The Flight: Montreal to Puerta Plata on January 9th flying CanJet with Transat Vacations. We arrive at the airport at 11:50am, after doing a Park’n Fly package (www.parksleepfly.com) at the Quality Suites Montreal Airport, to find that we are 5th in line. The desk opens at 12:50 and by 1:00pm we are checked in and on our way through Security to the Departure area. Our flight is supposed to board at 3:30, but with a slight flight delay we are now departing at 4:40pm. We find our pre-booked seats, Row 16CD, & are pleasantly surprised by the excellent hip & leg-room to be had in this Emergency row. This Air-bus is an older type plane & is noisier than our previous flights but the Flight Crew was excellent, the flight uneventful & the meal ‘something else’! “Dinner” was a bagged lunch – cold meat & cheese on a bun, an apple & package of cookies…tea, coffee & pop are available for no charge, but there is a cost for beer, wine & snacks. All in all our flight was pretty good – just a few pockets of turbulence – arriving arriving at Puerta Plata airport at 10:10pm
Your Arrival: Arrival: We are off the plane & into the airport quickly, with Immigration papers already filled out & in our hands, along with our Tourist Card. So once we get our picture taken with the Senoritas, we are thru Immigration in a matter of minutes & on to retrieve our luggage. As we wait for our luggage to come off the carousel, I fill out another Immigration form that has to be handed in as we leave the terminal. We find the Tour Operator booth, get our transfer bus and make sure that our luggage is loaded into the trailer & then prepare ourselves for the journey to the BPRSJ. Two resort stops & 80 minutes later, we arrive at the Bahia at 12:20am. We have been to the Bahia Principe on two occasions previously, so we knew where we were going & what to expect. But…..Check-in: Is a mess of disorganization once we hit the front desk —we are in line for over an hour. And as another 4 or 5 buses come in about the same time, there is no concise lineup area and only 5 hotel staff are behind the desk. Our holiday package was with Royal Golden Club & at midnight the Club House is not open for “exclusive check-in”, thus some very exasperated holidayers are wondering “what the heck” ! Once we got to the desk & had our staff member ‘stay on course’, our check-in time was only about 10minutes. At 1:30am, we’ve got our room key and make the decision to walk our cases to the room ourselves….Section E, Bldg 2, 2nd floor, room 7…E-2207….a 2 minute walk from the main restaurant & one path behind the sports hut & the Golden pool.
Rooms: Our Room: I had sent a request to Guest Services about 7days prior to our arrival, for a room on the second floor, with possible ocean view & a King-size bed with a good mattress due to a back problem. Our request was met on all fronts & to welcome us we found a beautiful towel art sculpture of a wishing well in the center of our bed, a plate of fresh fruit & bottle of rum to entice our senses, towel art & flowers in the bathroom and bathrobes & slippers in the closet. The mini-bar has 2 (Brahma) beer, 1 sprite, 1 orange, 1 coke & 1 coke-lite, along with a jug of water. The credenza holds the television & coffee making station, plus has 4 drawers for storage; 2 bedside tables each with a storage drawer & a lamp, plus a clock-radio flank the King-size bed. The closet is spacious & could use a few more hangers & the storage shelves were ample. The room was showing its’ age but it was clean and everything worked. Room Safe: Price is not included in the package price & cost is $26 US per week.
Laundry Service: A very reasonable cost of $16.70 US to have 5 shirts, 2 pr of pants, & other items done for hubby. Clothes were back within 24hrs.
Restaurants and Bars:
Food: The La Brisa is the main buffet restaurant for the resort. We found the food to be plentiful & varied …my most favourite being the homemade soups & bread & the rice pudding. There was always something available for those picky eaters….burgers, fries, pasta, luncheon meat & cheeses. The Italian Restaurant is open at lunch & at dinner is one of the a la carte choices, while another a la carte choice the Tex-Mex is only open at dinnertime. These 2 restaurants we were able to eat at twice, as we could not get reservations for the Mediterranean or Seafood anytime during our 2 week stay, except if we wanted late sittings of 9:00/9:30pm…which is too late for some one who is diabetic
Beach/Pools/Grounds: The Beach: Not the soft white sand of the Caribbean or Punta Cana area & not the soft caramel sand of the Playa Dorada/Costa Dorada beaches. It is more grainy, with pieces of seashells & coral mixed in. The “ugly” breakers out in the water serve their purpose of keeping the beach from being washed away by huge waves. This was evident during our first week when winds & constant rain for 5 days, made the ocean a churning mixing bowl. During the second week, beach repair was being done & more shoring up was being done with additional sand bags. Always lots of loungers & palapas available & didn’t see much evidence of “the towel game” taking place. The Pool: Lots of loungers available around the main pool, but the area didn’t seem crowded at all. The pool in the Golden section was always busy & seemed to be a happening place!
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Excursions: There are quite a few excursions to choose from while at BPRSJ, but you also have to remember that with some of them, you are almost an hour away from their starting point. Friends, whom we met last year at Sirenis in Punta Cana, were with us at the Bahia this year. And since this was their first visit to Puerta Plata area, we did take a one-day city excursion to Puerta Plata that we put together ourselves, by using a van & driver. We stopped at the Brugal Rum Factory, the Amber & Larimar Gallery & the Palanco Restaurant for lunch. As we made our way back to the Bahia, we stopped in Sosua to show our friends “the Beach Market” & for us to get our rum on “the cheapie, cheapie”. (40 oz of Brugal Rum…$11.00 US) The cost was $100.00 US plus tip for van & driver for the day, which we split between the two couples. Lunch was $20.00
Other Comments: Internet Service: If you were in the Golden Section, 2 computers were available in the Clubhouse with a 15-minute time limit. There was also computer access in the Diamond Section if you were in that sector. For the regular guest, an Internet Café was located on Pueblo Principe (Principe Street)..the cost was $12.00 US for 60-minutes. You are given a password to access the computer and you could come back as often as you wished, to a maximum of 5 days. Once the 60-minutes or 5 days were used, then you pay again. There was no WiFi access in the Reception/Lobby area or in your room. The Weather: This was not one of the better times for excellent holiday weather. Prior to our arrival on January 9th, the area was hit with 7 days of solid rain. Our first day was excellent sunshine & then we too had 5 days of constant rain and 72F temperatures. But by the beginning of our 2nd week, the sun chose to find favor and graced us with 7 days of heat & sunshine and 82F temperatures.
Cleaning Staff/Waiters/Managers/Front Desk/Public Washrooms: Cleaning Staff: Always busy from 7:30am until well after 6:00pm. Our room was spotless everyday with some form of towel art waiting our return. We tipped our maid & mini-bar guy daily & once we knew that someone did an evening tidy-up/turn down service to the room, a tip was left for him/her also. We always had fresh towels, although wash cloths are a rarity…thus we brought our own from home. Dining Room Wait Staff: There was always someone around to fill your water & wine glass, take your empty plates away. But not really one person who looked after you…thus not many tips were given. Once in a while, we came upon an outstanding staff person & rewarded them accordingly. Bellhops/Porters: There is a tram that transports people around the resort if you happen to be too tired to walk to your room/section. But there was not a lot of assistance with your luggage from these fellows…except when it was decided that the front entry way was getting to crowded & luggage had to be put in the secure storage area…then you saw them move things around. Front Desk: Had no problems, except for our initial check-in night, with Staff. Our Concierge in the Golden Clubhouse was okay, but was of no real help when we tried unsuccessfully to get reservations in 2 of the a la cartes. Managers: There were lots of these walking the resort, but not very often would you see them stop & talk with their guests. You would think that in order to hear feed-back, they’d be anxious to stop & ask questions. There was one evening during our 2 week stay that was “survey night”, so Management & staff were out in full force —so many staff in the restaurant that they were tripping over each other!! Bar Staff/Wait Staff: Very friendly & efficient. The bars are a popular spot but as long as you are patient, your order will be filled. The “wait staff” was very busy in the Lobby & Lanai areas and most times an extra person or two could have been used just to take up the slack. But once they got to know you & what you liked to drink, most times something was waiting for you as you were sitting down.
Public Washrooms: These washrooms off the Lobby, especially the Ladies, were spotless…a cleaning staff always on hand to mop the floors & wipe down the counters. The men’s washroom, so I was told, had an issue with one of the urinals not wanting to function properly. The washroom behind the theatre was always clean too & that was a job as people coming off the beach used it. Hand sanitizer units were installed in all washrooms & were also at each entrance to the restaurants.
Departure & Flight Home: Departure & POP Checkin: Our checkout time was 12:00 noon, with transfer to the airport not happening until 5:50 pm. Our transfer was “hellish”…31 people crammed into a bus that is only supposed to hold 27 people. The driver was excellent & tried his best not to make the journey very bumpy. We were not impressed with the Tour escort who traveled with us, as he tried to have us wait on the bus until after all the luggage was removed from the trailer….just another way of allowing someone else to handle your luggage. Sorry , but that isn’t going to happen!! Checkin is very quick & we had no problems with our luggage weight or getting the seats that we had pre-booked. Security was very simple too, although everyone’s carry-on luggage was being searched. There had been a fire in the Duty Free area while we were holidaying, so there was nothing available for purchase until we got upstairs to the Departure Lounge. I was able to find a 1L bottle of Baileys for $22 US & a 1L of Canadian Club Classic for $18 US….still cheaper than LCBO here at home! Flight Home: Our plane comes in at 9:00pm & after passengers de-plane & it’s cleaned up, we are allowed to board at 9:30pm. No latecomers & we are ready for take-off at 9:50pm…15 minutes early. We land in Montreal at 1:00am & do a very quick de-plane…so quick that we are off the plane, thru customs & baggage pickup & in our overnight hotel by 2:00am. Would I fly CanJet again? Yes…we had no problems and found our flights to be comfortable.
Would we go back to the Bahia Principe again? I don’t know…would have to come across a really good deal. This was our 3rd visit to the BPRSJ for us & we found some of the pizzazz missing that was there on our previous 2 trips.