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!!!
- 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