We were quite apprehensive about the Grand Paradise Bavaro after reading the reviews and having "drew" the resort in the SunQuest "roulette". Our experience is tempered by 6+ visits to various Punta Cana resorts and lots of other Caribbean destinations over the past 12 years. We have stayed in 5 star resorts as well as much lesser properties so we can judge this resort with clear eyes. Overall I was pleasantly surprised by the resort, had a positive vacation and have few real complaints.
We flew SunQuest Vacations via Thomas Cook from Halifax on Feb. 6 arriving in Punta Cana in a tropical rainstorm. The aircraft was the usual "bus" in the sky but we had a reasonable chicken meal and a small complimentary glass of wine on board. The airport arrival was smooth and we were soon referred by the sunquest rep.to our bus transport. The offers from local porters to carry our bags was no worse than usual and a polite "No gracius" was all that was required.
We arrived with a lot of other vacationers hence check in took about 30 minutes. The desk was not organized to Delta/Fairmont standards but they got us checked in and tagged with the resort bracelet. The room safe at this resort is an extra $20 US for the week but that is not unusual at DR resorts. The bell staff had our luggage to our room quickly (it was pouring). A small tip ($2)was appreciated. The room was clean and well equipped and close enough to the beach to see it to the left off the balcony. This was in the older section of the property but the room and location was fine. I can see how some picky travelers might consider the building worn but who spends a lot of time admiring the furniture when at all inclusive resorts? The room had a new flat screen TV, two double beds and a balcony with table and chairs. As we were Sunquest Plus the room had beach towels, a complimentary bottle of rum, fridge stocked with water and soft drinks. The bathroom had the usual face clothes, bath towels, shampoo and soap.
Restaurants and Bars: The main buffet was OK, the food OK. If you are going for a high cuisine experience forget it and go somewhere else – but there was lots to eat, fresh fruit, tomatoes and cucumbers. Maybe after two weeks you might get a bit tired of the buffet. There were a few frustrations in the buffet: mainly slow and disorganized setting of the tables and water service. At breakfast I noticed that the bus teams were not assigned zones and hence coffee/water table service and clean-up was spotty at best. Perhaps the resort should review its training program. The staff were polite although I saw a few "guests" being rude to them. We enjoyed the beach buffet for our lunches – nothing fancy but again : OK salads, chicken, pizza, burgers etc… We ate at two a la cartes: The Steakhouse and the Italian. The food was good and service passable. I like to have ice cream for desert – regrettably there was none available.
The bars: Lobby bar OK but slow, The Pool bar was my preference One bar tender, "Juan Carlos", knew how to make a Coco Loco and although he did not smile much his service was super.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: The grounds at the GPB were well kept and the flowers and shrubs beautiful. We toured the newer Premier section and found the train transport efficient. It appeared the rooms and pools were newer in this section but we were glad to be closer to the beach. We ate at the buffet one night and had no complaints about the food or service. If newer means something to you this might be the place to be. It seemed that most guests in this area were Francophones.
We enjoyed the SunQuest Plus reserved beach area – One did have to be up early to get a Palapa! You can’t just show up at the beach a expect a chair at 10 AM. The beach at Punta Cana/Bavaro is wonderful and the ocean warm with a nice sandy bottom.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: We don’t stay up very late hence took in only one show and did not go to the casino. The entertainment we did see was basically a Michael Jackson show. The show could be considered a bit amateurish but it was no worse than other resort shows we have seen. We booked a free shuttle through the SunQuest rep to a local mall where cigars ,rum and other souvenirs could be purchased. The resort gift shop had most of the same items but the prices were very very high. Example: a bottle of Barcelo Imperial Rum was $48 -at the off resort mall it was $21. The resort animation staff ran the typical beach programs, yoga volleyball etc during the day. They were not rude or intrusive.
The resort had a pool side "Dominican Party" one afternoon with dancers and special drinks – It was colorful and lots of fun.
The bottom line: The resort does not deserve the poor reviews some have given it. If you want a 5 star Hilton/Sheraton/ US style experience go there if you want a basic Dominican all inclusive lay back vacation the GPB will do the job. The Grand Paradise Bavaro may need a few upgrades and benefit from some training of dining room staff but it was a good experience for us and worth the money. In short "The sun shone, there was lots of vitamin R and the beach was exceptional".