Wednesday 21 February 2024

Bahia Principe Grand Punta Cana, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Two friends and I spent the last week at the Bahia Principe Grand Punta Cana in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. It's a large property (it's a couple resorts in one) that was overwhelming at first but I was fine by the second day once I figured it out. We were lucky in that we had great weather the entire week ... the only day it rained was when we were at the airport heading home.

We each had our own room. Our "key" was our wristband. There are renovated and unrenovated rooms in the villas and ours were unrenovated, which was fine with me because it meant I had a big tub (the tubs have been replaced with walk-in showers in the renovated rooms) ... and I love baths and had one every day! The mini fridge was stocked daily with water, pop and a couple cans of beer. The TV reception was poor (really fuzzy), there were only three English channels and my remote didn't work. I rarely turn my TV on when I'm on vacation so for me it wasn't a big deal.

Our villa was close to three pools and the beach. The beach is small but nice. Every day was a "yellow flag" day. The water was amazing ... warm and not too wavy (fun wavy!). You have to get up early to reserve your beach and/or pool lounger(s) with a towel, etc. as they went fast. We didn't agree with this policy but it's the way it is. Thankfully my friends were early risers (I'm not) and reserved loungers for us. 

There was a constant barrage of people trying to sell you something ... jewellery, tours, posing with a monkey, lizard or parrots, hats, cigars, sunglasses, etc. A polite "no thank" let them know we weren't interested.

We were about a ten minute walk from the lobby, which is where the buffet restaurants are for breakfast, lunch and supper, plus the theatre, nightly entertainment, etc. If you didn't want to walk, there were carts that came by every ten minutes or so.

There was a show every night at 9pm ... dancing, magic, circus, etc. Some were good, some were lame. After the show, depending on which patio off the lobby you went to, there was Spanish entertainers, karaoke and linedancing, which was fun. They ended around 11pm.

On the other side of the lobby there was a "plaza" that had shops, a sports/karaoke bar, casino and disco. The disco opens at 11:30pm until 2am. I went a couple times and it was fun ... loud dance music and people dancing. I went to the sports bar once (before the disco) and there were a couple TVs showing sports, a pool table and karaoke. I'm not a gambler but did peek in the casino (it opens at 3pm) ... my friends like playing slot machines (alas, they lost their $$).

There were three pools by the beach and they were always jammed. That's where the action was during the day ... water aerobics, dance classes, contests, etc. One had a swim-up bar. I was surprised at how deep the water was to get to the swim-up bar ... it was over my head!

There were two pools in the middle of the resort, across from each other and both had swim-up bars. This one was quieter.

This one was livelier with music, dancing and spinning/cycling in the pool the afternoon I was there.

We had lunch every day at the beach buffet restaurant. We would grab a table overlooking the ocean and the breeze was nice.

We had most of our suppers at the big buffet restaurants in the lobby. I'm a bit of a fussy eater and there was always lots of variety ... I never went hungry! I rarely eat desserts but I had some with every meal. Yum! Every week you can go to three à la carte restaurants but it's hard to get reservations. We went to the teppanyaki restaurant and Brazilian restaurant. Both were good.

There were lots of mosquitoes and everyone had red bites, especially on their legs, some worse than others.

WIFI was free and was supposed to be throughout the resort. I found it to be spotty depending on where I was. It wasn't too bad in the lobby area on my iPhone. I couldn't get it on my iPhone in my room, though, so would have to hang my hand out over the balcony to get access. On my second day, I received a welcome email from the resort giving me an access code to WIFI and offering the ability to pay and have faster WIFI. I went with the free WIFI and inputted the code and could get it on my laptop most of the time. Access from the email didn't work when I tried on my iPhone or iPad (I was never able to get WIFI on my iPad). Surprisingly WIFI was strong on the beach, probably because we were near the "privileged" section. No WIFI at all when I was in the middle of the resort.

Some of the staff were really friendly and helpful ... others not at all and didn't acknowledge our existence. Sometimes behind the bar staff were too busy laughing and joking with each other. Having $$ in your hand got you better service before those who didn't. Understandable, I know, but not right since it's an all-inclusive resort.

There was lots to do ... dance lessons at 5pm, water aerobics at noon, contests in the pool, foam pool party (they need a bigger more powerful foam machine), linedancing and karaoke at night after the shows, etc. There is an app where some things are listed and it could be so much better at letting people know there were things happening. There are two lobby patios and we'd have to check both out to see what was going on rather than being able to see on the app.

Bars start opening at 10am. The pool bars close around 5pm. The lobby bar closes at 11:30pm. If you want to continue to drink, you have to head to the sports bar or disco. The disco closes at 2am and the sports bar closes before that ... so no more drinking again until 10am the next morning. Not everyone wants to go to the loud disco to have one last drink. I was told that that's why the mini fridges in the rooms are stocked with two beer. Apparently you can slip the maids some $$ for some extra beer. But what if you want a glass of wine or a cocktail? Too bad unless you buy a bottle of booze at one of the stores at the resort, which defeats the purpose of staying at an all-inclusive. I tend to be a night owl and it would have been nice to have been able to have a glass of wine before heading to bed. The Truck Stop by the pools by the beach is where you can get something to eat from 11pm to 6am. They have self-serve wine and beer taps but they are shut off during that time that could be left on.

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