BARCELO PUNTA CANA – CLUB PREMIUM/PRESTIGE November 10 – 17, 2013 Ruth (mra) & Dave – Belleville ON, Canada We had the opportunity to take a “very last minute” vacation to Punta Cana & after finding what we thought to be an excellent price, we booked the BARCELO PUNTA CANA -Club Premium/Prestige for 7 glorious days ! FLIGHT: Because of some personal scheduling, we had a 3 day flying window and found that flying from Montreal was going to be much better than flying from Toronto. We chose Transat Vacations due to the fact that they still had Option Plus seating with extra leg-room available on our “last minute flight” & the price fit our budget. Departure was from Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport in Montreal at 7:00am. We had Options Plus booking & had also pre-booked our Emergency Row seating for the extra leg room..both for the Outbound & Inbound flights. It was a quick check-in at the Airport & going through Security was a breeze…from start to finish, about 20 minutes, with boarding starting at 6:25am. Our plane was big, holding approx 340 pax & we were loaded and ready to taxi by 7:05am. A pleasant flight with great staff.
Arrival: AIRPORT ARRIVAL: Touch down is 12:08pm & getting off the plane was easy…getting into the Arrivals area was another thing, as we were “herded” onto a couple of buses & driven around past the air planes to the Arrival walkway. We could have walked it much faster ! It was a quick line through Immigration and then the stupidity/kaos started at the luggage carousel. You have 340 pieces of luggage coming off one plane, and as the luggage came around, the baggage handlers just took the suitcase off & jumbled them all together. There was no rhyme or reason and people had difficulty finding their possessions. We eventually found our suitcases & were off to find our transfer bus. And it was the best we’ve ever had…a van with 6 people ! 4 of us to Barcelo Punta Cana & 2 people to Dreams. The other best part?? The drive on the new highway was only 25 minutes long !! RESORT ARRIVAL: We had been instructed by our Resort contact to come, with our luggage, immediately to the Club Premium Lounge on the 3rd floor. The porters, after unloading our luggage from the van, didn’t want us to do that, so they instead took us to the Reception. And it was them who figured out that we should be upstairs at the Lounge anyway !. So up we went to be warmly greeted by Rosa . Our room was ready for us, but we could not get into it until later in the afternoon due to some water leakage from the shower in the room above ours. Rosa & Yessica got us checked in & we received our wrist bands & information package, complete with a la carte reservations for the entire week! Off to explore & have some lunch, we returned to the Lounge to check on the status of our room. And since the repair in the room above us couldn’t be done until 4pm, Rosa found us another room that we could use until that time.
Rooms: ROOMS: Finally, we are able to access our room we were so overwhelmed by what we saw upon opening the door! Our room is a Club Premium Suite…with room to spare ! A full bathroom on the left as we come in the door… a walk-in shower with rain-head shower heads, toilet & full sink and the most beautiful tile work that I’ve seen in a long time. Walking into the living room we have a futon-type couch that could sleep 2 children if needed, 3 comfortable chairs, a big coffee table that is holding a “fresh fruit plate”, a desk with 3 storage drawers & a low credenza with 6 more storage drawers. Along the wall is a “coffee bar” with a tray holding the coffee maker, 2 mugs & a basket of coffee supplies. Under the coffee bar is the mini-fridge, complete with water, beer, & soda pop. To the right of the “coffee bar” is a bank of closets/shelves with room enough to hang jackets and the storage of suitcases for the week, plus it is the location of the electronic safe. Located on a shelf that had easy access and for us, the cost of the safe was included in our package. From the living room, we go into the bedroom & our senses were greeted by 4 towel swans surrounded by red rose petals on the bed. And on the credenza is a bouquet of red roses. It was simply stunning ! There is another full wall of closet/shelving space in the master bedroom, plus a desk & credenza with drawer space. On each side of the bed was a bedside table with lamps & switches that controlled lights & the ceiling fan. There was also an Ipod docking station/radio/alarm clock on one of the tables. There were hangers, although I did bring some plastic ones with me & left them behind. The suite included robes & slippers, plus an iron and ironing board. The master bathroom had a Jacuzzi bathtub with shower & there was also another walk-in shower with a rain-head. The sink/counter area was large and had plenty of space to accommodate our essentials ! I was very impressed with the “basket of bathroom amenities” that was available in both bathrooms. And it was nice that we could both get ready for dinner at the same time ! The king-size bed was very comfortable & the pillows were spot on!…the first resort that I’ve not had to grumble about pillows ! We check out the view from our 3rd floor balcony…a more beautiful view I could not have !! Looking out over the quiet pool we could view the ocean, the pool, the El Mexico Lindo restaurant and in the distance we could see what was suppose to be Roco-Ki Our maid did a great job with our room during the week, usually having it done by mid-afternoon. And most evenings, we’d have a “turn down service”, complete with rose petals, chocolates & towel art. Water, pop & beer is replaced in the mini fridge daily…we would leave a note as to what items we required, along with a tip, and we were kept filled during our stay.
Restaurants and Bars: LOBBY/RECEPTION/LOBBY BAR(S): The Lobby is quite big and seems to be able to handle the amount of people that come through it, but for me there was nothing really special & outstanding. In fact the sitting area & Lobby looked very bland & I thought it could do with a fresh coat of colour ! There are 2 Lobby Bars for this resort…Alhambra to the right of the Reception Desk and just outside of the main dining room, & the Marien, located to the left of the Reception Desk and just opposite the Guest Services Desk. The hum of activity each night was at the Alhambra Bar, the Marien was much quieter. We did spend a bit of time at these bars people watching & listening to some entertainment that was in the “piano bar”, but most of our time was spent upstairs in our Club Lounge where things were a bit quieter. FOOD & RESTAURANTS: This is where we had some problems, as we found the food to be generally un-appealing & very repetitive. And if it hadn’t been for the fact that we had a la carte dinner reservations for the full week, I know that we would have been disappointed. As it was, we were disappointed in the variety of food during lunch in the Alcazar (main dining room) and were happy instead, to be able to order off the menu at at the Mexico Lindo Restaurant just off the beach. There is also a Don Simon Pizzeria located in the upper rafters of the Mare Nostrum (Marlin) Poolside Restaurant, open during lunch only, from 11am to about 4pm. Unfortunately, the Pizzeria was open on the weekend only during our stay, but at least we were able to eat there once. I must say that the a la carte restaurants were very varied. Our choices for the week included the Tokio Japanese, Mare Nostrum (what used to be known as El Marlin), El Conuco (Dominican), Le Comedie (French), La Dolce Vita (Italian), Mexico Lindo. Our favourites were Le Comedie, Mare Nostrum & La Dolce Vita. For breakfast we were content to eat in our Club Lounge where a buffet of eggs, bacon, cereal, toast, croissants, muffins, fresh fruit, yogurt, cheese, cold meats, tea, coffee, juice & milk greeted us every morning…with no line ups !
Beach/Pools/Grounds: THE RESORT & GARDENS: This resort is fairly well kept but we did notice a few areas that needed a bit of TLC…some paint, some weeds pulled from the garden and even a few more flowers could be added. What gardens are there, did not reflect the beauty of the area…some of the bushes were flowering, and other areas were pretty bland. Maybe it was just the time of year ! The walkways, paths & ramps were well taken care of & those of the maintenance staff we saw, were busy all the time. Security staff was in full view during the day & evenings. POOL(S): We had 2 pools available for our use …the quieter one located opposite Bldg 3 & the activity pool with swimup bar, located opposite Bldg 4. Our favourite was the quieter pool with a “hidden Jacuzzi area” in the centre. There was also Jacuzzi tubs opposite Bldg #7. The pools were well kept …netted & cleaned every morning. The pool area didn’t seem to be too busy during our week’s stay & although “the towel game” was played the resort wasn’t busy enough for that to make much difference. There were plenty of loungers & palapas available for those who wanted them. THE BEACH: This resort is located on a nice stretch of beach in the Playa Arena Gorda area of Punta Cana. The sand is pristine & is beautiful and very walkable….to the right of the Barcelo is the remnants of the Grand Paradise Bavaro, soon to be the new Royalton Punta Cana & Memories Splash; followed by the Majestic Colonial & the Majestic Elegance. To the walkable left of the Barcelo is the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino & in the distance is what was suppose to be the Roco Ki . There are no palapas on the beach for the Barcelo, but there is a nice bank of palm trees that give off plenty of shade for those who need & want it. Loungers were plentiful & there did not seem to be too much of “the towel game” being played here either. Staff kept the beach area clean, as did vacationers due to the fact that garbage bins were very prevalent. Two Lifeguard Stations are manned daily from 10am to 5pm & flags fly to advise swimmers of the water conditions. For most of our week, the “red” flag was flying, but that didn’t stop people from taking advantage of the waves. The one main problem I had with this beach area & it was the same with our stay at the Grand Palladium…there were no chairs available for those who would rather sit than lay. If we wanted a chair, then we had to “borrow” some from the lower pool bar & hope that they were still available for our use the next day !
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: ENTERTAINMENT: We did not have the chance to take in any of the shows during our week, but enjoyed a couple of entertainers in the Alhambra Piano Bar area. DAILY ACTIVITIES: As well as the swimming, lounging, walking & excursions that you do while on vacation, the Animacion Team kept guests as busy as they wanted to be with Merengue lessons, Spanish lessons, horse shoes, darts, funny games, twists & turns on the Trapeze & scrambles up the Rock Climbing Wall. A tennis court, a games room/Sports Bar & Gym are also available for guests. There was also a great Kids Area, with Barcy’s Water Park & Barcy’s Mini Club. A wide variety of things to do!
Other Comments: GOOD BYE; Our week of relaxation & beautiful weather came to an end and it was time to say goodbye to our new friends Rosa, Yessica & Angela in the Club Premium Lounge. We had a quick trip back to the Airport and our check-in was very smooth, although the Senoritas who were taking pictures were not happy that we walked right through without having ours done. The flight back to Montreal was on time & it was a surprise to go “from beach & palm trees to all things Christmas” ! We had a wonderful vacation & so glad that we chose this resort. Would we recommend this resort ?? …yes, but spend the extra & go Club Premium or Prestige if you can. And yes, we will return when the time allows.