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A Look Inside the Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort

Situated on a sizeable narrow campus with five hotels the Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana is an impressive all-inclusive resort. If you upgrade to the Golden status, you will have access to its sister resort a mirror image of the Punta Cana the Grand Bahia Principe Bavaro. The Bavaro has its elite status giving access to the Punta Cana section which is called Diamond. Near the Beach to the north is the Grand Bahia Principe Ambar and to the South the Grand Bahia Principe Esmerelda to Premier Grand Bahia hotels in their Don Pablo Collection. Confused yet? I know I was.

Grounds at Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort

Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

This confusion is where the resort fails a little at the start of your vacation. There are four resorts and one north resort (which I believe is timeshare or condos not sure we never went there). Most of the guests are guests of the Punta Cana or Bavaro sections. They have access to each other’s services which are identical.

Grounds at Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort

Check Reviews: TripAdvisor | Hotels.com | Expedia | Travelocity

It takes a bit of time at the start of your vacation to realize which areas of the resort are part of Punta Cana and which are part of the Bavaro, but once you figure this out it is smooth sailing. As a Golden Club or Diamond Club guest, it does not matter as you can hang out at either side of the resort. Ambar has a gated section close to the beach, so outside guests cannot cross.

Grounds at Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort

Grand Bahai Principe Hotel Registration Hiccups

We had some confusion at the airport and check-in as to where are booking was. At the airport, they did not have us on the list, and then upon arrival, they seemed to take forever to find our reservation.  We waited in the seating area for someone to help us, and one of the ladies came over with packages and started calling out names. None were ours. Mild inside panic. Finally, she returned with our registration package and wristbands. We told her we wanted a safe and paid her $28 for the week and she took our hotel cards and programmed the safe on them. She then took us over to the buffet and told us that the room should be ready when we were done eating lunch.

After lunch, the trolly took us to our rooms. Both keys did not work. The bellman let us into our room with a master key and told us he would get new keys for us. In about 15 minutes he returned with a new round of keys, of which only one worked in the door, and the other did not. We waited again, and a new set of keys arrived. Using the room key and following the instructions on the safe we tried to program the safe so we could put our valuables in and hit the beach for the remaining hours of the afternoon. It did not work.

Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort

Reception Staff Upon Checking in and Dealing with Room Issues

We called reception, and they said we had to purchase the safe and we explained that we did this already when we checked in. They sent a technician, and he could not program the safe either. The tech asked us the same questions, and I showed him the receipt for the safe. He called reception, and another set of keys arrived. It took over 4 hours for them to sort out the keys to the room and safe for us to get the safe programmed so we could leave our rooms. We lost the first day of our vacation, as it was now after 6:00 PM and there was no point in sitting on the beach so late in the day.

Despite the hiccups – they did eventually get things right

The only other hiccup to start our vacation was that our air conditioner conked out the first night making a terrible sound. We both woke up at 5:00 AM and called the Service desk to wake up some poor soul. We decided to go to the beach and watched the most amazing sunrise.

Before breakfast, we went to reception, and they were happy to help us out, told us they would send someone to fix it ASAP this was around 7:30 AM. We had breakfast and went back to the beach. Around 9:30 I went into the room for something, and the air conditioning unit was purring quietly.

Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort Map

Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana Dominican Republic Resort Map

Tips for Booking Your Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana Vacation

If you are looking to book a deal at the Grand Bahia Principe hotel, be sure to check out tripcentral.ca as they can put you in touch with agents who have been to the resort themselves and answered all your questions. I found their Trip Matchmaker feature was an excellent way to find the right hotel at the best price. Check out reviews and prices on the Grand Bahia Principe Hotel on tripcentral here.

Room Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort

The Golden Section Room

  • 2 Twin size beds (pretty comfortable compared to other places we’ve been in the Caribbean)
  • Sitting area – glass table, two chairs and a day bed.
  • Small balcony – 2 chairs and a table we had a view of the Ambar resort from our room nothing special, but we didn’t spend a lot of time sitting on the balcony.
  • Main Dresser – sits in front of the beds has a large mirror, a small television, the refrigerator is at the base on the right side and to the left were four drawers for clothes.

Check Rates: TripAdvisor | Hotels.com | Expedia | Travelocity

Our Room Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort

Great Room Service

The refrigerator was stocked daily with beer, pop and water. The housekeeper clued in quickly that we only drank the diet Pepsi and water, so she just restocked those. There was a coffee maker on a dresser as well. We started just taking the coffee pouches and putting in our luggage and were pleasantly surprised that she gave us two new bags of coffee each day.

Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort

  • Large Closet – two main areas one for hanging clothes (usual minimal hangers available) and one with the safe and some more shelves for clothes. Between two of us, we had more than enough room for our clothes.
  • Bathroom included a shower/tub (it was a dated jacuzzi style – we did not start it up). One sink. Towels replaced daily. We received face clothes on three days of the week and the rest of the time just regular towels. However, we also had turn-down service a couple of the nights where they refreshed our towels. Turn-Down service was not every night we didn’t care really.

Room Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort

Overall comments about the rooms – they were spotless and often decorated with towel art and flowers. The rooms were very dark at night, even with all the lights turned on. We had no issues with hot water in the shower; the shower head was, however, old, and there was not much water stream or pressure.

Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort

Our room located on the second floor of the second building from the beach was the perfect location as it next to the main trolley line and a short walk to the beach. The window in our room faced the street with one of the less used roads, and we did not hear anything while in the room.

See more reviews on the Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana on TripAdvisor.

Beach Area Pool Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort

Beach Area

Yes, as mentioned in TripAdvisor reviews, the beach area is narrower than the beaches of the neighbouring resorts like the Majestic and RIU. Personally, I preferred it. We were sitting under a hut very close to the water, and we liked that. The rumours of reserving chairs early at the resort are true. Particularly on the weekend when the resort appeared to be at capacity. Many of the chairs were broken so be sure to check yours before you put the towel on it.

Beach Chairs Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort -120

Packing for this trip, you may want to bring an insulated mug with you:

Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort

Seaweed on the Beach is a Minor Issue

One note, the beach is on the Atlantic Ocean, I’m not sure if this affects it all year round, but we noticed it was very breezy and the water was rough. There is also seaweed in the water, and all along the beach, it varies where each day. The current is high, and the waves bring in batches of seaweed each day.

Beach Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort

RIU and Majestic’s beaches also had areas with it. There is a tractor that goes by each morning with staff raking up the seaweed and putting into the truck but more just comes in. It is slightly icky at first when you go in, but once you are into the water, you pass the seaweed and are in the clear blue water.

The Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana is a popular all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic. Its sprawling grounds with beautiful pools, and vast beach area make it the perfect spot for a beach vacation. | #PuntaCana #DominicanRepublic #Resort #Hotel #Caribbean #BeachVacation #Beach |

Overall Service was Fantastic!

I don’t understand how anyone can complain about service at this resort. It didn’t matter where we went, buffet, lobby bar even the trolley/tram drivers were smiling and happy to see us. We got coffee almost the instant we sat down. It didn’t matter if we tipped or not always smiles and glad to help. I was very impressed, and except for one waiter in the Mediterranean restaurant, I thought everyone was awesome!

Pool Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort

Photographers on site

The hotel has several photographers going around the resort with a monkey, snake, parrots or an iguana. They put the animals on the tourists and then take a picture. They also walked around with two models dressed as Dominican Natives who were fun and flirty with the tourists. It is a beautiful touch. Just a note about the photographers which in the Dominican which they call the paparazzi. Excursions also have photographers taking pictures and video of your experiences you will be asked everywhere even when you exit the Dominican Republic at the airport to check out the photos, but it is your option to buy or not to buy.

Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort


Excursions from the Resort

We took two excursions during our vacation for more information visit these posts:

Bar Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort

Bars

I had a rough time finding a drink that wasn’t super sweet or too strong. Especially at the beach bars. At one point I filled up my insulated cup with diet Pepsi and just told them to put a little rum. That was the only way I could handle it. I found the lobby bar was more professional and made drinks well. Every night there was a special drink served at a bar, and my favourite was Coco Loco night where the beverage came in coconuts.

See more reviews on the Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana on TripAdvisor.

Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort

Entertainment

Shows in Theatre

These ran at 9:00 and 10:15 nightly there were a variety of shows very professionally run, with professional dancers and performers. The Michael Jackson show was a real treat as was the circus night. The theatre fills up rather quickly, so I suggest you hit it early to get a good seat.

Lobby Bar also had nightly entertainment – some nights it was loud and echoed through the open area. There are two more bars located in the Pablo Principe shopping mall, but we did not hang out there, mostly younger crowd. The shopping mall also had an open theatre, and they had some local bands playing there when we went which were also a nice change.

Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort

Shopping

The Pueblo Principe Shops

This a small outdoor shopping mall located in the front of the resort just a 1-minute walk from either the Punta Cana or Bavaro lobbies. It is set up in a square, with small boutique like shops, there is not much bartering in the stores although their prices were quite reasonable and we found them to be better than the vendors on the beach or the vendors in the mall. Note a lot of the vendors were selling their “silver” larimar jewellery, but they were not silver. Buyer beware.

The Lobby Shops

There is one lobby store in Punta Cana side and one in the Bavaro side; they are very similar, and I found they had the best prices all around. I bought coffee and a mask in the lobby shop cheaper than anywhere else. The coffee in the hotel lobby stores was also less expensive than at the airport Duty-free, so I was glad I bought it there. These shops have snacks, rum, coffee, souvenirs, some clothing and travel necessities, like sunscreen, feminine hygiene products, toothpaste, etc.

Hotel Merchant Night

There was one night where the merchant vendors were on the hotel site in front of the theatre. I bought a painting for $60. I’m not upset about it because I was not able to find another one like it, but there were similar paintings in the shopping mall for $50, and at the Airport Duty-Free, there were also pictures available for $35-$50. Again the best prices are in the Hotel Lobby shops and the actual shops in the shopping mall. I feel like the vendors ripped us off. If you are going to bargain with them be sure you know what the items are worth in the shops before you play.

Airport Duty-Free

Stores included Perfume, alcohol, jewellery, paintings, Dominican souvenirs, snacks and cosmetics. There were lots of shops selling the tourist drink Mamajuana as well, again buyer beware on these, for more information on it see our post Mamajuana: Dominican Viagara or Tourist scam. Since we had a 4-hour wait for the plane at the airport (more on this later), it was nice to have a lot of stores to browse through to kill some time. The Airport also had a small food court which included Wendy’s, Baskin&Robbins and a bunch of other options.

Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort

Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort Restaurants

By far my favourite restaurant in the resort was the most casual and most convenient. The Olas Beach B.B.Q. Located right on the beach the restaurant is split into two sides which mirror each other. They are both the same, and for some reason, everyone seemed to gather more at the Punta Cana side of the restaurant, while we tended to go to the area facing the Ambar which was the same and less crowded. Each of these has its bar as well as Pepsi machine, bartenders and water. They also have a breakfast buffet from 8:00 AM – 10:00 Am and a lunch buffet follow. I believe this place is open at night as well if you are looking for snacks although we were not late night eaters.

Mikado Japanese Restaurant or Maiko Japanese Restaurant – A la Carte

The Mikado resides on the Punta Cana side of the resort, and the Maiko is part of the Bavaro. Since most a la carte is available to all guests of either resort, the duplication seems somewhat unnecessary to me. We went to the Mikado which has 4 Tepanyaki stations that seat 10-12 people. The seating at the station is about an hour, and then you are moved into the central dining area for dessert. The menu is pretty set; each station has a Tepanyaki chef and server. You start with some sushi while the chef started cooking. For dessert, I had the fried ice cream. Overall the meal was ok. The food was a bit salty and lacked flavour. The Saki was bitter and horrible; we couldn’t drink it.

Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana Resort

Il Capriccio Italian Restaurant – A la Carte

We had a lovely night at this restaurant, but it was mediocre at best. There is an appetizer buffet which was very good and included prosciutto, bread with various types of olive oils. The service at the restaurant was excellent, and there was right timing between meals. My friend had the seafood spaghetti, which was a light tomato sauce with lots of shrimp and calamari. I had the Pasta Bolognese which was a meat pasta fettuccine. Nothing to write home about in my opinion. The desserts were buffet style; I had a slice of Opera cake and fruit profiteroles.

Le Gourmet French Restaurant – A la Carte

There was a service survey going on in the restaurant. This usually means extra special treatment by the staff. We found the menu was hard to understand. They were trying too hard to present a fancy meal with fancy names that didn’t translate well in English.

I ordered the Salmon and Shrimp appetizer which was a cylinder of salmon, fruit, tomatoes, pineapple and shrimp it was lovely. One thing I loved about this restaurant was the pace between courses. Things seemed to flow very smoothly. For a main I had the lamb medallions which was tasty, my friend had the lobster pieces in a cream sauce. For dessert, she ordered the cheesecake which she said was nothing special and I ordered a Marble cylinder and got a fantastic white chocolate cylinder filled with an almond/chocolate mouse with chocolate pieces sticking out.

El Pescador Mediterranean Restaurant – A la Carte

It looks like from the decor this used to be a seafood restaurant, lots of blue, fish and shells decorating the restaurant. There is a buffet appetizer section, one main dish and then deserts at the buffet. The service here was horrible. The head waiter did not even want to talk to us (maybe because we were two women at the table with no man?) we couldn’t figure it out. The buffet items were cold; the lobster casserole was a fishy stew, and the desserts were not extraordinary. We ended up leaving the restaurant very disappointed and quite irritated by the head waiter.

The Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana is a popular all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic. Its sprawling grounds with beautiful pools, and vast beach area make it the perfect spot for a beach vacation. | #PuntaCana #DominicanRepublic #Resort #Hotel #Caribbean #BeachVacation #Beach |

See more reviews on the Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana on TripAdvisor.

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29 COMMENTS

  1. Last time I was in the Dominican was when we went to the Iberostar Dominicana is 2010 (it is about 5 resorts to the east of the Bahia Principe). This April my wife and I are heading to the Luxury Bahia Principe Esmeralda with Air Transat. I am looking forward to the newly refurbished planes as well I heard that they have re-done the airport in Punta Cana. Suprisingly Air Transat has the Esmeralda Jr. Suite on for the same price as the Jr. Suite in the Punta Cana – about 33% cheaper than Air Canada and WestJet at the moment.

    After reading the reviews and talking with some friends that have been there I am certainly looking forward to it and will try to remember to report back (will definitely be making a Trip Advisor review when I get back).

  2. You are miserable eh? How can anyone have so many issues on a trip. I stopped reading halfway down. BRUTAL review of a great resort.

    • Sorry you feel that way, I’m actually not miserable at all. This was a truthful account of our experience. As a writer I pride myself on telling the story truthfully rather than sugar coating an experience to make a hotel happy. I’m glad you had a wonderful experience at this resort.

  3. Hi Sharon,
    Is the water park close to the Esmeralda section? do you think Esmeralda is a convenient section and if there is air conditioning in the buffet restaurants too as we have a senior coming with us and she is afraid of the heat. Thank you.
    Michelle

    • With regards to air conditioning all the buildings and common areas had air conditioning. This resort was rather large – lots of walking or waiting for the trolly. If you have a senior travelling with you – you may want to consider a smaller resort.

  4. Just got back from a 10 day stay at the Grand Bahia Resort in Punta Cana. Everyone was so friendly, always smiling. Food was good, some places better than others. The main dining had so much variety we could not come close to sampling everything. Omelets to order, excellent service, Leon, I am assuming Manager, made everyone feel special. Room was very clean, close to pool (villa # 1). I recommend Golden Club. Quick, private check in with drinks provided and in an air conditioned office with a desk and chairs. Got to pick room, got extra trips to specialty restaurants although the main dining was very exceptional. We had a carefree trip and only recommendation would be to increase Wi-Fi time. Other than that, we would not change a thing. I forgot to pick up a navy blue Principe T-shirt with the logo in blue on it. If anyone can tell me how I could order one, that would be terrific, I really liked it (size XL). Been to the sites, but it was in a gift shop. Approximately $35.00. Thanks.
    Again, great trip, a lot of value for the dollars. Side trips to Sanoma Island, speed boats and cat were fun. Another trip to Santa Domingo. Had a great time on both. Bottom line, everyone so friendly and helpful. The staff made it a really carefree vacation.

      • Hi Sharon, we are going to stay at the Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar could you tell me if it is 24hr all inclusive ? never been to this area before, usually we use the RIU chain. Thanks Sean

        • Hi Sean,
          I can not remember if the Ambar is all-inclusive. I believe they offer packages that either include everything or not. Best to check with a travel agent or the hotel itself on which package you are buying.

  5. Excellent review Sharon! I’m heading to the Ambar in June. Me and my girlfriend are both in our mid-20’s, and we really enjoy the entertainment crew and pool activities at the resorts we visit. However, from what we’ve read the Ambar is very “quiet” when it comes to these things. We have no problem trekking to the other resorts for this. Where do all the pool activities happen? Is it at the main pool near the beach?

    • Yes Dan, the large pool by the Beach was where all the entertainment crew hangs out. They did try to come down to the Beach as well, but most of the fun activities were at the pool. I hope you have a great stay.

      • We are travelling thre as a group of 13, 6 adutls and 7 kids from 15-23… Do they accommodate for such a big group?

        • Hi Sil I don’t work for the hotel or have any association with them, I was just a paying customer myself, best to ask a travel agent or contact the hotel directly to get answers to your question. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. thanks for the info. heading to the “Esmerelda” in August. where would you suggest to eat if there’s a seafood allergy? also did you do any spa days or parasalling? if so what/how much was that experience?

    • Hi Mike, no we did not do any parasailing on our trip, also did not visit a spa, although there was an excursion available to a Spa Cruise wish offered, Yoga, massages on the deck and other spa services. As far as Seafood allergies, I can’t comment either. It is very difficult to find a restaurant that doesn’t handle seafood at all in any country, but as someone that doesn’t eat gluten, I found that the places we went to did not understand the allergy at all. It is a challenge for sure travelling with any food intolerance and allergy. Best of luck, let me know if you do find something!

  7. I’m going to the Esmeralda on Feb. 22 . I have pretty high expectations when I travel . I pick my resorts carefully . This wasn’t my choice, but the two friends I’m travelling with wanted to stay here. I prefer smaller properties . The Royal Hideaway in Playa Del Carmen, or the Catalonia Playa Maroma is my second choice in Riveria Maya. The food , wine,service, and accommodations at the Royal Hideaway is fantastic . Every restaurant was an absolute delight, I’m admittedly tough to impress, and this place did. I prefer Barbados overall , it’s like my second home. Feel free to ask about the Esmeralda , we live there on March 2 , trying to decide where to go next.

    Happy travels

  8. Great review. I think we walked by this resort a few times. We stayed at the Majestic Elegance 2 year ago. The beaches in Punta Cana are some of the best in the Caribbean!

    It’s funny, someone else mentioned the Grand Bahia Principe in Tulum, we were recently in Riviera Maya, Mexico and did an excursion very close to the entrance to that resort. It was called Jungle Place and it is a monkey sanctuary where you actually go into their habitat and they interact with you. One of the best excursions ever. Definitely recommend that area of Mexico!

    Thanks for the post.

    • Hi Luc, Thanks for stopping by. We were not allowed to visit the grounds of the Esmeralda. It is a very high end luxury resort and it looked beautiful from the outside looking in. It is very highly reviewed and recommended are you visiting there? I would love to hear about your experience!

  9. Thanks for the review. Lots of good information. You could probably cut and paste this into a review of the Gran Bahia Principe Telum in Mexico. We love the low buildings that fit into the landscape and the casual atmosphere.

  10. Wow! That’s quite a comprehensive review, Sharon! We stayed at this resort 4 years ago and loved it. My only complaint about the DR is that they don’t seem to have as strong a local culture as many other islands. Perhaps it’s b/c most of the people working at the resort are Haitians and not native DR’s.

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