My fiance and I checked out several resorts in the DR before deciding on the BPSJ. We stayed in Punta Cana last year at the Blau Natura Park, and had enjoyed that trip, as well. Seemed that this year, the prices for Punta Cana were higher, so we decided to give PoP a shot. Well worth it, as the price difference allowed many more people to come to our wedding – we ended up with 52 from all across Canada, from age 8 months to 60 plus. Our vacation was fantastic, and overall, we found the BPSJ to be a clean, friendly, and fun resort. Our wedding itself was beautiful, fun and relaxed – really, everything we wanted it to be.
Arrival at PoP airport was uneventful. The airport is undergoing renovations, and it is pretty obviously under construction to update some very dated decor. AC rep checked us in on the bus on the way to the resort, which was great, and saved us a ton of time at the desk. We really appreciated that even though a few of us forgot the hotel vouchers, we were set up with our keys as soon as we got to the hotel. We were greeted by a group of other Canadians from Ontario as soon as we got off the bus with beers and Jets chants – definitely a highlight of our vacation! Hi to everyone from Bowmanville if you are reading this!
Our room wasn’t quite ready for us when we arrived, but we’re pretty easygoing. We were supposed to receive champagne and flowers and fruit in our room at arrival. The next day, when our wedding coordinator found out we hadn’t received it, it was there within an hour, along with t-shirts and a bottle of rum. Our AC was very cold, but I know some others in our group had weak or non-functioning AC. We tip the maid and fridge fillers daily, and we had a good supply of drinks all week.
Restaurants and Bars: Buffet: we took most of our meals at the main buffet for convenience sake. The food was good, good selection, and lots of culinary staff replenishing as necessary. Bacon almost every morning, and it was great! My husband loved the omelettes, as well. The waitstaff were really friendly, and recognized us after a few days. Sometimes slow to get drinks if it’s busy – consider getting them yourself on the way to the table. As well, my father has celiac disease and had no trouble finding suitable choices at the buffet. Tex-Mex: I love spicy food, and this was probably my favourite of the sit down restaurants. I had my bachelorette dinner there, and the staff were super fun and attentive. They brought out huge sombreros after the meal, so we have some great pictures. Italian: Lunch buffet was fantastic, it became our usual after we discovered it. Pizzas were surprisingly good. Mediteranean: The meal was presented well, but I found my steak to be undercooked (and I like it medium rare to rare). Again, staff were great, and came out to sing a very enthuastic happy birthday to one of our friends. Fast food near the Diamond Club: I wasn’t as impressed with the food at this one, but I don’t like fast food for the most part. They serve burgers, hot dogs, chicken, soup and salad between meals. It was busy, especially with young families having a bite before the main buffet opened, and as usual, staff were great. We had two large groups go to the sit down restaurants (20 people or so), and both times, the staff initially denied that they could have agreed to the reservation, stating they couldn’t accomodate the group. After we showed proof, though, they made it work, and were friendly and attentive. We spent most evenings at the strip (Pueblo Principe), which is outside the main hotel area but still on the grounds. There are patio tables and nightly entertainment, and animation staff will try to get you to dance with them. We had a few good games of flip cup going, and the staff joined us for a while, as well as some other guests. Lots of fun! We had a great time in the kareoke bar, although it gets very smoky. The disco/club was fun, but beware the sticky/slippery floors. The dj takes requests all night, and there tends to be a lot of Michael Jackson, which was just fine with us.
We brought travel mugs as favours for our guests, which keeps your drinks colder, and means fewer trips to the bar.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: Beach: My husband felt the beach was a B-. The beach is darker sand, and the water is a little murky. Our friends who have stayed at 5 stars especially noticed a difference. The hotel has brough in sandbags as a breakwater, which might seem a little unsightly, but they were really fun to swim to and sit on. The staff are constantly working, raking away rocks and cleaning away our empty cups. I didn’t find the ocean floor rocky as I walked into the ocean. Still great sun and lots of fun, but not the white sand and turquoise water you will find in other areas. Pools: The pools were very nice, lots of chairs, and the swim up bar was fantastic. There are activities going on for most of the morning (aqua aerobics, stretching, bikini contests), so it you are looking for peace and quiet, you might want to consider the beach or Golden Club. My one concern was that three of our guests got ear infections, two of them severe enough to warrant medical attention. We had to wonder if this was related to the pool. The towel lineup is a little wild, consider bringing your own.
Grounds: again, the staff are constantly working. Not so much as a stray leaf to be seen. Immaculate. If I could choose, I would like to see more varieties of flowers on the grounds, but that’s really splitting hairs.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: I went to the spa and had the seaweed wrap, which was great, very relaxing. The girls were polite, and the coconut products they use smell wonderful. My bridesmaids and I got our hair done at the salon, but they did charge me more than I was originally quoted for my ‘special wedding hair’. We made a complaint, and after a few phone calls back and forth from front desk to spa, the situation was rectified. We went on the snorkelling/beach/lunch excursion, and the entire group was with our wedding. We had a great time, lots of drinks, and great lunch. Flying fish were swimming (flying?) alongside our boat – amazing! I think part of the fun might have been the fact everyone on the boat was with our party, as some friends went on a different day and weren’t as impressed. We also rented a taxi and went into Sosua, but had a bit of a detour due to language barrier. Went for lunch at a restaurant (Melia Mui?) in Sosua, and while the food was great, the service was extremely slow – we waited almost 1.5 hours for our meals, and had a limited amount of time in the city, so we were pretty irritated. Shopping in Sosua was a bit of a disappointment, but the trip itself was fun, and it was worth it to see life outside the resort, if briefly. We did stop at a supermarket to buy rum, which I would recommend – much cheaper than the vendors or gift shops. I would discourage you from buying anything from the vendors on the nights they come into the hotel and set up shop. Friends were offered prices more than $250 higher than what we paid for the same items on the beach.
Two of our guests had to use the medical facilities, both due to earaches. The first, a male in his twenties, went by himself, and was told that he needed to go the next town to get medication. He ended up in an ambulance on the way to Puerto Plata, and the hospital tried to give him an IV and get him stay for the night – for an earache! He’s in the medical field himself, so he declined, but they did make him pay $500+ up front for his care due to his insurance. The second, and more serious, was for our friend’s 8 month old, who also had an earache. Mom is a nurse, and was also surprised when they suggested an IV. However, the pediatrician was very accomodating and respectful, and they did not feel pressured. They were very grateful for their travel insurance, though, as they did need to stay longer because their son was not cleared to fly.
Other wedding matters…: Our wedding coordinator, Georgina, was amazing, very pleasant and professional. She seemed to be a pro at getting things done in a pinch. The flowers were absolutely gorgeous, and plentiful, and the ceremony went very smoothly. Our group was considerably larger than most destination weddings, but the Georgina and the staff made sure everything was perfect. We decided ahead of time just to go with the music the hotel provided, and we were glad to not have to worry about it. At the ceremony, the hotel provided a keyboardist, who was very talented. The photographer was lots of fun, and took some great shots, although the packages were a little more expensive than we anticipated. Our wedding meal was at the Italian restaurant with a special menu, and we were very impressed. Started with a shrimp cocktail, then a fish soup, breads, and for the main course, surf and turf: a huge lobster tail with tomato and cheese topping, and a large portion of steak with mushrooms and onions. The lobster was particularly good! In hindsight, I would have asked to substitute a salad for the soup, as it seemed guests either loved the soup or hated it. Our dessert was a chocolate mousse, as well as wedding cake, which was delicious. The staff were again fantastic, laughing as our friends’ children helped deliver wedding cake. Lots of drinks, very accomodating, plently of mamajuana and flaming cuacharacha shots!
Overall, we had a wonderful time, and I would definitely return to this resort. The staff were so good, we are considering trying other Bahia properties. Our wedding truly exceeded our expectations, and if you’re considering a destination wedding in PoP, I would highly recommend this resort, much in part to Georgina and the staff.