Myself (40 years old), my husband (43 years old) and our niece (15 years old) spent two lovely and relaxing weeks at the Gran Bahia Principe Bavaro Diamond Club Section from July 8-22, 2010.
When we arrived we immediately left our bags with the bellboy at the front entrance, walked 100 metres or so to the Diamond Club lounge and very quickly checked in with the incredibly professional Francy Dugarte, the Diamond Club Manager. She explained our a la carte bookings, gave us a map of the resort, and provided us with a cold welcome beverage. After signing for our electronic key we were directed back to the front area where a bell boy placed all the luggage in a tram and drove us to our villa #34 directly beside the Diamond Club pool. Alexandro carried all the bags to the third floor room and welcomed us with a smile.
Rooms: The room in the Diamond Club room was spacious and included two double beds, though king size beds are available upon request and if you aren’t travelling with a third like we were. There was also a sitting area with a table and two chairs, a television, dresser drawers, bedside table with reading lights on either side and enough closest space for everyone. My recommendation to you is to bring along extra hangers or ask your maid for additional ones upon arrival. There were only 5 hangers per closet side. The hangers you will receive upon request are wire hangers so if you have an issue with them, bring your own plastic ones. The bathroom consists of a jacuzzi tub/shower combination with marble surround as well as the sink and toilet. Don’t forget that the water is NOT DRINKABLE out of the tap at this resort and therefore you will have to brush your teeth using the bottled water provided. There are new bottles delivered to your room every day. In the room there is also a mini bar fridge that contains water, pop (pepsi, 7-Up and Orange) and two cans of Brava beer. The fridge is restocked as needed. Each evening when we returned back to the room, there was new stock free of charge. The fridge does have some extra room in the event you bring your own wine, liquor or refrigerated snacks with you on vacation.
As well, every room does have a walk out balcony with a small table and two chairs. I would suggest that you bring along clothes pegs or a clothsline if you wish to hang your bathing suits or towels to dry in the evening because there is no rack made available on the balcony and otherwise you are hanging items from the chairs or the balcony rail, neither of which are ideal. My only suggestion regarding the room to the resort is a drying rack added to the balcony, I have come across them at RIU resorts in the Dominican and Mexico.
Restaurants and Bars: When you book at the Diamond Club section you are allocated four a la carte reservations per week with your concierge. In addition, at the Diamond Club section you are provided with exclusive use of the Italian Restaurant for breakfast and lunch each day. It is only steps away from the Diamond Club pool and is a much quieter and relaxing breakfast and lunch experience. On the evenings we ate at the buffet restaurant it was just ok compared to the a la cartes but we never went hungry on those evenings and simply understood that the process of presenting food on such a large scale isn’t going to produce gourmet. Now the a la cartes are an entirely different story because they are all FABULOUS in their own unique ways! Our favourite was the Garden Grill located mid resort, with the highest quality food I have ever experienced at an all inclusive! The manager is Joselo, an incredibly friendly gentleman who will greet you with a smile and assist in making your dining experience a great one. I highly recommend you book this location as soon as you arrive. Our second favourite restaurant was the Italian Restaurant with a wide selection of main entree as well as an enormous variety of appetizers in a buffet style. I can’t say enough about the entire staff working in this restaurant from first thing in the morning when they greet you for breakfast till your evening dinner reservation. Very hard working, always with a smile and each one of them made our vacation a great one! Thank you Yulia, Jesus, Juddy, Ramon, and Rafael for your professionalism and daily smiles! Our third and final favourite that I’ll mention was the Japanese Restaurant. You have two options for eating at this restaurant, the tapanaki area where they cook the food in front of you and the table service. Don’t forget to request the tapanaki so that you aren’t disappointed. As well, just a tip, always double check your reservation slip after booking with the concierge to make sure the request is noted. We did see a family quite upset when they were seated in the table service area after believing they requested the tapanaki but unfortunately that area was completed reserved for the night and the slip was table service. The bar service was on par with the majority of other resorts in the caribbean that I have experienced over the past 15 years or so. The beer on tap was Presidente, there was champagne for mimosas and cocktails were colourful and well presented. There are blenders at the bars and I would suggest you request they be used for some drinks because the "slushi machines" don’t do them justice.
There were three bartenders who stood out as the friendliest, most professoinal and most customer service oriented during our visit. They are located at the Diamond Club pool.Thank you to Maria, Starling and Joselo!
Beach/Pools/Grounds: I can’t comment greatly on the services and fun available on the beach because I am pretty much a pool tourist but on the days I did walk down to watch my husband take out the catamarran, I found plenty of lounge chairs and a sandy ocean floor to walk on. The water is not as clear as it was during our last visit three years ago but it was quite wavy due to a storm system in the area. I did see an entertainment crew running games such as horseshoes and volleyball so it looked like there was plenty to keep you occupied on the beach. As well, there was a beach bar for guests with a slightly less assortment of drinks to choose from. The grounds are positively immaculate for such a large resort and you will always see groundskeepers out in the baking heat trying to make your day a visually appealing one. Positively no complaints with the grounds! There are an assortment of pools in this resort. There is a beach front pool divided into sections with the deepest area being to the right of the swim up bar. I was actually a bit surprised at how deep it is, a good 5 and a half feet because it came up to my shoulders so I don’t think I’d want too many little people in that area. This pool is positively CRAZY during the day with people and activities. If you are looking for relaxation, don’t sit at this one! This is the pool for those booked into the Junior Suites and not upgraded to Diamond Club. Like I’ve said before, book Diamond Club and avoid disappointment. This booking gets you four a la cartes instead of two per week along with a nicer breakfast and lunch and the exclusive use of the nicest pool on the property. Which brings me to the Diamond Club Section pool. I have taken both videos and photos of this area that speak for themselves. The links are attached to this review. It is a large free flowing pool with a swim up bar, pretty views to every side and plenty of lounge chairs. The towel service and bathroom is a 20 second walk and it is also directly on the transportation line that runs the length of the resort. A special thanks to Jose, the pool guy who kept the pool area clean and inviting during our entire stay. He greeted us each and every day with an "hola" and a smile, a very sweet man.
As noted on other reviews, this resort is very large but not daunting and very manageable with the "tram" transportation service that runs every 3-5 minutes along three seperate lines of the resort from front to beach.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: Regarding activities on and off the resort, I can’t review off the resort because I didn’t book any, yet there are a number available from the representatives who walk around the resort everyday.
On the resort you have the pools, the beach activities (non-motorized water sports-one hour free daily), the games around the pools and beach and the shopping in the resort at the front area to the left of the lobby. As well, there is a casino but I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who has won at one in the Caribbean.
Other Comments: This resort is a very solid 4.5 star and certainly a 5 star if you factor in the quality of the a la carte restaurants. The service was fantastic, the room location ideal, Diamond Club pool inviting and hotel as a whole completely lived up to our expectations and exceeded them! One last note that we found helpful when packing for our own trip. Men are allowed to wear dress shorts in the buffet restaurant, and all but one a la carte restaurant so if you wish to try the French restaurant you must wear long pants…no exceptions. I know that on the review sites the reviews for this resort differ greatly, with some loving, some hating and those that thought it just so-so. We are experienced 15 year + all inclusive travellers who have stayed at 2.5 star resorts, 4 star resorts and 6 star resorts and I can honestly tell you that we would return to the Diamond Club section, Premier section, the Ambar (adults only) or the Esmeralda section in a heart beat! I didn’t really go into the Esmeralda area review, but there is video about it on my video link. It is a smaller resort attached to the property directly on the beach but strictly for those guests who book there. It looked heavenly when we walked around it and when talking to guests they compared it to the Bahia Principe Ambar but for families. It is very tempting to stay there next time as well. You won’t go wrong booking the Gran Bahia Principe Bavaro but Diamond Club or better is a must! Please don’t hesitate to email me if you have any questions regarding this review. My email is kcponce @ hotmail.com. Cheers and happy travels!