Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo Reviews

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Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo  

Ctra las Terrenas-El Limón Km.4. PO Box: 646 Las Terrenas – Samaná. Dominican Republic.

"Amazing Vacation!! "
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Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo Reviews
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Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo Las Terrenas Dominican Republic

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of 29 Hotels in Las Terrenas

User rating 4.3

Based on 22 reviews

Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo Information


On the exclusive beach of "El Portillo", this idyllic resort, Gran Bahia Principe El Portillo is located a few minutes from the village of Las Terrenas, surrounded by spectacular nature that will please the most demanding customers.

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Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo Reviews

Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo Review: 4.3 of 5 22 reviews
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"Loved the resort, but the bus ride was the deal breaker for me"

Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo
User Rating:  Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo Review: 4.0 of 5

Posted by:  Tanya  on Mar 5, 2010  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
1267 people found this review helpful

El Portillo
Samana DR

We bought the Bahia Routlette and stayed at the El Portillo in Las Terrenas from Feb 25th to March 4th

Your Arrival:
ARRIVAL
We flew with Air Canada Vacations and the flight was OK. Personally, I would suggest that Air Canada Vacations find another food supplier than Quiznos, as the food is not worth the money you have to spend on it. That is when they have enough to go around. They ran out of sandwiches by the time they got to our row, so we were offered breakfast sandwiches instead. We had to pay for them but I heard some others on board made a fuss and got them free. Anyway, enough about that, as it’s a moot point. They will not change this service as long as they make money from it.

We arrived at the El Catey airport and were whisked right through immigration and right onto the bus. No beer to buy, no time to go to the bathroom, no downtime at all for people getting off a 4 ½ hour flight before putting us on a bus for another 1 ½ drive. (In reality it is actually closer to 2 hours) Our bus didn’t have a good working air conditioner so the bus drive was very long and hot.. now, an addendum to this comment.. some of our friends went on the “small” bus and their trip only took 45 minutes as they went up over the mountains directly, whereas we on the “big” bus had to go all the way down to Samana then back up to Las Terrenas as the direct roads could not accommodate the larger bus.. they didn’t mind the drive at all. It was a deal breaker for me and although the resort was mostly wonderful (as described below), I won’t subject myself to that bus ride again. My hubby was in complete agreement, as were many others we spoke with.
Check in was done on the bus, so that was a plus. (Although if I were working at the front desk I would not want to deal with people getting off that bus ride either! )

One thing we did notice was the fact that our plane was the only “English” speaking plane at the resort. There was a plane load from Helsinki also, but most of the guests at this resort seem to hail from French speaking Canada. Apparently they don’t teach manners where these people come from, and they certainly don’t teach them to their children. I don't normally have issues with others but I can honestly say that I have never witnessed more disrespectful behaviour with a distinct lack of common courtesy to others around them, in both the children and the adults.

Rooms:
ROOMS
We went directly to our room, which was in building 18 and was on the 2nd floor in room 204. This suited us perfectly. It was a standard room, but was nice and roomy, had a king sized bed, a balcony, a decent bathroom with a jet tub (unfortunately our plug would not work so I couldn’t make use of the tub) a shower, satellite TV and bathrobes to wear during your stay. Nice touch. We did have to have our room sprayed as I was getting bit at night by mozzies or no-see-ums.. we had both in the room. I mostly got bit on parts that would stick out of the blankets at night.. it got better once the room had been sprayed, but I started wearing bug spray to bed and then daily around the resort as I was getting bit quite a lot.. I saw others with many bites too..

Restaurants and Bars:
BARS
The main bar is in the same building with the lobby, but occupies the back half of the large facility. There is “veranda” seating in a triangle pattern around an open “garden” and one large section is smoking whereas the two smaller sections are non-smoking areas, although smoking is permitted at the bar which is located in the same section as non-smoking seating.

The pool bar was open daily (weather permitting) from 10 am to 6 pm and Augustin and Joel were the main purveyors of fine beverage at this locale. They were exceptional every time we stopped by.
We did not get up to the bar at the quiet pool so I can’t comment on the service there.

The beach bar was open daily (weather permitting) and Justino was the main man here..

The Beach grill and bar was another option. All of the bars were consistent in the drinks they made and the service they provided. When it rained the only bar opened was the lobby bar, which was staffed with Augustin and Joel as well as the main staff from this bar.

RESTAURANTS
The buffet was more than adequate and most nights the food was better than what we either ate at the a la cartes or our friends ate at the a la cartes.. Weather permitting, outside every night, Nicolas runs the BBQ. That man grills the best steak I have ever eaten in the Caribbean.. No skirt steaks there.. better grade cuts grilled to perfection every time. Although my hubby, who is a bit more of a steak connoisseur than I, said he figured they were marinated. They were “cut with a fork” tender every time.

We ate in the Seafood restaurant. I had salmon cooked to perfection on rice, hubby had a tough as shoe leather steak served on ice cold potatoes.. I would have preferred with dinner veggies but they weren’t offered. Our waiter Anthoni was very good however, and deserved every bit of the tip we left him.

The other restaurant we ate at was the Gourmet Restaurant. While the food was good for the most part (my pork medallions were anything but tender) the service was crap, as our waiter “forgot” we were sitting there and we waited for almost 45 minutes for him to come take our order. The people that came in behind us were already on dessert by the time we got our orders taken. I could understand if it was busy, but we were one of only three tables in his section.. needless to say, his tip was much smaller..

We did not eat at the other two a la cartes but our friends did. They enjoyed the Italian very much, but said the service at the Oriental is very slow. Their reservation was for 6:30 and they didn’t get out of the restaurant until after 9:30. Oriental does not mean Chinese only as most people expected. They serve sushi, and various traditional dishes from several Asian countries.

They set up a sushi bar at the beach one day. I was in heaven. It was very good. What a nice treat.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
BEACH
The beach was wonderful. White powdered sand which turns to tan colored down by the water. Yes, I have been to Punta Cana, so yes, I can compare it to there.. there are very close similarities. Punta Cana is a bit softer and whiter, but this isn’t anything to complain about.. it’s a gorgeous beach.. The towel game is in full play, but it seems some people play by different rules.. (see above for referrals to who I mean). The beach is great to walk, but at the resort boundaries, be aware of the man with the big shot gun. He won’t let you go out alone if you are a single female, and even if you are a couple, he may make you sign out when you leave the property..

Do partake in the weekly Beach Party on Wednesday night. It’s a blast!

Also.. sand fleas are alive and hungry. I had to wear Off on my ankles on the beach or I got bit..

POOLS
We only spent time at the main pool one day, but found that parents would rather let their children run, scream, and splash and generally make life unbearable for others trying to enjoy the pool. We did not get to the quiet pool but our friends said they enjoyed it very much when there weren’t kids there.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
BAHIA SPA
We booked the couples massage for $70 per person. With that you got 15 minutes in the hot tub and a 50 minute massage side by side. It was first class pampering from the minute you walked in the door until you walked out feeling like a million dollars.. I could have spent all my money on their other services too.. highly recommended

EXCURSIONS
We did the whale watch. It was great. I have one point of suggestion.. when you see the boat staff standing there with a bucket of Dramamine TAKE ONE! Or two.. They aren’t pushing drugs on you.. they aren’t standing there offering them for the good of their health.. they are doing it for your own good.. most people took advantage. One mother made a comment about how she wasn’t putting those “third world” drugs in her 3 sons bodies.. bet when the three were heaving ho over the side she wished she had rethought her logic..

Some of our friends did the catamaran. They weren’t overly impressed. They have done catamarans everywhere they’ve gone, so they have something to compare to. Only rum and cokes or water to drink on the boat and then they put you on the island for 3 hours where you have to pay for drinks (at $4.50 US per) $1 to sit on a plastic chair and $3 to sit on a cushioned lounger. Food was available to be cooked for them.. lobster was $20 for a small one and $40 for a larger one. Fish was chosen from fish hanging from a tree.. they would have gone for that but when they noticed the flies were already relaxing on the fish they opted out of the food..
Our other friend did the El Limon waterfalls. She loved it. But she was very stiff and sore the next day from both the horse back ride and the climb down to the falls.

Other Comments:
STAFF
The staff was great! No complaints there. Our favourite waitress was Yahaira (Ja-High-ra) who was from Haiti. She went through a world of tragedy with the earthquake and still has a smile and a sense of humour that lights up the room. She waitresses the lobby bar and we often went there just so she would serve us. She has a 6 year old boy and she is working hard 9 ½ hours from home to help her husband afford to rebuild their house so their little boy can stop sleeping on the street. Her 27th birthday is March 21st. Wish her happy birthday if you see her on that day. Ask her to do her Michael Jackson impression.. it’s a hoot!

The Animacion team was terrific.. Luis, Santo (Tobi) Carlos (Hot Chocolate), Enimencio (Eminem), Ana (Ana Banana).. they were all great. Everyday was a new costume and a new way to make people smile.. They put in long days and still manage to smile. Maxi and the photog staff were great too. I can honestly say that the whole staff, from the maids who always smiled and said “hola” to the front desk staff and everyone in between, were simply a joy to deal with on a daily basis. We gave Simon, who works in the Tours office a bag of baseballs and gloves and hats to take to his home in Las Terrenas and give to the kids there. They have a baseball school, and the equipment was gladly received. You would have thought we had given him a million dollars. We wished we could have.

PUBLIC AREAS
The lobby was big open and very clean. The marble floors were polished to a mirror finish. Beautiful but dangerous when wet.. as were the ceramic tiles on the pool deck. One elderly lady slipped and fell and hit her head on our way to the info session, as it was raining that day. To the left of the front desk is the internet “café” which consisted of two lap top computers which did not always work properly. The cost was $12US per hour to use. Next to those computers was the guest services desk where you booked the a la cartes. We booked 2 rather than the 4 we could have done, but more about those later.

One other thing I must comment on is the automatic lights in the public bathrooms. I LOVE the idea. When you walk in the room the lights come on with motion sensor. They shut off after a preset time of no motion, say 5 minutes. Great energy saving idea!

Directly right of the front desk was the Lobby Shop. You could buy just about anything there from beer, souvenirs and snacks to decongestant. The Tour Desks were located to the right of the shop, but down a hallway. There was also an ATM, which we used with no problem. It offers service in English and Spanish, but pays out in Dominican Pesos.

SUMMARY
All in all this is a fantastic resort, despite the rude guests, the horrific bus ride and the 2 ½ days of rain, (which is no one’s fault). Would I recommend it? Definitely. Would I go back? Probably not.. unless the price was “really” right.. or I could be guaranteed to go on the “small” bus!

Photos: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=151156&id=704699012&l=ef120f65f8; http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=151107&id=704699012&l=440988e3a9

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"Best beach at an awsome place"

Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo
User Rating:  Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo Review: 4.0 of 5

Posted by:  Dave  on Feb 20, 2010  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2010 | Leisure | With Group
1078 people found this review helpful

This was our second trip to The El Portillo and the general concenses of our group was this is our favorite all inclusive so far. It is not a perfect place but was a perfect vacation and we plan to go back for 2 weeks next time.

Your Arrival:
Check in done on the bus so we headed straight to the beach restaurant. The bus ride is not 45 min to 60 min, it is a good 90 min, but the trip is beautiful over the mountain.

Rooms:
The room is large with a king bed, 2 chairs, clean and comfortable. Lots of storage for our clothes. For the most part the room was kept clean and the bathroom was cleaned and towels replaced twice a day. The turn down at night was nice although they missed us twice. Was never bothered by the staff if we left the don disturb sign out.

Restaurants and Bars:
After being to Cuba, and other Dominican hotels it was pleasant to have consistantly good food at every meal. There was always some thing new to try, Beef Wellington, roast turkey, pork roast, and always a pasta dinner built to your taste. The breakfast was good, they could use another toaster, and yes there wasn't always bacon but maybe that was a good thing. The beach restaurant was great, one of the best. BBQ chicken , hamburgers, steak. pork chops, hot dogs, salads etc, etc.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
This is one of the best beaches. Better than Varadero, or Punta Cana. Nice gentle slope, goes on forever. Prtected by a reef, with coral outcrops close to shore for easy fish veiwing. The water was pretty clear, and nice and warm.
It was necesary to reserve a spot but then where do you go that you don't. We didn't spend much time at the pool but it was warm. clean and a little small, but was never over crowded. There are several bars along the beach manned by really nice bartenders.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Didn't do any just sat on the beach or walked.

Other Comments:
The staff was very good to us. English is not their langauage but they tried and so did we.
I thought about giving a bad review just to keep people away, but couldn't do it.
I'm going back.

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"Beautiful but too crowded for our liking"

Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo
User Rating:  Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo Review: 4.0 of 5

Posted by:  Marina  on Jan 16, 2010  >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jan, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
951 people found this review helpful

...

Your Arrival:
Check in done on bus to hotel, could go straight to our rooms upon arrival.

Rooms:
Had a junior golden suite, beautiful, spacious, large bathroom, all marble and seemed to be fairly new,king bed, mini bar and private balcony.

Restaurants and Bars:
Four specialty restaurants,only went to two, Oriental and Italian, service was good but non english speaking therefore orders were mixed up!

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
Beautiful and stunning, grounds green and lush, beach beautiful, pools were adequate but too small for amount of guests, had to be reserving lounges early in the morning on both beach and pool ohterwise out of luck for the day pretty much.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Enough activities if you want, not our cup of tea, so we didn't really bother

Other Comments:
This area of the DR, gets more rain then the other areas, as our rep told me, we had 4 out of 7 days of constant downpours, not too much fun if you enjoy the beach. One cannot control the weather but for that reason we will not return to Samana

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"Best beach ever! warm and fine tan sand"

Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo
User Rating:  Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo Review: 5.0 of 5

Posted by:  Kris II  on Jan 10, 2010  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Nov, 2009 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
810 people found this review helpful

Would visit again.

Rooms:
EXCELLENT. Building 3. Air conditioned well. jacuzzi tub and separate shower, VERY clean. coffee maker, close to main reception, quiet, great beds. Only bad thing was the fridge was not very cold

Restaurants and Bars:
food was alright No nightlife except for beach party one night Has disco but not my kind of music and have to pay for drinks in there.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
Beautiful!!!!!!Shade if you need it too. Get a $25 massage for an hour on the the beach.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Los Haitus Nat Park is good and it stops at Cayo Levantado (Beach)Best beach ever! warm and fine tan sand

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"A fantastic holiday."

Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo
User Rating:  Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo Review: 5.0 of 5

Posted by:  Gillian and Evora  on Aug 1, 2009  >  1 contribution(s) PORTUGAL
Visited on: Aug, 2009
603 people found this review helpful

Arrival: 21-28 July 2009
We arrived on 21st July after an 8 hour flight from Lisbon with the charter company White. A good flight with animators for the children who entertained them with magic tricks, trips up to the cockpit etc. which seemed to make the flight go much quicker. A good flight with only a little turbulence on the way so no complaints there. After leaving the airport we were greated by Silvia the Soltour rep at the El Portillo. We were put straight on a bus and given our check-in envelopes with our room number etc. We had to fill in a few forms - a word to anyone travelling from Portugal - bring a pen! We didn't and had to borrow constantly as we weren't prepared to fill in lots of paperwork. Also bring US$ as you pay the same to get in and out of the country in either dollars or euros - 30 per person, so with exchange rates it's cheaper in dollars. The journey to the hotel took one and a half hours - not the 45 minutes we had been told. It wasn't too bad a journey although it did start to rain and that slowed us down (a bit!). I think our driver had a hot date as he was hell bent on overtaking anything that appeared before him, including the other bus that had the rest of our flight on board!!! Anyway, no need for the sickbags I'd taken off the plane as a precaution. We arrived to the animation team singing and dancing with a drink so that was nice and we set off to find our room. This proved a bit tricky as we weren't familiar with the room numbering system. We had emailed the hotel two weeks before asking for villa 2, so when I saw that our room number was 2105 I was pleased. However, staff at the hotel immediately said we were in room twenty one oh five which sent us off looking for villa 21 and me feeling very deflated!! But when we did eventually find our room after much searching and never actually finding villa 21!, we were in fact in villa 2 right next to the beach. A word to the wise, if your room number has 4 digits then the first digit is your villa number 1-9 and the other three digits your room number. If your room number has 5 digits then the first two numbers are your villa number 10-24 and the other three your room number. This should save you time and shoe leather when you arrive as the staff we asked all told us villa 21 and noone ever said try villa 2.

Rooms:
We had only booked a standard room and our room was ample with a huge king size bed and a child's bed made up for our 8 year old son. The bathroom was a good size and all was spotless. We had hot water and great pressure every day so no complaints there. We decided to rent the safe for 29$ for the week and although I read lots of reviews where people complained about having to pay for the safe, we didn't mind as it meant we had peace of mind for the whole week. Also the hotel takes responsibility if anything goes missing from the safe and they don't if anything goes missing from your room. We left the maid a dollar a day and a few small gifts - as tipping for these kind of services is not common in Portugal not many of the Portuguese I spoke to did this, and they still got the same service as we did. But we felt that as it is such a poor country and wages aren't up to much, every little helps.

Restaurants and Bars:
We ate breakfast and dinner in the buffet Las Dalias every day and never had any problems. Lots of selection and as we're not fussy eaters had good meals all the time. As we love the beach we had lunch at the Las Olas snack bar every day as they serve chicken, burgers, hot dogs, salads, fruit etc. Again, no problems there. All water is bottled, including what they make ice from so you don't have to worry on that front. We only ate once in the gourmet restaurant and we did find it disappointing. I think the buffet restaurant is the best - every night it has a different theme so there's plenty of variety and it's quick.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
The pool was busy every day but as we have a pool at home in Portugual we are definitely beach lovers. The beach is fantastic - unspoilt with great coral right in front of the hotel. The best is the one just in front of the water sports centre with a great variety of fish. Free watersports every day went down well - cayaking, snorkelling etc. which most people took advantage of. Vendors on the beach were friendly - we bought 3 large paintings for 50$ (in the hotel they were 60$ each), two wooden statues for 30$ and also some T-shirts. We never felt threatened or hastled to buy anything.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We didn't go on any tours but the consensus was they were a little expensive. A couple we met did go to see the El Limon waterfall with one of the vendors from the beach and paid 30, each and didn't have any problems but it's not advised.

Other Comments:
Our first trip to the DR and won't be our last. We thought the hotel was great, had a fantastic holiday, the staff were on the whole friendly and helpful and the service was good. We really have no complaints and hope to go back again next year.

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"Had a great time...excellent value for our $$$."

Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo
User Rating:  Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo Review: 4.5 of 5

Posted by:  Judy from Calgary  on Apr 1, 2009  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Apr, 2009
499 people found this review helpful

Arrival: Mar 28 - April 4
Okay..so it was a bit bumpy and scary..the bus ride that is. You are in a third world country not in New York...hmm let me think..that is scary too! We were given envelopes with all our resort info and pre-checked in...no waiting in long lines to do that. Our tour operator Edith from Air Canada suggested we go to the buffet and have some lunch and then check in at the a la cartes to book for our 4 specialty restaurants. Weather was great for the week..hot & humid!

Rooms
The resort is not large so getting to your building was never a far walk...not like in Mexico were you take the little shuttles to get around.Our room was in building 23..top floor..no elevator..although it was only three floors by the end of a hot day at the beach it felt like 20 floors! All in all gave us some good excersize! We had two queen beds (a bit firm as I'm spoiled with my pillowtop mattress)--great for us (sisters) but they do have king size for couples. The room was always clean...no bugs or scary critters..the shower pressure was good but for one small incident...we did have varying water temp at times but nothing to complain about. We did have an issue with the A/C..we probably should have said something, we talked to others and they were moved or had it fixed.I was fine as the fan kept things moving..again we are in a third world country and I didn't pay a zillion $ for this package. We did leave the gal small gifts and money each day...but never did get a towel animal..oh boohoo. Our turn down service was nice...even got chocolates on the pillow each night.Our safe cost was include in our package as was the bathrobes and slippers. We did leave $ in the fridge the first day and did get more Beer (Cervesa) but we didn't need it as we got everything we could drink on the resort. The water is bottled in the room and they have safe drinking water at the restaurants and a la cartes. We spent little time in our room.

Restaurants and Bars
The buffets were fine..I would stay far away from the eggs at the buffet in the morning and head straight for the fresh cooked egg station...here they make omlettes and fried eggs to your taste...mmmm yummy. Lots of fresh fruit, variety of cold cereals, breads for toast,juices, yogurt & pasteries. The sausage was ok and bacon was done well too. Enjoyed their coffee too. I enjoyed the Sushi on Asian night..we did eat at the Gourmet (2X), Oriental and the Italian...we heard the goumet was the best but our first experience was just okay..the steak was tough..second time we walked out after our meat was served like hockey pucks...we had a late sitting 8:30 PM...thanks goodess for the buffet! The Oriental was our favorite..funny others hated it...the Italian was just fair...If I return..I will only eat at the buffets..go around 6:30 Pm for dinner at the buffets..everything is nice and fresh and good selection. They had a lot of "refreshment" AKA booze stations thruout--alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Never a lack of cervesa on tap.The speciality coffee station in the evening was great..they go down real easy!We never got sick eating or drinking the water on the resort...be very cautious if you go off the resort.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
The beach was fabulous...very clean and never a problem getting a chair..people do get there early and put their towels on to reserve. Should be a 30 minute restiction as some people don't show up until after lunch. Lots of European ladies ban their tops but after acouple of days you don't even notice anymore. The vendors that sell their wares don't bug you if you wave them on..I just said no deneros and they left quickly. I did barter on a few pieces and got REALLY good deals.We didn't spend too much time at the pool...the beach was awesome and the water warm.We enjoyed watching the kite sufing and people watching. There is a great snack bar with a buffet.12-3 PM..the Chicken was fabulous! and on some days they had a BBQ going...mmmmm We ate there every day!
I did get bitten by sand fleas the first day...not thinking I did put on a scented lotion after my shower in the morning and that may have attracted them..I did however put bug lotion on each day afterwards and no problems. My sister never did get a nibble and she used nothing..I do think I'm a bit sweetie than my sister..haha--just kidding sis.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
We didn't take in any tours..we heard from some guests and they said they were just okay.. We enjoyed the beach party they put on...lots of English songs and they even had a BBQ going for those who could still waddle after going to the buffets!

Other Comments
The animation team tried hard to get people involved in mumerous activities..they did not push it but it was available for those who did...we played darts, sand putting golf, ring toss, aquasize, bingo,snorkelling..they also has tennis courst, bochieball, yoga, along with numerous other activities.The shows in the evening were pretty lame...they sure tried hard but they are not professionals and work hard to do their best..this isn't broadway! The age group was about 80% 40-60ish...great place to relax..not party central for a lot of young people. We hardly saw any children. The only negative was the staff hardly spoke ANY English..French and Spanish only..Guess we should have learn more Spanish...when in Rome do as the Romans

PS..the staff in the boutiques never smiled and made you feel like you were bothering them....sad..I would have spent more money had they even acknowledged me. PSS Had a great time...excellent value for our $$$..even our departure tax was included in our package! Go and go with an open mind...enjoy!

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"Never again to a Gran Bahia or the Dominican!"

Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo
User Rating:  Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo Review: 3.0 of 5

Posted by:  Bill from Calgary  on Mar 1, 2009  >  1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Mar, 2009
474 people found this review helpful

Arrival
Good

Rooms
Poor Unit 20 was very noisey, construction, road noise and staff parking lot.

Restaurants and Bars
Buffet was average but always busy. be prepared to wait and get in line on some night. Be warned you must wear long pants for supper.

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Large beach but have to get up early to put towels on chairs to get a spot. Very small pool, alway busy. Beautiful grounds, probably because they get a lot of rain.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
Beach staff are lazy, they would rather hit on the young ladies and be cool than do their jobs. Whale watching was fantastic, worth the money. everything is very expensive to to do there, like eat if you want lobster and drink anything other than their local brands(gasoline) $5.00 to "upgrade"

Other Comments
In my opinion the Management at this resort has only one thing in mind and that is to stuff this resort to it's fullest regardless of the outcome. We only had two warms showers in our 7 day stay and the resort was totally waterless for two days, not very pleasent!!!! The staff and managment pretend to want to help but after a couple of days I learned that they actually did not give a hoot. They will tell you whatever it took to make you go away and then totally ignore your concerns.. I have been to the Caribbean 14 times and this I can honestly say is the first time that I wished I could have gone home before my holiday was over,very sad!! Never again to a Gran Bahia or the Dominican!

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"We felt as if we had been dropped off on a deserted tropical island."

Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo
User Rating:  Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo Review: 5.0 of 5

Posted by:  Monique from Gatineau, Quebec  on Mar 1, 2009  >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Mar, 2009
534 people found this review helpful

Arrival: March 9 - 16
We are a couple in our mid-50 and we stayed at the Gran Bahia Principe El Portillo March 9-16. We flew Air Transat from Montreal. Departed on time and left one hour earlier coming back with a direct flight. Everything was perfect. On our way to Samana the plane made a scheduled stop at La Romana and we were able to get off the plane and have a drink at the outside patio at the airport. The check in for the hotel was done in the bus, card key for the room and everything. The bus ride from the airport to the hotel was 90 minutes, a bit long but worth it.

Rooms
We were in building 9, 3rd floor, room 02 (9302) with a nice clean balcony which we used everyday. Never saw an insect on the balcony. The room was beautiful, comfortable with king size bed, clean and big (junior suite). Everything worked perfectly. As for the hot water in the shower, this was the first time in our travels that we had hot showers every evening. We were situated near the entrance of the resort, which we appreciated. Quiet area and had good neighbors. We slept peacefully every night. Never had any noise.

Restaurants and Bars
Even thought the resort has four restaurants a la carte, we ate at the buffet area every evening. Why? Because it was good, tasty and plentiful and you could just show up without having to worry about time. You can eat in the beautiful dining room or at the outside patio, which is quieter, where there are beautiful tables under parasols covered with nice white linen tablecloths and candle lights. You can also have breakfast and lunch on the outside patio.

For lunch, we often ate at the snack bar buffet. They have a huge deck right on the beach overlooking the beautiful ocean views. Real beautiful!

Beach/Pools/Grounds
Attention beach lovers! This area of Samana has beautiful beaches. If you like taking long walks along beautiful beaches then this is the place. WOW!There are two pools. We noticed that most people did not know about the second pool. The main pool is near the beach and is busier. Not a huge pool but a nice pool and mainly used by families with kids. However, the second pool is located at the other end of the resort and his surrounded by block 10, 11 and 12. This is the quiet pool and also has a bar area. Real nice and quiet! This pool was mainly used by adults and never saw kids in this pool. Nice place to the day and have one last drink before heading back to our room.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
The excursions offered on the resort by the travel representatives are expensive. At $100.00 cnd and up per individual, it limits the number of activities you may want to do outside the resort. However, many people purchased their excursions directly from tour operators in Las Terrenas at a lesser cost and yes they have insurance and they will pick you up at the hotel. Las Terrenas is a 10 minute taxi ride, $20 US to/from the resort for up to a total of 7 people in a clean taxi van with air conditioning. We were dropped off at 9:30 AM and the taxi driver came back for us at 12:00 PM at our designated area. The driver asked to be paid only after we returned to the resort.

Note that businesses in Las Terrenas are closed between 12:00 and 4:00 PM and on Sundays.

You can also rent a taxi for a day for up to 7 people. For example, for $120 US you can take a taxi to/from the resort to the town of Samana. And from Samana you can purchase a boat tour on the Bay of Samana directly from tour operators near the pier. Or from the pier you can take a shuttle boat to Cayo Levantado and spend the afternoon on the beautiful public beach. If possible, try to avoid Sundays as the public beach is crowded with the locals on their day off. You will find restaurants, bars and shops.

The resort employees
Honestly, I don't think we ever saw a place that has such a finer group of amazing and dedicated employees. Everyone from the hotel reception to the bartenders, to the ladies cleaning the bathrooms on the grounds and including the animation team. They were incredibly polite and always smiling and working real hard in making sure that you felt welcomed and had a great time. This hotel is very fortunate to have such professional and dedicated people working there.

Weather
The week we were there, every morning was cloudy. However, near 11:00 AM, the clouds would disperse and we were blessed with sunshine and blue skies for the remainder of the day.

Conclusion
This was our first trip to the Samana region and it will not be our last. We spent a beautiful and restful week surrounded by beautiful unspoiled surroundings. The beaches and sceneries are picture postcards. Do not hesitate to take long walks on the beaches – you will not be disappointed. We felt as if we had been dropped off on a deserted tropical island. The food was good, the room was clean and comfortable and the employees, well, they were incredible. We have nothing negative to say. It is a 45 minute bus/taxi ride from El Portillo to the city of Samana. Beautiful tourist town with an incredible beautiful bay. Worth seeing.

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"A good holiday, but we will not be going back there anytime soon."

Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo
User Rating:  Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo Review: 4.0 of 5

Posted by:  Paul from Toronto  on Feb 1, 2009  >  4 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2009
433 people found this review helpful

Arrival: Feb 2 Feb 8
The flight on Air Canada was good although $6 for a beer, ouch. On arrival it was nice to walk down the steps and onto the tarmac. We had our luggage in a very timely manner and customs was a breeze except for the seemingly endless forms we had to fill out. The Samana airport is quite nice with a very open concept. I didn't appreciate the guy loading our luggage into the little trailer attached to the bus demanding that I tip him, needless to say I watched him load our luggage and did not reward him for his lack of manners. The ride to the resort was a real eye opener, the mountainous terrain is beautiful although the road (if you can call it that) makes for a long hour and 15 minute trip. I was taken aback at the poverty I witnessed on this journey with families living in "houses" with no hydro the size of a single car garage. The amount of skinny stray dogs and cows on the road was interesting. Arriving at the resort was a relief as there aren't any toilets on the bus (good thing I only had one $6 beer on the plane). Check in was okay but it would of helped if our guy had spoken even a little english. It was a pleasure to learn that because we were with Air Canada we got a free safe key and one extra ala carte.

Rooms:
We were in room 20202 which is your standard room and it was nice. The usual comforts, A/C (only when the sliding door is closed) fan, miny bar etc. We didn't have any problems with the number of towels or getting the bar restocked and our room was always cleaned in a timely manner. Although our travel agent requested an "ocean front view" we couldn't of been further from the water if we tried. Our room backed on the the new construction and driveway for some sort of deliveries. Each morning all too early we were awoken by this huge machine that was driving pillers into the ground and an earth mover with a very loud back up beeper.

Restaurants and Bars:
Thanks god for the 4 specialty restaurants!! For the past 2 years we have gone to the Mayan (Gran Bahia Principe Tulum) and found the buffets wonderful with great variety and quality. This buffet sucked! For the first 4 days the bacon was so raw I felt it was unsafe to eat. The "cook" just tossed handfulls of bacon into the frying pan and lightly cooked the outside pieces then put it out for consumption. The inside 6 or 7 pieces were still raw. The scrambled eggs were almost unrecognizable due to the amount of water in them. The omelette cook was the saving grace although several people asked him to cook their eggs a little longer as well. The fresh juices were very nice and the fruit was to die for. I found the lunch buffet was the best of all with a lot more variety than even the dinner buffet. The open air snack bar was nice but it seemed to have the same choices every day. I personally have no complaints about the food at the specialty restaurants (I had steak 3 of 4 nights) but like another review that I read my wife and I did feel that we were rushed. If we ate at the speed the food was coming out we would of been in and out in less than 30 minutes. The drinks were plentiful and the El Presente cold. My wife drank Banana Dacaries and with a different maker came a different taste, some drinkable and some not. Like other reviews I also recommend taking a large travel mug as the cups are small and horrible for this beautiful islands landfills.

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
My wife and I also agree with the other reviews that the 2 pools are much too small. Why do people "reserve" the pool chairs and then don't show up until noon to use them? The animation team was interesting....I'm not sure if it was their lack of real energy that made them so annoying or if they were just really annoying as a rule, but my vote is for imported professionals. The quiet pool was tucked away from the beach and when we finally found it, it was just that, quiet. Again a very small pool with it's own bar and maybe 25 chairs. I with we'd found it on the first day and not the last.
The beach was breath taking, miles of nothing but palm trees, beautiful sand and colourful waters. Each day we would walk the beach and be totally alone. The snorkeling was great although our weather wasn't the best as it was very windy and wavy which churned up the sand but we did see a great number of fish. At the resort on the beach we found an over abundance of beach chairs and didn't have any problem finding shade (although 4 of 7 days were cloudy, but you can't help the weather and at least it wasn't snow). The grounds were well cared for the there were always works tending to it.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Our activities at the resort were confined to the beautiful beach, snorkeling and people watching. We did go on 2 outings, first was the horse back ride to the waterfall which consisted of a 30 minute bus ride to a really nice spot where we were given a "typical" Dominican lunch of chicken, rice, beans and bread which I found really nice. Then we were size matched to our horses and assigned a personal guide that walk/ran beside us for almost the entire 40 minute ride up and back from the waterfall. These guides were really nice people who made sure the horses behaved. The trip through the mountains and foothills was wonderful and definately one of my highlightsl. The waterfall was a welcome and refreshing site but not what I imagined from the pictures. The pool was quite small and the water very turbulant. Only 3 people of 25 went in. At the beginning of the ride a young guy who speaks French,English and German explained to use about the poverty (that I had witnessed first hand already)in the area and asked that if we pleased a tip would be appreciated. At the end of the trip I didn't see one guide with their hands out which I really appreciated. My wife and I both gave our guides $10us which we felt the truly deserved after just walk/running up and down the mountain, as well as help people up and down the very steep steps to actually access the waterfall. I was appauled at a fellow Canadian the boasted at giving $2 and buying her guide a beer.

Other Comments:
Overall good holiday, but we will not be going back there anytime soon.

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"The resort was just great for what we paid."

Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo
User Rating:  Gran Bahia Príncipe El Portillo Review: 4.5 of 5

Posted by:  Denise from Maple, ON  on Jan 1, 2009  >  2 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Jan, 2009
448 people found this review helpful

Arrival: Jan 4 - 11, 2009
Air Canada flight down. No delays, cleared customs quickly and then directed to the bus. The drive to the hotel was about 1 1/2 hours through a beautiful mountain terrain. We left Toronto at 8:30 and we in our room by 3:00 p.m.

Rooms:
We were in Villa 2. Excellent location. Close to the beach, restaurants, etc. Clean, spacious, no problems. We requested a 2nd floor, king bed and that's what we got. Because we flew AC the safety deposit box was free. As well, if you take your own laptop they have wireless in the reception area and you don't have to pay for internet connection. Nice to send e-mails home when you want.

Restaurants and Bars:
We tried all 4 al a cartes. Nothing special but just fine. The buffet was good. Always something there. The staff are a little slow at removing the plates but so what...you are on holiday!!!

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
Small pool, not much going on....the beach however is stunning. We have travelled extensively throughout the Caribbean and it was one of the nicest. You can walk for miles on floury golden sand and crystal clear water. There is a reef right off the beach and we saw many fish while snorkeling. We had issues with the sand fleas (numerous bites) but we seemed to be the only ones. No one else we talked to complained. The grounds are beautiful. Well maintained, lush...beats the snow back home

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We did the El Limon Waterfall tour. My first time on a horse (bucket list). After a very pleasant drive to the ranch we were given a horse then rode through some beautiful but rocky terrain. Climbing down to the falls was a little arduous but we did it. My husband swam while I took pictures and then back up the mountain to get back on the horse. We had a delicious Dominican lunch and were back to the hotel by 12:30, just in time for a drink and siesta. The only issues I had was my screaming thighs for 4 days afterwards but I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Other Comments:
As mentioned we have been to the Dominican numerous times (Punta Cana, La Romana, Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo) and all through Cuba, Mexico and many islands in the Caribbean and found that this hotel was good mainly because of the beach and there is not another hotel for miles unlike Punta Cana. The hotel could be a 5 star if some small issues were looked after but if you want a stunning beach, good food and some R&R this is the place. The resort was just great for what we paid (sell off). If you are looking for those little extra's then you should considering spending considerable more money and go the Levantado or a Sandals!!! We don't typically go to the same place twice but we might make an exception! denisepratt@hotmail.com

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