Carretera a Bayahibe, Playa Dominicus, Bayahibe
Catalonia Gran Dominicus is an all-inclusive resort located on the south-east coast of the Dominican Republic and overlooks the white sandy beach of Bayahibe.
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"A pretty nice resort."
Nancy on Feb 1, 2009 >
7 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2009
824 people found this review helpful
Arrived around 8 in the evening. Customs and baggage claim went smoothly and we were onto the bus with no hassles. The road to the resort was pitch black and narrow, which made for an exciting half hour. The Nolitour rep had us fill out a check-in card with our particulars and passport number on the bus and we were given our bracelets. At the resort we were served a welcome drink while we stood in line to check in. The card helped immensely and it didn’t take time to be given our welcome bag and key. We were given 1 key per room - a regular key attached to a wooden circle with our room number and the villa name on it. We took it off in our room as we didn’t want to lose it and have whoever found it just walk into the room. http://travel.webshots.com/album/569984739oKOgJT . We were in the Barahona Villa, a few minutes walk from the main bar and buffets. The room was spacious enough – 2 double beds, a dresser and mirror with a chair, regular sized TV and a small fridge in the dresser. Electronic safe in the good sized closet. A shelf by each bed served as a night table, no clock, iron or coffee maker. Mattress was quite comfortable but pillows were not. Air conditioning was good and pretty quiet. We had a nice sized balcony with 2 Adirondack chairs. The building was beside the service road which the employees used - so we could hear them come in to work around 6:45 each morning. Rooms were quiet even if close to activities. Guests were usually in their rooms by midnight so we didn’t have much banging of doors. All the villas have wonderful tropical landscaping around them.
Bathroom needed updating. Hardly any counter space but a pretty flowered sink. There were shelves near the sink for your personal things. No bathtub and the stand-in shower was circular and curtained. Many times we had no hot water during peak hours – would have to wait 15 minutes and then it was boiling. Toiletries supplied but we didn’t use them and facecloths were not supplied. Toilet is closet sized with a wooden door. Tile grout was in need of replacement and was very grungy looking. I was told they are updating the bathrooms and that will be a great improvement. The fridge is restocked daily with small bottles of water – a soft drink or two would have been appreciated at times but what I missed the most was the coffee maker. Maids did a good job with cleaning.
Everything is centrally located. Reception is at the entrance and that’s where you’ll find the exchange desk and the reps. All the action happens near the beach. The main bar and pool dominate the middle part and the buffet and a la cartes are on either side. The theatre and shops are also in the same area. The whole resort is clean and well landscaped and the gardeners work at it all day long. They spray for mosquitos before supper time – I only witnessed it when on my balcony so I don’t know if they did it near the restaurants. A man with a tank on his back, wearing a mask, sprays along the bushes every evening. You can hear him coming. I didn’t notice a strong smell of insecticide but didn’t take any chances and would go to the room for a while.
Food was pretty good! The resort is mainly Italian and this was reflected in the food choices and preparation. Fish and a meat cooked to order at separate food stations, good variety of pasta, more fish and another meat dish at the buffet counters. Salad fixings with choice of oils and vinegars. Good Bruschetta and Italian cold cuts. Smoked salmon was on the menu often. The daily soup was never really hot – almost bordered on cold, as were lots of the veggies and potatoes. Good choice of breads and grissini and the toasters worked well! Desserts were great and ice cream was available for lunch only. Coffee was not up to par – especially considering the European clientele – and it was only served for breakfast in the buffet. The pool bar would open around 8:30AM and served delicious coffee from espresso machines but if you couldn’t wait until then you only had the buffet coffee – made very early in the morning and overheated in those big 50 cup urns, served by the staff at your table. By 8 AM it tasted boiled and would burn your mouth. Eggs were made to order at the egg station but they would also dump a pound of bacon on the same griddle and cook it along with the eggs. They didn’t cook it lined up but in a pile so it never got cooked enough for my tastes. The bacon fat would be flowing all over the place and they used this fat to cook the eggs. People who wanted bacon would be given a clump of it straight from the griddle and you could see the fat just flowing onto their plates – yuck! No bacon for me this time, lol. Buffet was open from 7 to 10, 12:30 to 2 in afternoon and from 7:30 to 10 in the evenings.
We ate at 2 a la cartes – Steakhouse and Mexican. We had no problem reserving in the middle of the week for either one. We enjoyed both meals – service was great and the decoration of the restaurants reflected the theme quite nicely. The Tequila shrimp and quesadillas were terrific as was the steak tenderloin in the Steakhouse. Not the tenderloin we’re used to, but tasty and very tender.
Beach Snack Bar is right on the beach and is open from about 10:30 till 5:30: make-your-own hot dogs, hamburgers and sandwiches to order, fries, onion rings, delicious roast chicken and nuggets, salad bar, self-serve beer (Presidente), and fruit bar. No desserts or coffee. There is also a bar on the beach with slush machines and self-serve soft drinks.
El Patio restaurant serves assorted pasta and delicious thin-crust pizza at lunch time. It becomes the Italian a la carte in the evenings. Nice place to sit – near beach and pool – beer and coffee available. There are line-ups here at 12:30. Service at all the restaurants and bars was impeccable. There was always a smile and the staff were quick to remove your plates. I don’t think we were ever served at any of the restaurants/bars by the same person more than once and we usually sat in the same area. I was a bit disappointed in that aspect as I like to form some kind of friendship with the staff.
We gave the beach mixed reviews. The water is calmer than Punta Cana and very clear but the beach isn’t wide because they arrange rows of loungers on the area where we usually walk. The beach slopes down quite strongly to the waters edge so you are walking on a slant. If you go higher up you’re ankle deep in the soft sand and it’s not easy to walk or jog. To avoid coral, enter the water in front of the activity hut and the snack bar. It looks as if there has been some erosion because we had to step up about a foot or so to get to the lounger area. All along this line there were wasps that nested in the sand near the exposed palm tree roots. They never bit or bothered you but they were flying about close to the ground all day. The water isn’t deep and you can go far out before it’s chest-high. There’s a man-made reef along the safety line and you can see 3-4 different kinds of fish. There is also a pier to the left of the beach were some people were fishing or bringing bread to feed the fish. Waves weren’t high but they were strong. Not that many palapas but lots of palm trees for shade. The towel game is popular but you can still get shade by 9:30 AM. The shade area gets crowded and don’t be surprised to see towels on unoccupied loungers for long periods of time. Loud music is blasted from 10:30 till 12 and from 2:30 to 5. We didn’t visit the beach vendors this trip but did the half day excursion to Catalina Island. Snorkelling off shore wasn’t that great and there wasn’t much coral. Lots of debris at the bottom – water was 10 ft. deep there. People were bringing bread and bananas for the fish and the guide had no clue when I told him it was bad for the fish and the environment. He thought I was really funny! We enjoyed the beach area on the other side of the island, where we saw more fish than off shore. They have a snack bar there and toilets and a small souvenir shop. Beware of vendors trying to sell you starfish shells – our guide said they would be taken away from you at customs. He was not popular with the vendors that day. We thought the vendors spoiled the effect of a ‘deserted’ island. Coming back we slowed down at Casa de Campo and were shown houses of celebrities – Madonna, M. Jackson, Shakira, Julio Iglesias – fun to see and a real eye opener. Saona Island and Catalina are both about a 30 minute boat ride from the resort. We were happy with our half day.
The entertainment staff are very active! The team is made up of Italians, French and Dominicans. They mingle a lot with the guests and are on the beach for an hour each morning and afternoon, stopping by your lounger and chatting before starting the activities. Lots of dance and aerobic classes on the beach and sports such as Bocce, petanque, volleyball. Activities alternate from the pool to the beach and you can hear the music all over the resort. The Italians join in every activity – old and young alike. They love dancing and dance under their palapas, on the beach, in the water – wherever there’s music. It was great to see them enjoying themselves and I was envious of the ladies who had such wonderful dance partners J The theme song is ‘Hey, Baby’ and it plays about 10 times a day. Everyone congregates around the pool bar in the evening– again lots of music, games and dancing with the animators until the show starts at 10 PM. It can get noisy and if you don’t like the music there’s nowhere else you can go except back to your room. Don’t miss the pool show – they turn off the lights around the area and there are lots of torches going on – quite a sight to see. The shows are done by the animation team and they’re also at the disco until 2 AM. They show up smiling and bouncy on the beach at 10 AM! We heard no music from the Iberostar next door.
There’s an internet hut near the main bar with 4 computers. The computers kept switching to Italian and I was lost. Spanish keyboards slowed me down too. $5 for 30 minutes – speed is pretty fast. There are pricey boutiques and a small shop where you can buy ice cream, snacks, personal supplies etc. and a cigar-rum hut where you can sit and smoke and relax. The Casino was closed for renovations but if you wanted, you could go to the Dreams resort - $10 taxi each way and use theirs.
As far as language barriers…if you only speak English you might find it difficult . I recommend going with friends or family because it could get lonely. I speak fluent French and limited Spanish and had no problem. Most staff spoke fluent Italian or French. The DJ includes some English in the evenings but leaves things out in the translation so you miss out a lot. The English menus at the a la cartes are a real joke– half English, half Spanish and half Italian – so be prepared for a laugh. I would think that the Catalonia could have had them properly translated. If you can, leave some used novels at the 'library' for future guests as there is not much in English. I would estimate that 80% of guests were Italian, 15% French or Quebecois and 5% Anglophone. I spoke to some anglophone guests and they said they really enjoyed their vacation. The Domincan staff really go out of their way to make you feel welcome.
All in all, a pretty nice resort. Food is pretty good, water is calm, everything is centrally located and not far from your room. If you like peace and quiet on the beach you might be disappointed. If you like long walks on the beach – ditto. If you like mingling with other guests or chatting with staff, you’ll be disappointed if you don’t speak the language. This resort has a different flavour than the non-European resorts but it can be a lot of fun. Danielle, our Canadian Nolitour/Transat rep was very helpful and available every day. She is perfectly bilingual so you can speak to her with ease. If you want to surprise her or thank her – bring her some Maple Syrup. It’s the only thing she misses from home!
You can check out my album here: http://travel.webshots.com/album/569984739oKOgJT
"Cozy hidden piece of paradise"
Sule on Oct 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Oct, 2009
816 people found this review helpful
Arrival: oct17/oct24 2009
We travelled with our 2and 3,5 years old kids. We had a great vacation.Everything was like a nice dream which you never want to wake up!
Clean,comphy but needs renovation which they have started in some sections.
Restaurants and Bars:
Buffet in all meals was very satisfying for each member of our family.
But the Pizza restaurant which serves italian food was perfecto! We tried steak house it was also good..But I got sick after I had a bite from an undercooked hamburger. Good thing I brought Pepto- bismol with me in case for my kids get sick but I had to use it for myself and I recovered next day and did not miss anything.
Beach was amazing very safe for young kids, clear water ,nice sandy beach good for making sand castles!Walking on beach is little rough but fun to go to little shops to see souveniors and the other side neighbour hotels iberostar' lighthouse.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Animation team was really great.We enjoyed the shows in beach and at night in theather especially gala tropical was good.We rented a taxi and go to santa domingo and altos de chavon.payed 200 US$ tips inc.and had a great cultural tour but spend the day away from the beach...
I definitely recommend this resort who likes family vacation it is not a place for partying most of the guests are europeans esp. italians.don't expect luxury on the other hand I would call this resort "cozy hidden piece of paradise"
"Wow what a wonderful week"
Posted by: Maureen
on Nov 23, 2010 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Nov, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
781 people found this review helpful
We stayed at the Catalonia Gran Dominicus from November 8th to 15th and had a wonderful week.
We are not strangers to Dominican Republic and have stayed at the following resorts...
Puerta Plata - Oasis Marien and Iberostar
Punta Cana - Catalonia, Princess and Gran Bahia Principe
The Gran Dominicus is a very personable resort.
The staff are all top notch and we felt pampered with their care.
From the entertainment staff, our wonderful waitress, the dive staff, staff at the front desk,the medic and even the telephone operator; all spoke english and were more that accommodating.
The layout of the resort makes you feel a part of everything that is going on because nothing is too far away. The large bar is where everyone gathers and like a clock all the other amenities are located around it; the pool, the buffet, the theatre, shops and a la carte restaurants.
The food in the buffet was very good and there is a wide selection and every night there is a different theme.
As written by all other reviews; the pizzeria is fabulous. I don't even like pizza but everyday I had to try another piece. It is cooked in a wood burning oven and is very tasty.
The rooms need some renovating and you can upgrade your room for as little as $15 per person per night but we found our room clean and comfortable.
There are lots of channels on the TV but bring a digital clock, there isn't one in the room.
The prices in the gift shop are competitive and they have a full compliment of liquour, medication and snacks.
Everything was clean and there is always staff working on keeping it that way.
There are many different people at this resort and many languages being spoken but we always got by with a little help from the staff.
The beach was so calm especially since a hurricane Tomas had just left.
There is some erosion on the beach which makes it hard to walk along.
The fish are so beautiful. The snorkelling is great right off shore or you can book a great trip to Soana or Catalina island. To book any dive tour see the resort dive guys on the beach. No need to drive to the boat there is a large dock on the resort.
We were always entertained by the animation staff which kept us busy.
We would like to go back tomorrow back it's back to work.
"Catalonia-3 star at best"
Posted by: Ron
on Feb 20, 2013 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2013 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
306 people found this review helpful
Came to Catalonia because we could not find any 4* in Dominican or Mexico under $1000. We stayed at the Wyndam 2 years ago and paid a lot less. We noticed that this time the Hotels are pushing this "Privileged" status, for $20 per day, which from what I could see is not worth the money. They basically take things away from the regular customers, (like nice places to sit) and give them to the Privileged ones. It created a lot of animosity and bad feeleing at the resort. If its all inclusive then keep it that way and quit fooling around.
This is the second time we came to la Romana, and I fogort the trip to the hotel was such a pain in the ass. First of all you get to the airport at about 10pm because of the late flight, then you have to put up with an archaic immigration system that took another hour because they only had two booths for about 1000 people. After that you sit on a bus, and wait for every straggler to get through the line. When everyone is on the bus a nolitours rep comes on an tells you it is only 15 minutes to the hotel. Don't believe that liar! We had to stop at Hotel Dreams, which has an entrance road thats about 5 miles long, and speed bumps every 100 feet. It took us another hour from the airport to get to Catalonia, just after midnight. So we arrive tired, and hungry, and are given room keys and told to go to the pizzeria for food. Not so, as the room was 90 degees because they didn't turn on the air conditioner, and the pizzeria had about 3 slices of dried out pizza left.
This place was a bit tired. You could see that things had not been looked after, and the rooms were not very appealing. We actually changed rooms the first day as we asked for an upper floor,king, and got a lower floor, with problems. They accomodated us as I put my foot down, and told them I would not be coming back every day about this. The next room was better however, it was very basic, with no pictures on the walls, missing tiles, doors that didn't close etc. Otherwise it was ok.
Restaurants and Bars:
The bars were the best thing about this place. For once we found a place that made real drinks in real glasses, not 2-oz plastic cups. They had real Mohitos, Caparinas, and good beer. The beach bar was good too, and they made crepes at the beach, which weren't bad.
The restaurants were another story.
Italian- had better food from a michelina frozen dinner. Great ambiance but that was about it.
Mexican- fahitas were tough, and fish was undercooked. Staff could not speak any english, however we spoke a bit of spanish, and still they could not understand us?
Steak house - We had eaten at the buffet and found their beef to be in-edible and read that the steak house was the worst of the bunch so we declined.
We asked the Nolitours rep if she had eaten there, and she said they weren't allowed as they weren't customers. Wouldn't you think that the person giving you information about this place should have eaten there?
The beach was as expected, as we had been there before, but it seems that there has been some storm damage there.
The pool was ok, and had a simulated beach with shallow end that goes deeper, however the pool has four sections, that go from shallow to deep with no warning and often I would be walking in waist deep water then fall off the edge and go under. Kind of wierd layout.
The grounds were nice, with lots of palm trees, and bushes. They do a good job on gardening. Its lit up at night, so you can see where youre walking. We have been to other places where its so dark you can't even see where youre walking.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Activites were good, streching, aerobics in the pool, dancing, volleyball, bingo etc. Music around the bar at night was a bit cheezy. They have a lot of kids at this place, but they have a kids club thats pretty good, however at night the kids are all wired and running around. Can't figure out why they didn't seem to have any accidents with all these kids running around.
I would not come back here as there were too many kids, and the hotel didn't seem to know that they should have a separate area for families, and for people without kids. We had a family beside us and the kid was screaming for four hours straight the first night. We almost changed rooms a second time for that.
As is with most of the Carribean, the star rating of hotels is overrated. This place is no more than a 3*. They may have been a 4* when they openned but as things deteriorate, they don't fix them and everything goes downhill.
Food quality is a big one for us, and we will try a 5* next time, as we found the food sub-standard. Quantity was good, and variation was good, but quality was not. Undercooked eggs, fish,etc, overcooked meat, desserts unappealing.