Playa Arena Gorda, Punta Cana, Dominican Repúblic.
Welcome to paradise to the umpteenth degree, where luxury is a standard. Five-star doesn't begin to describe Iberostar Grand hotel Bavaro. It's an adults-only resort where the very best is included. From the "Grand Star Service" with butlers at your beck and call to a concierge service that'll make you a reservation at one of the four a la carte restaurants. And the wow-factor doesn't stop there.
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Posted by: Debbie and Pat
on Dec 11, 2012 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Dec, 2012 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
628 people found this review helpful
We stayed at the Iberostar Grand Bavaro from November 26 December 3, 2012.
We purchased our package through Transat Holidays, and flew Club Class to Punta Cana. Our package included private transportation to the hotel, which was nice. The only thing I didnt like was that we were sent out into the parking lot at the airport, in the dark, with our luggage, to look for our cab number! The package also included entry to the Premium Lounge in Toronto and the lounge at Punta Cana airport (lounge in Punta Cana only included one rum drink, any other alcoholic drinks you had to pay for soft drinks and bottled water were free. Not much in the way of snacks, a couple bowls of dip with a plate of stale bread, a dish of walnuts, a dish of black olives, and a dish of green olives).
The hotel is about a 30 minute drive from the airport. Upon arrival we were checked in, and the bellboy accompanied us to our room. We had asked for a 4th floor room, but none were available. We were given a second floor room, but with an upgrade to pool/ocean view, and it was a great location. The hotel is built in a u shape. This is a smaller property with only 272 rooms. The lobby area and décor around the hotel is fantastic.
The room was very nice, not as large as some weve had, but still plenty of room. The bathroom was nice, with a separate shower and toilet area, and at the other end a large Jacuzzi tub, with windows all around, and shades that could be lowered for privacy when taking a bath. The balcony was also very nice and private, and had a small setee in addition to a table and 2 chairs. Suggest you request a room that faces inward, otherwise you are overlooking the next-door Iberostar property. Exception would be swim-out rooms, which do face outwards toward the neighbouring property.
There is free wifi in the rooms, which was nice. We had a problem with it the second day, it was very slow, but we asked the butler and he came in and reset the router and it was fine for the rest of the week. Not too many English TV channels, we got CNN, ABC, and some sports channels, that was about it.
Maid service was good, we requested morning maid service and the room was always cleaned by noon, except for the Saturday (lots of checkouts and arrivals). There was turn-down service every night, and they did another cleanup, clean towels, etc. and would light a potpourri burner in your room each night. (Also had them in the halls, nicest smelling hotel Ive ever been to).
We didnt arrive until 10 p.m. Shortly after we got to our room, our butler arrived to explain how everything worked and note any requests we had for the minibar, reservations, etc. He assisted us in ordering from room service (our order arrived in about 20 minutes!), and came back shortly after leaving with the slips for our restaurant reservations. I had emailed my request for reservations a week before our arrival and they had already been made. There are a number of butlers at the hotel, you wont necessarily always have the same one (we never saw this one again after the first night), but there is always someone on hand to help you with anything you require. They are usually outside of the restaurant in the morning, or you can walk down to the concierge desk that is in each building.
Restaurants and Bars:
Bar service is excellent around the pool and beach, they are always coming around asking if you want something. The pool also has a swim-up bar.
Food was good, but not outstanding. I think they could do a better job of identifying what things are. There are dozens and dozens of dishes, but few are labelled. They put a lot of things out in small quantities, which is good for freshness, but I found some items could/should have been hotter.
There is the main buffet restaurant which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, a beach restaurant open for lunch, and 4 specialty restaurants. You can also go to any of the restaurants at the other Iberostar resorts.
We had lunch at the beach restaurant half the time, the main restaurant the other half. If you didnt see what you liked, you could get fish/steak/chops grilled to order while you waited. Lots of seafood lobster, crab legs, clams, shrimp, etc.
The buffet restaurant had a different theme each night Dominican, Italian, Chinese, International, Mexican, Caribbean, etc. We only had dinner there twice, as we had reservations at the a la carte restaurants.
There is a surf and turf restaurant, gourmet restaurant, Italian restaurant, and Japanese Restaurant. We found the surf and turf restaurant to be the best, then the Japanese, then the Italian (although the service here was slow). Neither of us enjoyed the gourmet restaurant at all.
The grounds of this hotel are beautiful and it sits on a gorgeous section of beach. We have stayed at a number of the top hotels in Punta Cana, and this one seems to have the best features of each. First of all it is kept spotlessly clean. There are washrooms everywhere. Beach chairs and palapas are plentiful, no problem getting a spot on the beach any time of the day. Lots of bali beds around the pool area, those do tend to fill up quicker, but they are lovely. We split our time between the pool and the beach.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Activities They have all the usual activities during the day archery, air gun, yoga, tai chi, dance lessons, Spanish lessons, aerobics, ping pong, volleyball, soccer, etc. The Star Friends will come around and ask if youd like to participate, but if you say no they leave you alone.
Entertainment - they have music in the evenings, at the lobby bar or on the boat. There is also a nightly show, although we never made it to those, as they didnt start until 10 p.m., past our bedtime after a day on the beach. This is not a party hotel, all is quiet after 11:00 p.m. You also have the option of going to any of the other Iberostar hotels next to this one (there are 3).
Shopping there are vendors on the beach just to the right, also a few hotel shops. There is also a free shuttle to another shopping area about 25 minutes away.
The staff at this hotel are absolutely outstanding! Id name names, but I dont want to forget anyone, suffice to say we didnt have one negative experience. Be sure to take lots of $1s for tipping!
Weather was pretty good while we were there. A little cloudy a couple of days, and rain late afternoon or overnight most days, but nice and warm.
In summary, this is a hotel we would return to. Everything seems to work there. Fantastic staff and service!
5 plus stars.
"Great Destination for a Memorable Vacation!"
Posted by: Kris
on Dec 7, 2011 >
1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Dec, 2011 | Leisure | Family and Kids
1007 people found this review helpful
My 27 year old daughter and I are very close but live in different cities and we were looking for somewhere to take a "just the two of us" girl's trip and we settled on Punta Cana. After much research we settled on the IberoStar Grand Bavaro and boy am I glad we did!
Room Number: We were in Room 7284
Oceanview Room located on the 3rd floor above the ell of the building where the restaurants and shops are. We loved this location as we never had far to walk to get to food, pool, beach or lobby.
We booked through Apple and arranged for a private transfer from the airport to the resort. Arrival at airport was a little confusing as we were not sure if someone would be greeting us with a sign; we eventually figured out we needed to bypass the crowd and head over to the Apple counter. The private transfer fee was not much and I recommend it. We didn't have to stop at other resorts along the way, and we arrived at our resort ahead of the rest so check-in was a breeze.
Speaking of check in, porters greeted our van upon arrival, unloaded luggage and escorted us to lobby. The entryway to the resort is quite impressive, very large, well decorated and very clean. While checking in we were greeted with smiles, relatively good English explanations; and most importantly, a welcoming cocktail. Our rooms were ready so we were taken there right away. We were pleased to notice the up-to-date decorating and cleanliness in the common areas.
Our room was wonderful. Tastefully decorated and full of amenities. Immediately after our arrival our butler came to greet us and give us the run down on reservations and activities. We only saw our butler once after that, but to be fair we didn't call upon him for assistance but one time through the trip. We got the feeling that they would respond quickly when needed, but follow-through on anything challenging might or might not happen. Example: we had problems connecting to the internet in our room and called the butler. He tried to help us for about 10 minutes and then said he would work on it and get back to us. He never got back to us until we happened upon him at the breakfast buffet and he asked if we were still having troubles. We had already decided that not having internet access was a blessing after all so we just told him all was good.
Our room was big enough for the two of us, but there could have been more storage space for clothing and toiletries. We made do, it was not a big deal and it didn't ruin our trip by any means, we adjusted. The housekeeping staff did a fantastic job servicing our room. We always had plenty of fresh towels, including facecloths, and the room was tidied a couple of times a day and then turn down service was provided each night.
The mini-bar was fully stocked when we arrived, and on the first day we took out the sodas and beers we did not like and left a note asking for more of the kinds we did and every day after that we had exactly what we wanted.
The balcony of the ocean view room was very enjoyable. It held a small couch, a table and two chairs. We spent most of our late afternoons on the balcony, enjoying a glass of wine, reading a book or playing games.
The bathroom was adequate. Not as much counter space as we are used to, but again, we made due. The supplied hair dryer left a lot to be desired so if you have a decent travel one you should bring it with you. Also, we found that the only outlet in our room that worked was in the bathroom, but again, we made due. The glass windows in the bathroom afforded a beautiful view, but don't be fooled by the privacy shades at night, they don't exactly block view into the bathrooms. Not a problem for us because we were on the 3rd floor and did not use the Jacuzzi tub. I avoid using the tub in a 2nd floor room at night. The toiletry items provided were of good quality and great appreciated.
Restaurants and Bars:
Upon arrival our butler explained the ala carte restaurants and since we had already done our research on the internet we opted to book reservations directly with the concierge. I was a bit disappointed with the limited availability of the reservations. I had called the hotel prior to arrival to request reservations but was told reservations couldn't be booked until arrival. For our first night, we were able to only get a reservation into the Japanese Steakhouse, at their latest reservation time. We were never able to get a reservation to the Surf & Turf restaurant, it was completely booked the entire time we were there. We did try everything else, here is a summary of our experiences.
Room Service - Ordered breakfast one day and a snack another day. Menu selection was good, turn around time was adequate. Quality of food acceptable.
Breakfast Buffet - Good variety. Made to order egg station was good. Tip for you, there are 2 stations, go to the one in the back of the place, it is less crowded and you will get your eggs quicker. I suggest you make a lap around the place on your first day so you can see all your options. The wait staff was very friendly, the hostess seated us in the same section each day and the wait staff quickly got to know our coffee and juice preferences.
Lunch - We never did go to the lunch buffet, we spent our days on the beach and chose to eat at the Pool area buffet. They had a variety of hot foods, cold meats and hamburgers/hot dogs cooked to order. Burgers were great, hot dogs left a lot to be desired. Their salad options left a little to be desired, but not to the point it ruined our lunch experience.
Japanese Steakhouse - Our favorite of the ala carte restaurants. Each table seats 6 so it is a great way to meet people. The shrimp tempura appetizer was excellent, if you go be sure to try it. The steak, chicken and shrimp dinners were all excellent.
Italian - We did not love this place or hate it, it was just kind of in-between for us. Don't go if you are expecting traditional red sauce spaghetti and meatballs or lasagna. The menu items are a little on the eclectic side. Not our favorite, but glad we tried it.
Gourmet - We did not enjoy this at all. Very limited menu and nothing we tried made us go WOW. If anything it was just the opposite. We went into it with a higher expectation that we should have I guess. I would have been just as happy to have eaten at the dinner buffet that night.
La Cana Steakhouse at the Iberostar Bavaro - Because we couldn't get into the Surf & Turf place we chose to go over to one of the neighboring resorts for dinner one night to get a steak. The Bavaro is definitely not on the same level as the Grand, but we enjoyed our meal all the same. La Cana is an outdoor place, set in the sand, so that was a neat experience. The steak and salmon were well prepared, the service was good and we were taken over and back in a golf cart, which was nice.
We spent our first full day at the pool, after that we spent our days on the beach. Don't get me wrong, the pool is great, but the ocean view combined with the breeze is what sold us on the beach. At first glance it appears there are plenty of pool chaises, but you need to get out there pretty early in the morning (7:30) in order to get pool chaises or beach loungers in ideal locations.
The pool area is very clean, and the pool itself is large and enjoyable. There is a swim up bar in the main pool, but we never swam up so can't comment on the service.
There are plenty of resort staff in the pool and beach area to offer drinks and share upcoming activities. They didn't pressure us to join activities, just offered and smiled when we said no thank you. We enjoyed walking on the beach, but did find the vendors in one direction to be pesky so we just always walked the other way after that first time.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We didn't participate in any of the activities as we were aiming for a very low-key relaxed vacation. We did witness a number of people at the activities and everyone seemed to be having a good time. The one thing we did was attend one of the entertainment shows, an American Rock Show. It was fun! Don't go if you are expecting rock cover bands from the states. Go if you are looking for a bit of amusement and music.
I would recommend this resort to anyone going to Punta Cana. I had read previous reviews and some of the things that I thought we would encounter we did not (such as language barrier, less than top-notch service, and bugs). We were so impressed with how kind and friendly all of the staff were. The pictures of the resort on the Iberostar website don't do it justice, it is a beautiful property. If I were planning another trip to Punta Cana I would definitely go back.
"Great place, but they didn't sweat the details, not quite up to 5 star!"
Posted by: john
on Jul 3, 2011 >
1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Jun, 2011 | Leisure | Solo
1185 people found this review helpful
I loved this place, but most of the time I felt that they weren't really into getting things 100% right. It was kind of like 85% was okay. In my book to be a 5 star facility you must get it right, wherein the guest is never left feeling like the staff could have done better. This was the case so many times - maybe 6 times in 4 days - did I have something that wasn't right, and could have EASILY been done right in the first place. Don't get me wrong... the building and the people were awesome! Food was good to great and plenty of it. nice beach. I probably would go back, but maybe let them know that I expect 5 star service upon check in. Package says a cocktail upon arrival... no one gave me or offered a cocktail, and this kind of thing keep happening until finally my breakfast order being wrong on my departure morning. ARRGGHH!
Posted by: John
on Feb 11, 2011 >
2 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Feb, 2011 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
1306 people found this review helpful
We had the pleasure of spending 2 weeks at the Grand from Jan 27th till Feb 10th. Flew through Air Canada and flight was wonderful with no complaints. Typical confusion and rush at airport but once in Air Canada Bus to hotel all good. We at the Grand let off first so it took about 30 minutes to get there.
Before we left I e-mailed the hotel saying we arrive on my wife`s birthday. So when checking and greeted with champagne they stated room would not be ready for 15 minutes. The whole time they were winking at me. Bellhop comes over and says its ready and off we go. Walked into room with balloon, champagne being chilled in a bucket and a personal chocolate cake for my wife. She was floored.
Henry our butler shows up and explains the room and books dinner for us for the first 4 nights. He was great and actually I forgot my I-Phone Charger and explained it to him. The next day he delivered one to the room for me to use for two weeks. What else can you say but thank you.
Greeted with smiles and champagne.
Room was fine as a touch on the small side. Storage for clothes and shoes are fine and mini bar is stocked upon arrival. Left a note in minibar for Coronna and the next day fully stocked.
When taking a bath or shower you may want to lower the blinds hint hint.
The oceanview balconies are huge. Two lounges, table, two small chairs and another table. Lots and lots of room. View was great from second floor and no complaints whatsoever.
Restaurants and Bars:
Japanese: Went twice and it was a good way to meet others as seating is for 6. Food was fine.
Gourmet: Went once and fine.
Surf & Turf: Was good and went once.
Italian: Went once and had the snapper which was great. Small portion so headed to buffet for diner. LOL.
Evening Buffet: went 9 times after we did the above. Loved the service, the selection and one has to go to the pasta area for them to make you your custom sauce. Go and you will see and five nights in a row I did this and it was top notch. I actually went behind and shook the chefs hand to thank him and you would think he died and gone to heaven that someone would do that.
Lobby bar was nice for pre-dinner and post dinner drinks.
Pool Bar: It was quiet during the morning and early afternoon but picked up about 3pm and bingo is played at 4pm so many sitting at bar play it. Got lively and met some great folks.
We spent our days at the beach and if your a people watcher its a must do. Lounges are great and plenty of shade if required. The first row lounges go early. People do go down early to reserve and then head to get something to eat. No big deal.
Pool was different. Seems everyone preferred the pool but way to hot there for me as the beach had a great breeze. Key lounges reserved early so be there by 7:30.
One thing I did notice was some couples having towels at beach and key lounges at the pool. No comment here as everyone is different.
If are leaving your lounge for the day please remove your towel as I noticed people leaving and others coming down and no where to sit.
Grounds are spotless as crews out every morning cleaning and grooming.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We only did Mike`s half day tour and this tour is not to be missed. Had the pleasure of having Mike show us around. Saw the kids at school who we spoiled with goodies, pens, toothbrushes etc. Also it seems Mike likes Tootsie Rolls.
Mike did mention they really need notebooks. Knowing these are heavy in your luggage is probably why the have a shortage.
The most important thing I learned from this vacation is the people. Always smiling, always wanting to help you. Smile at them and you have a friend for life. This is very tough to put into words but when you walk into either buffet for example smile at them and you will receive 10 smiles in return. Must be experienced to believe.
The Star Friends who work the hotel to ensure the guests are having a good time have a tough job. The Grand demographics is a touch older and no kids so this make the job tougher. They really do mean well and want you to participate in activities. They are watched by supervisors to make sure they ARE talking to guests. Please remember it is there means of making a living and try hard. If they drop by and say Hola smile and give them a few minutes of your time.
Pedro actually thanked me my last day for spending my vacation time with him as it made his day as well.
Casandra, Petro (my adopted son) and the cutie Margarita will make your days at the beach at pool a time to remember if you allow them.
Please excuse any typos or errors in grammar but lacking a Presidente at this moment.
Posted by: Rebecca
on Jan 22, 2011 >
1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Jan, 2011 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
1300 people found this review helpful
Maid: Make sure all articles of clothing and shoes are accounted for daily! Items may be hidden in your room (a sure way for you to forget your possessions and leave them behind).
Butler: We carried our own luggage to our room on arrival. A specific request was made on three separate occasions; we were assured each time the request would be fulfilled; never happened.
Ground Transportation: Communication between the tour group we booked with and the hotel regarding pick up from the airport and departure to the airport was nonexistent.
We carried our own luggage to our room on arrival.
Room location: Room balcony faced the neighboring hotels storage buildings and golf cart service roads.
Restaurants and Bars:
Food: I have read many poor reviews regarding the food, but really, the food was well prepared. I feel the variety of food is poor, but not the quality. The hundreds of flies grazing on the lunch buffet were unappetizing.
Some of the pool areas appear to be in need of repair.
Entertainment: The worst renditions of American musicals I have ever heard or seen (not a compliment to the American culture and arts). It would have been nice to have seen and heard about the culture and arts of the DR.
Serenity and relaxation while in the room: The ground(s) keepers, maids and staff lacked consideration of their guest(s) and the purpose of their visit. It has been my experience while visiting other resorts that the staff is very discreet while cleaning and working in the hotel and on the grounds.
I am of the opinion, this is NOT a 4 or a 5 Star resort; I would place it at a high 3 Star. I do not recommend this location if you desire good service, rest, relaxation or entertainment.
jo on Aug 27, 2010 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Apr, 2010 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
1441 people found this review helpful
quiet luxurious surroundings manager and staff go out of their way to please you.food is excellent for dominican infact all iberostars there the food is very good.
room wasnt ready uppm arrival a minus
beautiful stocked mini fridge most comfortable beds
Restaurants and Bars:
excellent food ate way too much
very nice pools beach always find a spot
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
the activities were not the strong part of resort but we like to relax watch tv video in room
"An incredible experience."
Rich from N.J. on Oct 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Oct, 2009
1290 people found this review helpful
Arrival: SEPTEMBER 17- 23RD
Arrival was swift and easy.
Room was very nice. Great shower, tub, view and bed.
Restaurants and Bars:
Lobby, pool and lunch pavillion. Dinner buffet and steak, Japanese, Italian. Japeanese was best, tho all very good.
Beautiful, beautiful and more beautiful.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
No tours, beach was so nice we never wanted to leave.
An incredible experience. Allinclusive is the way to go. The folks who work at the Grand are terrific and all needs we met and / or exceeded.
"We enjoyed our vacation at this resort."
Carol on Mar 1, 2009 >
Visited on: Mar, 2009
1298 people found this review helpful
We stayed at Iberostar Grand Bavaro from Feb 20 to Feb 27 2009.
This is our 21st all-inclusive and our 9th time to Punta Cana. I always like to know where others have stayed so I know what they are comparing so here are some other resorts we have been to recently: Excellence Punta Cana (EPC), Iberostar Grand Paraiso (IGP), Sandals Whitehouse (SW) in Jamaica, Excellence Playa Mujeres (EPM), Grand Lido Negril (GLN) and Royal Cancun. IGP and EPC and now this one are our favorite resorts to date.
One observation before I continue with descriptions. This resort is really not similar to the Grand Paraiso in Mexico at all. It has the same restaurants and menus and that seems to be where the similarities stop. A person coming to this resort would be best to treat it as a new resort and not with expectations associated with The Grand Paraiso, this is after all The Dominican and not Mexico.
Overview: The resort is a square with the ocean forming one side. The pools, gardens, grounds, restaurants, bars are all in the interior of the square. There are also rooms opening on to the back of the two sides of the squares. These rooms would have no view except of surrounding resorts. This includes the swim up rooms. The swim up rooms are on the backside of the side which faces the next resort over the Iberostar Bavaro. The swim up rooms are somewhat sheltered by bushes that would offer some privacy. The canal of water is just that a rectangular body of water that connects all the swim up rooms but does not flow into anything. When I saw the pictures prior to arriving I was thinking I would prefer these to ocean view but after seeing them I would not have wanted these rooms. The swim up rooms would be good if you prefer to hang around your room and not people watch or view much. There are very few ocean front rooms so doubt there will be much upgrading. The ocean front rooms are not the same here as Mexico as they do not sit on the sandy beach. The lower level rooms would not have much of a view as they are quite far back and there are buildings etc that would block the view. (I have provided a link at the end of this review to pictures. Photo 25 show the ocean front rooms and photo 26 show the view from the lower levels). The higher floored ocean front rooms would have gorgeous views of the beach and ocean.
Our room was room 7349 which was a perfect location for us. We were on the top floor, across from the ocean so we had a view of the courtyard, grounds, pools and the ocean beyond. Gorgeous!! (Photo 12, 13 and 34 are views from our room) The rooms are much smaller than Mexicos. There is no couch area, only a futon. This did not bother us as we sat on the balcony whenever we were in the room. The bathroom was disappointing. Grand Paraiso had one of the nicest bathrooms I have ever seen at a resort. I loved the French doors and the his and her vanities on either end of the bathroom. We had lots of space and vanity area in Mexico. This one is very small in comparison. There are two sinks but they are very close together with next to no counter space. The view was phenomenal from our bathroom even from the toilet, shower and bathtub. There are electric blinds for privacy but we didnt need them being on the 4th floor. Our butler came to the room immediately and with very good English explained everything we needed to know. He asked what we wanted in our mini fridge and when we asked for white wine it was brought immediately. The room had everything else we needed. There were snacks provided which were Pringles chips, nuts and some banana chips. Everything was replenished as required. The bed is one of the most comfortable beds we have had. There is not much for shelves and there are only two drawers in each of the night stands. We pack lightly but found the space limited. There was no net of any kind in our room but there are free to use computers in a separate room and wireless available around the lobby areas. Housecoats, slippers, pillow menu, clock radio by the bed, iron and board and a table for room service. Teak deck with two basket chairs, a small couch and clothesline finished off the balcony. There was a fruit basket when we arrived. The air could be set at whatever we wanted but goes off when you leave the room so does take a few minutes to cool down when entering. Also the ceiling fan was not directly over the bed. One thing we found was the only outlet in the whole room that worked for us was the one in the bathroom. Even the iron provided would only plug into the bathroom outlet. We had to be a little organized as between cameras, razors, curling irons etc this plug was in constant use. We had a Miami newspaper delivered most days and fresh ice was delivered daily.
The Grand is very compact and if we did not have access to the other resorts we would have found it alone to confining. Everything in this resort is just a few minutes walk away. This Grand is not as large as the one in Mexico. With three other resorts to explore we never seemed to take the same path twice. We walked a lot and on every outing found things we had not found before. There are many different types of birds throughout the other resorts not to mention the beautiful grounds. We nosed around the Grand probably places we shouldnt have been and did find unfinished rooms. These really have to be sought out and from all outward appearance it seems construction has been completed. The resort requires a year or so to mature but all the plantings are there and will be very beautiful when they have grown a bit. The infinity pool in Mexico seems grander to us overlooking the beach. This was not a concern though as we spent all our days on the beautiful Bavaro beach.
We have been to Punta Cana many times so knew what to expect, absolutely beautiful. There are no rocks here and very little seaweed. The actual beach area could have used some more sand in places but we saw sand being brought in while we were there. The water is the exact opposite of Grand Lido Negril. GLN was very calm and one could easily float or swim, this beach had waves the whole week and on a couple days they were quite playful. We like to play in the waves so again this was not a concern. If I want to swim laps I usually go to a pool. The beach is very busy with lots of people walking by especially since the flea market is adjacent to the resort. We did not have any vendors bothering us on the beach. There was never a problem finding chairs in either the shade or sun.
I cant comment on the pools as we spent all our time on the beach. There were not any floats available at the time we were here.
Staff and housekeeping:
We never had problems with any services except breakfast (explained later). Our room was very clean, fresh towels daily, mini bar and snacks replenished. All employees were very friendly. We had turn down service where fresh towels were brought and chocolates were put out. We were on occasion offered drinks on the beach and a couple times cold towels. Neither of these events were regular.
We have never had a problem with communication at any resort previously. We are quite easy going and do not require much maintenance. In the past if we have required something we have been able to make it known. We did have problems at the breakfast buffet. The first morning we didnt see the egg station at first and asked an employee, the reply was no English. The second day we asked for hard cooked eggs and were taken to the butter. We gave up and ate what we saw after that. We did think it a little strange that the word egg would not be recognized. Not many of the employees speak much English but this didnt bother us. Besides these two incidents service was good.
Sun, sun and more sun. Everyday was gorgeous. Hot in the sun and cool under a shade hut on the beach. Our last morning we woke up to rain but cleared to cloudy by the time we were ready for breakfast, before noon the clouds had blown away and we were back into sun again.
Gym and Spa:
We visited these two areas while walking one day. The spa looked very nice but I did not partake in any of their services. The gym is above the spa and on a quick walk through looked like it had very nice equipment and a waterfront view. There is a schedule with activities happening all day long from yoga to arobics to group type sports.
As I already mentioned our butler gave us a good orientation the first day. He got us a bottle of wine and tried to make reservations but was told all the a la cartes were full. This was a real downer as our first evening we had to eat at the buffet and we are not buffet fans. He did offer to arrange reservations at one of the adjoining resorts but we booked the Grand to be away from kids so we opted out. We did not see him again but in his defence we are very low maintenance and made our restaurant reservations through the concierge. We never had reason to call him.
For all meals we had good service. The tablecloths were replaced after each occupant nice not to have stains and crumbs from the previous diners. The a la cartes are air conditioned and smoke free. We love to eat steak and lobster and both these were in abundance at both lunch and dinners. The theatre is air conditioned.
I will skip over this meal as the service was good and the buffet had everything we wanted. Besides the lack of any English it was fine. I know I will be crucified for mentioning English while in Punta Cana but as I said we never had a problem communicating our few needs before. As another reviewer mentioned the buffets are not labelled in any way so figuring out what some of the items are is a challenge.
We had only one buffet to choose from for lunch. It was quite small and not a lot of choices. We missed not having a la carte like Mexico because as I have mentioned we prefer to order from menus. Fri and Sat the buffet was a zoo. We had to wait for a table, wait for service and stand in line ups for food. There was a conference that cleared out on Sun and thank goodness the rest of the week the buffet was much calmer, quieter and the service was better. There were even grill lobster tails on the lunch buffet. We walked over to the resort next to ours, Iberostar Bavaro and there was a larger buffet with anything you could imagine available. There were no ice cream bars at the Grand but there was regular ice cream. In the adjourning resorts there were ice cream shacks and soft ice cream.
We tried all 4 al la cartes. I mentioned our first dinner was a buffet as the a la cartes were full. When we tried to reserve for Wed we were told all the a la cartes were closed with no further explanation. This was hard to overlook as buffet for breakfast and lunch were two to many and now to add a buffet for supper as well. Again we were offered reservations at one of the other resorts so the decision had to be made which was the better of the evils buffet or kids with a sit down meal. Two things that are very important to us on vacation is a nice beach and sit down served dinners. This is a big two thumbs down that at least one a la carte would not be available.
We enjoyed our vacation at this resort. There definitely are a few things that need ironing out but it has only been opened a few months. I would return to this resort as we love Punta Cana and we search for adult only. I would also return to Iberostar Grand Paraiso as besides the rocky beach we enjoyed that resort. We have also been to Excellence and I would recommend that resort for anyone looking for an adult only. Excellence offered different services than this one. I havent yet returned to a resort because I like to experience new resorts and new areas but this will go on the list as a possibility.
I have posted some pictures that can be found at http://tinyurl.com/d2v569
"This resort is truly a rising star."
Steve & Vicki from Bloomington, Indiana on Mar 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Mar, 2009
1326 people found this review helpful
We booked the Iberostar Grand back in October 2008 for the period of March 14 21. We had visited the IB Grand Paraiso in Mexico in December 2007 and fell in love with all aspects (other than the beach) of this lovely resort. We couldnt wait to visit the new Grand on Bavaro because we are beach people and find the Bavaro beach to be one of the best in the Caribbean.
For reference, this was our twelfth visit to Punta Cana. We have also stayed at the Barcelo Bavaro Palace, Excellence, Grand Palladium Bavaro, Royal Suites Turquesa by Grand Palladium, Iberostar Bavaro, and the old Sunscape Punta Cana Grand (now the Oasis resorts).
We have also visited Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cancun, Riviera Maya, Cozumel, Barbados, St. Lucia, Grenada, Aruba, Margarita Island, Curacao, and Maui Hawaii.
Flight and Arrival:
We flew scheduled air on United Airlines from Indianapolis to PUJ with a plane change at Dulles, Washington, DC. Flights were on time and uneventful. No charge for up to two checked bags per traveler with a 50-pound weight limit per bag on United for international travel. No food served on the flight from Dulles to PUJ; however, snack boxes were available for purchase of $6.00 US.
On the return trip, however, the plane was two hours late arriving in Punta Cana because of a mechanical problem. Our late arrival into Dulles resulted in our missing the connecting flight to Indianapolis, and naturally it was the last flight of the day to IND. We ended up spending the night in Washington, D.C. and arriving home at 6 p.m. the following day. We shouldnt complain, however, because the folks who were on the flight with us and were trying to get back to Kansas City, were told that they could not get there on any airline until Tuesday, March 24!
We arrived at PUJ at the same time as several other flights. As a result, the line for purchase of the $10 US tourist visa and immigration clearance was long and moved rather slowly. It took at least ˝ hour. People kept jumping and cutting in line ahead of us. This is a result of the queue lanes being too wide. They should narrow these roped off lanes down to the width of two people in order to prevent this from happening.
Luggage retrieval was also slow. It took at least another ˝ hour after clearing immigration for our luggage to finally appear on the conveyor. A lot of people were starting to panic because they thought that their luggage had not made it. We reassured several folks that it was not unusual to have a long wait for luggage. Eventually, most if not all of the luggage showed up.
VIP Tour Services provided coach transfer to the resort. We had no problem locating the VIP tour rep. They stand out in their bright yellow shirts. We were immediately escorted to the air-conditioned bus by a VIP rep. The bus was comfortable. Some people waiting on the bus were complaining about their lengthy wait prior to departing the airport; however, based on our experience, we thought it was about an average time. Transfer time to the resort was approximately 20 minutes. Our resort was the first stop for the bus.
We were greeted upon arrival at the resort with a chilled, moist, scented towel and our choice of either a pińa colada or champagne. Check-in was fast and easy. We were upgraded to an ocean-view room (our TA had mentioned on the booking that we were returning Iberostar guests and requested that we be upgraded).
On the day of our arrival, occupancy seemed to be low. Perhaps 100 guests or so. On Monday however, a number of guests were bumped up from the Iberostar Bavaro to the Grand because the IB Bavaro was overbooked with a large convention from Grupo LG Espańa. I would estimate that there were probably 350 guests there the rest of the week. The spots by the pool were pretty much taken for the rest of the week.
We were assigned room 7360 on the south corner of the top floor of the center building in the horseshoe layout of the three buildings. The view was gorgeous, overlooking the lagoon that harbors the Spanish Galleon sailing ship, the pool, and the ocean beyond.
The room was just as the photos in previous reviews depicted. Although not quite as large as the room we had at the IB Grand Paraiso in Mexico, it was still a luxurious room and was quite sufficient to meet our needs. There are individual reading lamps on either side of the king bed. The bed faced the slider leading out to the balcony so that if we had chosen, we could have awakened to the view of the ocean each morning.
The bathroom had dual sinks, a large marbled shower with an exquisite rain head. We always had plenty of hot water and good water pressure. There was a whirlpool tub in the front corner of the bath with windows on two sides that utilized electrically controlled shades to provide some measure of privacy. Forest Essentials brand bath toiletries by Gilchrist and Soames were provided and were replenished y housekeeping each day as needed. There was also a makeup mirror mounted on the wall. There were dispensers of both shampoo and body wash in the shower. These had a distinctly masculine odor however and the shampoo left your hair feeling like straw. Probably O.K. for most of the guys but the ladies will want to use the Forest Essentials shampoo and conditioner provided, or bring your own from home.
Linens and towels used in the room were of an extremely high quality thread count. They were specially manufactured for Iberostar at a high-end textile mill in Barcelona, Spain. Robes and slippers were also provided; however, if you are a big guy, forget these. I wear a size 12 mens shoe and the slippers covered about ˝ of one of my feet.
There was a clock radio with an ipod docking station. The mini-bar was well stocked with two types of beer, several types of soda, red and white wines, snacks including Lays brand potato chips in regular and lime flavors, plantain chips, and peanuts. There was also a large fruit bowl in our room upon check-in.
Our assigned butler met us in our room, explained all of the amenities of the room, and described his services. He pointed out the pillow menu and provided our selected pillow type. Dont really expect anything else from the butler during your stay. The instructions in the room said that if you would like to have internet access in your room to speak with your butler. We did and he said that they could provide an access point so we could use a LAN cable for internet access. We requested that such access point be provided and he said he would take care of it. We never received the access point and never heard from our butler again. Unless the butlers develop to the point that they are capable of providing the same level of service as the butlers provided at the Grand Paraiso in Mexico, it is a wasted service.
The television, a 32-inch flat panel plasma, had very few channels to chose from. It appeared that the satellite service was not functioning properly most of the time we were there.
We did have some problems with bugs in our room. They were primarily gnats but there were also a few mosquitoes. After our second day there, the staff began to spray the hallways each afternoon. The spraying did help. The reason for the existence of the bugs will be explained in the grounds section of this review.
The rooms have motion detectors built into them. After 15 minutes without motion detected in the room, the lights and air conditioning would automatically shut down. When you came back into your room after a day at the beach or pool, it would be warm but the air conditioning was extremely efficient and would cool the room back down in just a few minutes.
Housekeeping was excellent. I am convinced that the motion detectors in the rooms are tied into an annunciator panel for housekeeping. It was almost uncanny the way the housekeeping staff would never knock on the door, even when we were in the room later than usual some mornings; however, it seemed like that they were in the room cleaning within twenty minutes of the time we left the room. Towel art was frequently changed and the room was left immaculately clean. Turndown service was consistent each evening. They also seemed to take advantage of some motion detector based notification alert.
The resort is rather compact and is easy to navigate. The layout is well thought out. All of the a la carte restaurants are grouped together on the south side of the resort. The sailing ship is harbored directly in front of the a la carte restaurants. The main lake pool is located in the center of the horseshoe close to the beach. There is also a smaller activities pool located adjacent to the main pool.
The plantings are all newly planted and small but will eventually be quite beautiful. Many of the sidewalks are still a work in progress. They are poured concrete and the staff is currently in the process of laying marble, slate, and coral coverings over these poured concrete walkways. The walking surface between the a la carte restaurants and the sailing ship is a teak wood decking. Beware; sections of the walking surfaces that are finished in marble and teak wood get extremely slick when wet.
As depicted in the photographs published by previous reviewers, the Spanish Galleon sailing ship sits in a manufactured harbor. This ship provides a stage on the top deck for bands to provide live music a few evenings each week. The lower deck of the ship acts as a nightclub. There is a modern sound system and large screen TVs. Music is always playing and there is a rather annoying video of a Michaels Jackson concert that plays on the video screens incessantly.
There has been much discussion on various forums about the color of the water in the man-made harbor. The water is definitely a dirty brown as a result of a huge overgrowth of algae that has already occurred in the water. This harbor was not designed as a natural aquatic ecosystem and was poorly engineered in my opinion (I am a manufacturing engineer). There is an insufficient degree of slope in the poured concrete bottom of the harbor and adjacent lagoon. Pumps are undersized to re-circulate and filter the water in these enclosures at a rate sufficient to prevent algae overgrowth. As a result of this, there are dead pools of stagnant water that develop, especially around the peripheral edges of the lagoon. These dead pools are breeding grounds for flying insects. In the late afternoon, I could see millions of flying gnats over these stagnant pools of water. The resort is obviously acutely aware of this problem. While we were there, they completely drained the lagoon enclosure; however the harbor area was left full of stagnant water. I did not discuss this with any of the staff but I hope that they must be preparing to implement an engineering solution to this problem. Given the fact that malaria is endemic in the province of la Altagracia where Punta Cana is located, this is a serious potential health hazard that must be addressed right away. This was also a frequent topic of discussion among the guests while we were there.
Pools and Beach:
There are two pools as previously mentioned. One is a free-form pool with two whirlpool hot tubs integrated into the pool. Water temperature was comfortable and the pool was kept immaculately clean. The activity pool adjacent to the larger pool was really designed for water activities and seemed to be infrequently used while we were there.
High quality teak wood lounge chairs with thick pads and Bali beds were provided around the pool. There were quite a few cabanas with white canvas coverings to provide shade as needed. Some lounge chairs were in a very shallow portion of the pool as well. In our opinion, there were too many Bali bed cabanas and not enough with lounge chairs around the pool.
Because no towel cards are utilized, people have a tendency to leave their towels in the cabanas when they are finished and it is difficult to tell whether a particular cabana is still in use or not. Staff collects towels at the end of each day but they probably should go around more often and collect towels from those cabanas where no other personal belongings are left behind. The same is true for the palapas on the beach although they were much more readily available during our stay.
The beach is typical of Bavaro. There is a slight slope up from the water for about twenty feet and then the beach levels off into a nice flat area. There are a number of palm trees, although not as many as there are in some other areas of Bavaro. There are quite a few palapas constructed for use of guests at the Grand. The occupancy rate of the palapas was very low for the entire week. There is a need for some additional sand to be brought in for the flat area of the beach in front of and surrounding the beachfront palapas, as some sections were quite rocky.
Water is clear and the swimming area that is roped off is seaweed free with a beautiful sandy bottom and very few rocks. There was some minor wave action but it was never onerous because of the offshore coral reef that mitigates the wave action.
Vicki visited the spa once during our stay. She had a facial, which she thought was fantastic, and some sort of a seaweed body wrap, which she also enjoyed. The atmosphere was very soothing and relaxing and the staff very professional. We are not frequent spa visitors and rarely partake of the services offered at these resorts. This spa, however, seems to be as good, if not better, than any we have experienced, but seemed a bit pricey for some services.
Restaurants and Bars:
There are two buffet restaurants and four a la carte restaurants from which to choose. The buffets include the Bella Vista which was open for breakfast and dinner. This buffet was located at the very end of the south building in the horseshoe layout. The food here was great. Just about anything you could desire was available. There were theme dinners each night. The Bella Vista was a fully enclosed and air-conditioned restaurant with al fresco dining available in front of the entrance.
The second buffet restaurant is called the Perla and is located on the beach. This is an open-air buffet and was only open for lunch while we were there.
All of the food at both buffets was excellent with one exception. Be very careful if you get a hamburger because they just dont know how to cook one. We got hamburgers from the Perla buffet and from room service that were essentially raw in the middle. We sent one back that we got from room service and asked for a well-done replacement. The replacement hamburger was just as raw as the first.
The four a la carte restaurants include the Hashira Japanese tepanyaki restaurant, the EL Galeon surf and turf restaurant, the La Tentazione Italian restaurant and the Le Tourbillon French/Gourmet restaurant. We ate in all four a la cartes and enjoyed all of them. Our only two complaints would be that the meat cooked on the tepanyaki grill in the Japanese restaurant was a bit too salty for our taste and all four a la carte restaurants were closed on Wednesday, forcing the guests to dine at the buffet or at another hotel.
Unlike the Grand Paraiso in Mexico, there was a no wine menu from which you could choose as part of the all-inclusive package. There was basically one house red and two whites. They were good wines but we missed the varietals selection offered by the Grand Paraiso.
Service in all of the restaurants was quite attentive. All of the servers are uniformed and white gloved. The staff seemed to sincerely want your dining experience to be memorable. One nice aspect of the surf and turf was that the meat was sliced for cooking at a station that you could visit and pick out what you would like.
Bars included the lobby bar, the pool bar, the theater bar and the bar on the sailing ship. Service at the bars was superb. Drink quality was excellent and many top shelf liquors were available on request. Some of the great bartenders include Wildon, Leonardo, Tomas, and others whose names escape me now.
Wait staff from the restaurants that made our visit memorable include Wilfredo, Caesar, Itzy, Juana, Gregory, Jorge, Danis, Cedento, Carmen, Renny, Altagracia, and Nathaniel. These folks bent over backwards to provide anything and everything that we needed.
Each building had a concierge desk located on the first floor. The concierge was supposed to be available to make dinner reservations, transmit special requests to your butler (the butler would draw a bath for you any evening while you were out at dinner and the shows), and provide general customer service as needed. Some of the concierge staff were very professional and helpful (thanks Anna). Others, not so much.
We met two other couples on our first full day at the resort and became friends. We attempted to book a dinner reservation for all six of us at the Jambalaya restaurant at the Bavaro hotel and it proved to be a real challenge. At first, we were told by one concierge that it was impossible to book a reservation for six people. She stated that they were only allotted reservation space for two people at a time. We went back later though and saw another concierge who told us it was possible and that she would book the reservation and send the ticket to our room. To make a long story short, it almost took an act of Congress and three full days to book this reservation but we finally got it done. The concierge staff blamed the difficulty on the managers of the restaurants at the other hotels within the Iberostar complex and said that they were not always very cooperative with them. The General Manager of the entire Iberostar complex should address this. If you book and pay for the Grand, you should be treated like royalty at the other resorts. We sure never had any problems booking dinners at the other Paraiso hotels (the Beach, Lindo and Maya) when staying at the Iberostar Grand Paraiso in Mexico.
Anamacion Staff and Shows:
The anamicion staff worked very hard to make the visit memorable and did a great job. Their boss, Yinilli, was a real customer service oriented young lady. I stopped by her office one day and spoke with her. I made a recommendation that they should consider offering karaoke on the ship at least once per week. She immediately got on the phone and told me she would make arrangements to have karaoke on the ship one night before we left. The next day I ran into her and she told me she had completed the arrangements for the karaoke event and sure enough, the next evening we had karaoke in the nightclub on the lower deck of the sailing ship. There were at least six singers and a large crowd to boot. We all had a great time. Thanks Yinilli! Other anamacion staff members that helped make our visit memorable were Ross, Conan and Oscar. They kept the activities going without being loud or obtrusive. The shows were very entertaining. There were some evenings that the shows were provided by true professionals and the quality of the singing and dancing was very high for Punta Cana.
This resort is truly a rising star. The architecture, art, and furnishings are exquisite. The food was great, service was impeccable and the entire resort was kept immaculately clean. Yes, there are challenges to be met and some improvements yet to be made, but overall this is a fantastic adults-only retreat that provides a high quality vacation. Service is outstanding for the most part and most of the staff seems to be well trained, although some need improvement.
The most serious concern that must be addressed involves the stagnant water of the harbor and lagoon. If this is not satisfactorily corrected, it would prevent us from returning; otherwise, we will be back.
The following link provides photos, anamacion schedule, spa services and prices, and a resort map: http://tinyurl.com/d86vt7
"We could not have been more pleased with the service."
Jeff from Michigan on Feb 1, 2009 >
1 contribution(s) United States of America
Visited on: Feb, 2009
1345 people found this review helpful
Arrival: Jan 31 - Feb 7, 2009
We arrived in Punta Cana at 2:30 in the afternoon. We got thru customs very quickly, the line never stopped moving; we where thru in 10 minutes. Our tour operator routed us quickly to the resort. The time from plane to front desk was just over an hour.
We were greeted and offered champagne & Pina Coladas as we checked in.
Knowing this was a brand new resort & having seen on-line pictures, our room was exactly as we expected: king size bed, flat-screen TV & whirl-pool tub. The only downside was that it faced the Ibero Bavaro resort, so we had no view of the ocean (though, we probably could have asked, but we didn't).
The Grand Hotel offers a 'butler' to service your room. Our butlers (Lewis, Marcos & Tony) were available to provide any services we needed; including delivery of flowers & fruit the evening we arrived. Later in the week, Tony drew us a very romantic bath in the whirl-pool tub while we were away to dinner.
Restaurants and Bars:
The food in all the restaurants was incredible; this includes the ala carte & buffet. We dined at the buffet, in the Surf & Turf, the Italian & the Japanese; the French was not yet open, but it should be open by mid-February. The staff was very attentive, with the exception of the Japanese. We happened to be there on opening night, so service was a bit slow; the food was fine none the less.
Despite being 'just' a buffet, we could get fresh lobster, crab legs & filet mignon each night.
Without question, Punta Cana has the nicest beach we have visited; this is our second time to PC, we've also traveled to Negril, Montego Bay, Puerto Vallarta, and the Mayan Rivera.
The pool area was very nice, with an assortment of lounging options. We had our choice of lounge chairs beside the pool, lounge chairs setting shallowly in the pool, and of shaded beds for an afternoon nap.
The grounds are freshly planted, so there is not yet any mature growth on the property.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel::
We went on the full-day Bavaro Runners Safari Adventure excursion. This took us to a local school, a sugar-cane field, and into the mountains to visit a home which actively farms cocoa & coffee beans. After lunch we went horse-back riding & finally to a local beach.
The Star Friends at the Grand Hotel offered many activities, but they were not pushy & would leave you alone if you simply said âno thank you'. Of note, we met Conan our first evening; he remembered us by name & chatted with us each day.
The Gym & Spa opened during our visit. While we did not use the gym, my wife took advantage of the Spa, booking an 80 minute message.
We cannot say enough about the staff: first rate all the way. Everybody we encountered was very helpful. From the time we climbed out of the airport shuttle until our departure, we could not have been more pleased with the service. Notably: Gregory, Melvin, Leonardo, Cecilio, Ramon, & Neomi in the restaurants; our butlers Lewis, Marcos & Tony; and Rosario & Wilnet in the front of the hotel.
This is a small hotel, and all rooms are not yet finished; as a result, we were not crowded. We had no problem finding seats near the pool, or getting reservations at any of the three ala carte restaurants.
This is our second visit to the Iberostar in Punta Cana; our first visit was 10 years ago. It was very interesting to walk thru the grounds of the Ibero Punta Cana / Dominicana and see how the landscape has matured, giving it a completely different feel. We also realized just how crowded it was & how much space we had at the Grand Hotel.
I've mentioned that this is a new hotel, it opened December 20, 2008. As such, it is still a work-in-progress. The French restaurant is not open yet, one wing of rooms is still being finished & the Presidential suite is still in the construction phase (this led to a bit of noise at the pool; it is easily ignored as simply background noise).