightly entertainment was more enjoyable as well.

Overall I did like this resort however I feel they need to tweek a few things to bring it up to a real 5 Star standard.

Room Tip: We had Villa 94 which is farthest from the beach but still close to everything. I figure we were put...
  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
6  Thank HfxCityGirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 April 2012

This is our 5th time to Punta Cana and our first time at this resort.

The resort has lovely grounds and the rooms are very nice, but due to being part of a larger complex, it was too busy and huge for us. The food is very good and there are numerous places to eat, once you figure out which are the "allowable" restaurants.

The beach in Punta Cana is amazing, as always. But, again, given the volume of people here, it could be challenging to find a spot for the day. If you're going to spend the day at the pool, don't try to reserve before 8:00 AM (unless you're going to sit with your towels and items). We watched the security person every morning removing towels and taking bags/items to the front desk.

The fitness facilities are some distance into the complex, and not sufficient to service the number of resorts whose guests use it -> too small and busy, plus the equipment isn't what you'd expect given the rest of the complex. The Ambar (sister resort in the same complex) has an exclusive gym for their guests only, so if you like to workout and are going "adult only" the Ambar would be a better choice. Our friends stayed at the Ambar, and we felt this would have been a better choice for us over the Esmeralda.

The friendliness of the staff was very inconsistent. Some were wonderful, others were downright rude - like the guy sitting at the Club House exchanging beach towels. After watching and experiencing his attitude over a few days, we nicknamed him "the towel nazi". Some of the front desk staff ignored guests until they were prompted either by the guests or their managers - not a good impression and definitely not 5-star treatment. I truly came away with the overall feeling that "they just don't care". Kind of sad.

The maids and groundskeepers were always welcoming, and greeted people with a happy "Ola". The pool bartenders were great, as well; and they definitely know how to make a good Cuba Libre!

There's the good and the not so good. All in all, it was wonderful to be on the Punta Cana beach again, and it's pretty hard to complain when you're privileged to have a vacation on a warm, sunny, beautiful beach!

If you're good with crowds you'll love the place. We'll definitely be back to Punta Cana. For us, we'll try a smaller resort the next time round.

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank OttawaHappyTraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 March 2012

We were at the Esmeralda Mar 22-29 and this was our first trip to DR and to a Gran Bahia resort. We had originally picked Esmeralda based upon the high score on TripAdvisor. Even though we didn't travel with children we picked Esmeralda over Amber due to it being newer and the layout which has the pool, beach, buffet and restaurants steps from your room unlike most of the other resorts.

Let me first say that the Esmeralda exceeded our expectations. We both had some concerns about our trip since we had never been to the DR before and some of the comments on TA had us worried about the staff, bugs, food, beach chairs, cleanliness, trouble with check-in etc.... I would like to say that my wife and I really couldn't find anything to complain about. Sure there are some things that were better than others. However, here are some things that we were pleasantly surprised with:
1) size and cleanliness of the rooms - in most hotels in the states there is maid service once a day but we had 2-3 visits per day restocking fridge and bringing towels; plus the bathrooms are VERY nice. Much nicer than expected.
2) no bugs and breeze - I would attribute this to the location of the resort since it is more on the Atlantic side and not Caribbean so that there is more of a breeze. Only think I had one bite the whole trip so we didn't need the bug spray
3) food, water and ice - no worries there - didn't get sick (of course don't drink from tap) but no issues with water served at table or ice in drinks - so the Imodium and Cipro will just travel again with me next year. BTW....if you eat pineapple at every meal and drink coco locos non stop....it ain't the water making you sick
4) the beauty of the grounds - first off we went into a couple other resorts while dropping off other guests (RIU and Iberostar). Hands down I would say that Gran Bahia is better maintained than those others. Sure there may be higher priced areas but overall I was less impressed with their grounds than I was with GBP. BTW, both of those hotels had some real huge swampy areas right near the hotels that aren't at the GBP. Finally, I was amazed with the number of maintenance people doing work around the clock at this resort - always painting, trimming, cutting and cleaning.
5) never encountered rude staff - we had no problems checking in and out. The running joke all week was "where is the rude staff?"

here are some other thoughts about this hotel. Is this a 5 star hotel? Well, I would say it is not a Ritz Carlton but I would rather stay in these rooms than just about any Hilton or Sheraton I have ever been to. We were in bldg 90 but didn't get the pool view. Our room faced away onto what some have called a "service road". That would imply an alley to me - first off the path is like a polished flagstone not a road and there is no traffic on that road but luggage carts and the occasional lawn maintenance buggy - very, very quiet. On the other side of the service "path" there is a row of trees and there is a tram path where you can catch a tram to the front lobby. Just be glad you picked Esmeralda since you are right by the ocean and you aren't staying so far from the beach.

We would rank El Olivo and the Esmeralda Steakhouse as our favorites, Don Pablo was just alright on the night we went but others raved to us about it. We thought the Mexican and BBQ restaurant were good. We were disappointed in Bella Italia (the pizzas weren't good and there were some parents in there letting kids run wild - one advantage to choosing Ambar restaurants). Finally we went to Maiko which was decent since they give you lots of meat but was very different from the steakhouses in the states (very little fried rice and no sauces other than soy). However, they do have fried ice cream which was a treat.

Make sure you bring lots of sunscreen - the cheapest sunscreen is like $21 in the gift shops. The t shirt and souvenir prices are higher than what you expect in a foreign country but still lots of good stuff to find . There are lots of places to shop on site without ever leaving GBP. There is even an open air market if you like to be hounded by sellers but if you stay in the shop areas they cant approach you.

We did have one issue the first morning. I put out our towels on 2 chairs after 8 am. The towels were moved or something happened since the chairs were taken by others when we came out after 9 am. Hey, no problem, I would rather go to the beach.... Personally, I prefer the beach for the breeze and sound of the ocean over the pool sounds. I never had an issue finding a beach lounger at any time. We would normally start at the beach and later in the afternoon adjourn to the adult pool - very quiet and it has 6 cabana tents that usually aren't full. Plenty of loungers are available there. I hope this was helpful and I am looking forward to returning to GBP Esmeralda next year.

Room Tip: ask for building 90 or 91 and ask for poolside.
  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
12  Thank Simonettisays
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Luxury Bahia Principe Esmeralda Don Pablo Collection

Address: Crta. Arena Gorda - Macao, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > La Altagracia Province > Punta Cana
Amenities:
Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#4 Romantic Hotel in Punta Cana
#7 Family Hotel in Punta Cana
#33 Spa Hotel in Punta Cana
#33 Top resorts Hotel in Punta Cana
#35 Luxury Hotel in Punta Cana
Price Range: $201 - $634 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Luxury Bahia Principe Esmeralda Don Pablo Collection 4*
Number of rooms: 570
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Facilities and services 2 Pools Sun terrace 4 Jacuzzis Sun umbrellas and loungers Beach and pool towel service BAHIA SPA (additional charge) Sports facilities: gym, 3 tennis courts, 1 padel tennis court (additional charge), multi-sports court Water activity centre Motorised water sports (additional charge) WiFi access in the lobby (free) and in rooms (free of charge) Entertainment amphitheatre 2 buffet restaurants 3 speciality restaurants 3 Bars 1 Snack- bar Wedding gazebo Punta Blanca Golf Club: 18 hole Punta Blanca Golf Club, designed by Nick Price (additional charge) Pueblo Principe: Shopping and Leisure Mall with local craft stores, live music, shows, stores, bars, karaoke, disco and casino. Rooms, 570 Deluxe Junior Suite Room facilities: King size bed or two full size beds Air conditioning Ceiling fan Sitting area with sofa Terrace Fully-equipped bathroom with hydromassage bath tub and separate shower, hair dryer and magnifying mirror Bathrobe and slippers VIP amenities Radio-alarm clock Flat screen satellite TV Coffee-making facilities Ironing set Pillow menu Umbrella 24 hour room service Minibar WiFi (free of charge) Other services Medical service (additional charge) Pharmacy (additional charge) Specialised service for organising weddings, incentive trips, events and anniversaries Personalised menus (for celiacs, diabetics, etc.) Available on request ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Gran Bahia Principe Esmeralda Hotel Punta Cana

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