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“Better than expected”

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Luxury Bahia Principe Esmeralda Don Pablo Collection
Ranked #37 of 112 Hotels in Punta Cana
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 31 May 2012

We just returned from celebrating our anniversary in the GBP Esmeralda, from May 19 to May 26, and we had a wonderful time. I would first like to thank Brooklin and the other experts on this forum for their very helpful advice and information. As suggested, we emailed our room requests (five rooms as close together as possible, etc.) ten days prior to our arrival and we received all five rooms clustered together on the third floor of the beach end of Building 90 (the best seats in the house). We also emailed our ala carte requests for ten of us to dine together and we received all of the dates and times requested. I just emailed our appreciation for both the rooms and the restaurant reservations to the appropriate staff at the Esmeralda and received kind responses from each.

While most of the recent reviews have been very positive, I had been slightly concerned about some of the previous comments. First, we found the staff to be extremely gracious and helpful, with no indications of poor or less-than-average service. All of our rooms were made up before noon each day, each had fresh towels and turn down service each evening, and each of the mini-bars were restocked daily. The wait staff in all of the restaurants, buffett and ala carte, provided very attentive service and many recognized us by name from the first day on. But, I think that friendly is as friendly does in that a greeting from us always brought a friendly response from the staff members.

Second, the guest rooms, the lobby, the bars, restaurants and all of the public spaces were spotless, with no indications of deferred maintenance (a term that we appraisers use) obvious anywhere. The pools were crystal clear at all times and provided an excellent place to spend the day or to gather for happy hour after a day at the beach. And I have read some complaints that the private Esmeralda beach was not directly on the ocean. Like some of the other members of our family group, walking the extra 15 or 20 steps to the water's edge was not nearly enough exercise to compensate for all of the food (and drink) that we had been consuming on a day to day basis.

Third, we found no evidence of bugs in or around the complex, nor did we notice ANY unpleasant odors or mildew smells. We have stayed at a number of other AI properties in the DR and elsewhere and this is the first time that we didn't use the room fresheners we brought with us.

Fourth, the food in all of the facilities was at a par with, or better than, any other AI resort we have visited. Of course, it is not at a par with some of the higher end restaurants in the US or Europe, but for properties turning out that amount of food, we were not disappointed. Nor were we paying the kind of prices that these other food outlets required.

Fifth, the staff speaks Spanish so adapt. Alternatively, download one of the translation apps to your i-phone and try to function.

It has been noted in the past that almost all of my reviews are four or five stars. Well, we try to pick places, with the help of our friends here on TripAdvisor, that will likely result in positive reactions. In addition, we try to have a positive attitude and have always found reciprocation.

I don't really have any negative factors to report, but there are a couple of less positive reactions. One is that the wifi is not available in all rooms. We were able to access it from our balcony overlooking the main pool, but the service in the lobby appeared to be somewhat faster. Second, while the third floor rooms were very quiet and well located, an elevator would have been welcome for my almost 70 year old legs. However, we were aware of both of these factors before we chose the GBPE, so we have no complaints.

Finally, a couple of hints. As has been suggested on this forum over and over again, email the resort in advance with room and restaurant requests. Second, the bellman can be your best friend. A simple request to the bellman can take you directly from the Esmeralda to the Ambar by cart without having to use the tram, although the trams are certainly convenient. Third, always tip the maid and the wait staff. They work very hard and are certainly worth a few dollars. This applies to the waiters in the dining and bar areas. And fourth, bubba mugs are the greatest invention since sliced bread.

  • Stayed: May 2012, travelled with family
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14  Thank Michael C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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3,674 - 3,678 of 6,923 reviews

Reviewed 31 May 2012

My wife and I stayed at the Ambar (Adult only, same resort and excellent) the same time last year and we joined the Bahia Principe Privilege Club (BPPC) and this was our 1st trip going it alone, we have always used a Tour operator prior to this. With a couple of emails and on-line flight to Punta Cana the holiday was booked. I am disabled with walking disabilities but not wheel chair bound and have other medical problems.

We arrived at Punta Cana at 4.30pm, after a 9hr flight, and we were immediately greeted by Victoria from the BPPC. During the private journey to the resort we were told all the details required about the hotel and concierge service. No need to check in so straight to our room which was just perfect, so bright and airy compared to the darker style of the Ambar.

What can I say? our 2 weeks were fantastic. We ate in every resturant and found the food and service to be excellent in all aspects. With the BPPC you have full use of a private buggy service which was perfect for me and my medical problems and the size of the resort is huge. All our reservations were made by BPPC staff ( we had 7 days of reservations pre planned by staff on arrival) all over the resort and if not for the buggy I could not have gone to a lot of them.

Our room was spotless every day and decorated with balloons (wife's birthday) and returning to our room one night found flower petals from doorway into bathroom and a bubble filled spa bath, and to top it off a bottle of champaign on Ice. So romantic even for a couple who have been married for 39 years.

Would I recommend the hotel ........... yes, and I will be returning in May 2014 with my son and daughter and partners, off to Cayo Levantardo next year and already booked.

All the staff were excellent and could not do enough for us, how they remain smiling for 14hrs day in day out baffles me.

A massive thank you to Isadora and all her staff (especially Victoria/Lisa/Jean) at the BPPC who made our holiday special.

  • Stayed: May 2012, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank Derek P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 May 2012

This was the 2nd time I stayed a Bahia resort and it was a great vacation! I usually have a difficult time finding food I enjoy while away and this resort blew me away with selection and quality of food! I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of my vacation at this resort and will definitely return. I would recommend this resort to anyone traveling to Punta Cana.

  • Stayed: May 2012, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank Kris_LaLa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 May 2012

My husband & I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary at Esmeralda (May20-27, 2012). We had a wonderful time. We emailed a room & a la carte restaurants request 10 days prior to our arrival and received reply immediately. Upon arrival, we were given room #90211, which in my opinion, the best room on the resort. We were on the top floor facing both pool and ocean. We have travelled to a few places in Caribbean, and the best place we stayed so far was Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso. Unfortunately the experience at Esmeralda did not surpass IGP, but it was well worth the money we paid for. We were never bothered by timeshare sales people. Never had to fight for Pool/Beach benches. Truly loved Dan Pablo-excellent service and high quality food. Garden Grill was really good. A little disappointed with Bella Italia and El Olivo. Buffet was great. Friendly staff. Adult only Jacuzzi is a must. We highly recommend this hotel!

  • Stayed: May 2012, travelled as a couple
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10  Thank fwincanada
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 May 2012

This was our 6th trip to Dom Rep, stayed at GBP San Juan, Casa del Mar (now Dreams La Romana), GBP Bavaro, GBP Ambar, Catalonia Bavaro. The Esmeralda was the best of all of these. How anyone can complain about the food, rooms etc. etc?? You must remember this is 5* by their standard. It annoys me when people moan on here and try and compare it to lets say the Iberostar Grand. A holiday there is over twice as much money, so yes it damn well should be good! Anyway, pet hate done with.

We stayed from 7th - 21st May and had a great time. For the first time for us there were lots of Brits, and we made lots of new friends. Our room was lovely, a slight smell but nothing too offensive so we stayed put - bring a smelly candle or air freshener if you are concerned about it. The room numbers were in this order if you want to request a specific room - villa number i.e.90 then rooms from the beach inwards were, 90010 - 90020 pool facing ground floor / 90110 - 90120 pool facing 1st floor / 90210 - 90220 pool facing 2nd floor. Rooms facing the service road were 90001 - 90009 etc. Hope that helps! We were in room 90016 middle of villa 90, ground floor.

The room was cleaned very well each day, and we had clean towels and chocolates in the evening. The mini bar was filled with 3 miniatures of vodka/bacardi/dewars (1 each), 2 cans of beer, bottles of pepsi, diet pepsi, red rock (like fanta), tonic water, 7 up, water and some lays crisps (same as Walkers) every day! Stick a note in there with requests and they will usually put in whatever you ask for. We had face cloths every day, and plenty of towels. You can request various pillows daily, just call express service and request. We liked the feather with camomile best. We also had room service a few times. The club sandwich is delicious and arrived quickly each time.

The food was mostly fantastic. Go to Don Pablo and request the Chatteaubriand, it's delicious, we had it 4 times! The steak at Bella Italia is one of the nicest fillets I've had, just a shame it comes with risotto which is more like rice pudding. The steakhouse was a bit disappointing, as was the El Pescador, no good steak in either. It seems that if you stick to the Esmeralda or Ambar restaurants, you get much better steaks/food in general. The buffet was very good, but we really weren't that impressed with the Gala night, just our opinion. All in all the food is to a very high standard.

The reception staff are lovely, very accomodating and very friendly. Most staff were very attentive, very happy and couldn't seem to do enough for you. Try and speak a little bit of Spanish, and they really appreciate it. You don't need to learn the language, but a few phrases can go a long way. We didn't really have a problem with communicating, most speak very good English. If they do not understand you, it's easy enough to find someone who can. I think they do an amazing job speaking lots of languages and working very long hours.

The beach was very nice, not as nice as by the Catalonia, but still the light sand and turquoise sea you expect. It was not peak time when we were there, so we had no problem getting beds by the beach or pool. The beach was a bit crowded and I would imagine at peak time it would be way too crowded, but not a problem when we were there.

The drinks were nice, sometimes way too strong - but I am a bit of a wuss so prefer my drinks a bit weaker. My hubby sank a few cocktails every night, and tried lots of different ones, but I preferred the Banana Mama and strawberry daiquiri, yum!

All in all this place was a little slice of heaven. Was it perfect, no of course not, but it was excellent value for money and we would return in a heartbeat.

FYI - there is construction going on, but we did not hear a thing as it was all behind villa 94. As long as you request a room in villas 90-93, it will not affect you at all. Hope that helps!

Drop me a line if you need any info.

Room Tip: villa 90-93 to avoid the construction
  • Stayed: May 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
4  Thank MrsWoody8
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 Top resorts Hotel in Punta Cana
#33 Spa 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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