Calle Salvador Esq. 30 de marzo. Santiago de los Caballeros. Dominican Republic.
The Hotel Colonial is family owned and operated by the Perez family since 1991. We're located in the heart of the shopping and commercial district of Santiago, across the street from the central bus (gua gua) stop, and just a short walk to the Monument, Cathedrals, restaurants, casinos, banks and money exchange.
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"Do not go here!! Food borne illnesses, incredibly bad service, jellyfish stings and more!"
Posted by: Jessica
on Sep 24, 2015 >
1 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Sep, 2015 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
235 people found this review helpful
From September 12th until September 19th, 2015 my fiancée and I stayed at the Bahia Principe La Romana Bouganville all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic. To say that we were severely disappointed with both the service and the food during our stay would frankly be an understatement. The following letter is an account of our trip with the aim of, at the very least, bringing these issues to your attention to amend future practices.
To say that the staff at this resort was a mess does not even begin to cover it. When we stay at 5 Star resorts or go to high-end restaurants in Toronto, we expect a level of professionalism. The staff at the Bahia Principe were extremely informal: dancing around our tables instead of serving us, not bringing us item we request, leaning and lounging on the furniture, gossiping loudly, yelling across rooms to each other, singing loudly instead of doing their work, and even grabbing food from the buffets while guests were also eating and sitting in the same dining halls as us to eat their lunches.
We attempted to complain or point out our dissatisfaction where we could; it is important to note at this point that we spoke to close to 25 other guests at the resort about their experiences and they were all like ours. (We even met a couple that left the resort early to try to get out of the country sooner because their experience was so terrible and the wife had gotten so sick off the food.) We were told by a staff member at the front desk that because this resort was so far away from any other resorts, “there is less competition so we don’t have to change.” When we were told this, we were absolutely at a loss for words.
Policies were enforced haphazardly (for example, on our last full day, the towel exchange policy was all of a sudden informally changed for no reason). More than once I felt harassed by the staff who were either inappropriate – one even invited me to stay at his house with him when I told him my fiancée and I were leaving the resort soon – or pushing a sales agenda. When we requested a sit-down with the manager of the resort to discuss some of our concerns, the front staff took our phone number (our personal cell phone) and room number and assured us someone would set up the meeting. We were never called.
The worst part of our trip was that we were planning our wedding in the Dominican Republic. We have even made deposits on some of our suppliers. We are no longer going to get married in the Dominican. We have stayed in Punta Cana in the past, and we know that the food and service can be good in the DR, but we cannot risk bringing 50+ of our friends and family into a country where the service and the food might be sub-par. We cannot spend our wedding fighting with staff to get the level of service we both expect and paid for.
Quite honestly, we won’t be returning to the Dominican Republic ever again.
Arrival was possibly the high point of this trip. We came in quite late (11 PM), and we were greeted with a cold drink.
Everything went downhill from there. As soon as we checked in we found out our requested king bed wasn't available, and the problems piled on from there...
We booked our reservation at the Bahia Principe La Romana Bouganville in June of 2015 through Expedia, and clearly requested a king-sized bed for our accommodations. We also had our destination wedding coordinator, contact the resort to ensure we would have a king sized bed for our stay, as we were planning on having our wedding in the Dominican Republic. When we arrived late Saturday (Sept. 12) night, we were surprised to find that we had instead been placed in a room with two twin beds. We immediately had the bell boy call down to the front desk, but we were told that there were no king sized bed rooms available and we would have to resolve the issue the next morning.
The next morning, we were told to come back three different times. Each time the front desk staff had no answer or no resolution to our issue. It took my fiancée firmly putting his foot down to have us finally moved into a room with a king sized bed room. Clearly the resort was not full from the amount of guests we saw. We were moved into the smaller building where construction was happening right over our heads.
The room cleaning service was inconsistent at best. From our room not being cleaned at all one day, to having no towels on another, to the cleaning service touching our clothes – namely, turning several pairs of pants and underwear inside-out and leaving them in odd places on the bed – the service was astoundingly awful. By the end of our stay we had resorted to requesting that our room not be cleaned as it made us feel more comfortable and safe with the consistency of our room.
Restaurants and Bars:
Aside from the front desk and the room cleaning service, the worst parts of our trip were the hotel services and the food.
Having some experience with health and safety standards regarding food in Canada, the cleanliness and storage of the buffet foods (and from what followed, I can only assume the a-la-carte food was treated in much the same way) was absolutely unacceptable. Yet, because there were no other options to eat off the resort due to the remote location, we had to eat the food. This has led to both my fiancée and myself contracting food-borne illnesses for the entirety of our trip that still persists now. We are seeking medical attention for this illness. Both my fiancée and I have lost weight on this trip due to our desire to not eat as little of the resort food as possible, and the resulting illness that plagued us in any case.
The resort and restaurants were visibly dirty and unkempt. The Japanese restaurant had the long benches covered in dust. Unsurprising that the food made us sick if the employees couldn’t be bothered to wipe down tables and chairs daily.
The drinks were horrendous. Being fans of good vodka and gin, we were horrified to find that both the gin and the vodka tasted the same on more than one occasion. Also knowing what particular brands of vodka should taste like, none of the vodkas we were served tasted like what their bottles should contain. We were denied the top-shelf liquors as they were an additional charge – something that was not made clear to us anywhere in the lead up to the trip.
I had to resort to giving specific instructions on my drinks, which were made differently every single time. For example, I had to request that white sugar from paper packets to not be added into my drinks. On one occasion a Mojito was served to me with a fruit fly floating in it – one that was clearly seen by my fiancée and another couple. I had requested a fresh drink, whereupon the staff refused to acknowledge the fly in the drink, instead bringing more staff over to debate whether there was a fly or not before pouring the drink into a wine glass and telling me “see? There’s no fly”. After the staff left, my fiancée pulled out the fly from the drink with his finger and left it on the table.
The beach was also sub-par, with lots of debris like shells and seaweed mixed in to the sand. The sea water was murky. Both my fiancée and I were stung by jellyfish while in the water, and witnessed other people being stung. The beach shop where we could rent boats had most of their stock out of commission because it was broken. After signing our release form, we were then notified that we needed to wear shirts to use the lifejackets, and that we only had 20 minutes to use the equipment because the shop staff were leaving for lunch.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Special events on the resort never occurred as they were promoted in flyers we were handed. No notice was given. There was very little to do on the resort so we ultimately resorted to doing day trips just to get away.
These are just some of the issues that completely ruined our experience and our vacation.
For the money, go somewhere other than the Dominican. We've cancelled our wedding there as a direct result of the Bahia Principe La Romana -- the portion of deposits we lost as a result is still well worth pulling out of this country. We simply cannot trust the resort staff etc. to treat our guests well and help us have the wedding we want. Such a shame.
I've reached out to the management of the Bahia chains with all the concerns I've raised here, and I got a response. The response was not an apology or anything customer-service oriented, but instead a long email arguing every issue I raised. Just another nail in a very well sealed coffin.
Mary on Dec 17, 2012 >
11 contribution(s) Canada
Visited on: Nov, 2012 | Leisure | With Spouse/Partner
648 people found this review helpful
This was our 8th stay in as many years at Dreams La Romana. Once again stayed for two very pleasant and relaxing weeks that took us to mid Dec.
Had a pleasant flight with Westjet. Only snacks and refreshments are free. Not every passenger purchased a meal, and so this meant the aisle was not constantly cluttered with flight attendants pushing carts. Drive from La Romana airport along the new highway shaves off a few minutes from the typical 20 minutes it used to take. With or without the highway, not long at all.
Restaurants and Bars:
Not that there was anything wrong before, but the menus have changed for the better since a new executive chef took over sometime after our last visit in Feb of this year. This was immediately apparent, and welcomed. So was the return of real orange juice. My husband had one food complaint, and that is that they seemed to be extremely slow in having pancakes and french toast ready.
Just about every staff member of the Dreams team does a fabulous job. Once again special thanks to our favorite people like Belkis (breakfast juice bar), William (breakfast eggs), Melvin (dinner buffet waiter), Kerry Consentino, Mario Rosel, and of course Pablo Picasso (every resort needs a character like him).
The beach has once again changed it’s shape from the storms that passed through the area. More of the coral/huge chunks of rock along the water’s edge are now exposed, and several trees had to be cut down. The reef has also broken up and scattered. Snorkeling was still decent. Lots of shade available, and lots of chairs as well, however many need to be restrung tighter because they are sagging badly. The short retaining wall (which runs along approx a third of the beach length) needs to be backfilled with more sand, or actual stairs built in a few areas, as the step over and down is getting too high in most sections. We were told that the week before our arrival, staff spent several days removing sand that had washed in and raised the sand level on the ocean side up against the stone wall. We wonder why they removed the sand, as doing that once again makes it hard for folks to step over the wall.
We had clouds every day and it rained every day, sometimes a sprinkle, sometimes a good hard rain. As a result, we both had a few bug bites.
We will continue to return to Dreams and the friends that we have made. Despite some areas starting to look a little tired, Dreams La Romana is quite clean and well maintained. The book exchange area in a dark corner of the cafe needs much better lighting.
Thanks to Debbie and her team for a wonderful site.