Debbie's Dominican Travel.com Old Reviews - IFA Villas Bavaro Resort & SPA
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Elly 
Canada (Manitoba)
October 2008
Arrival and Flight: We flew with SunWing.. our Flight was very smooth, and good. The Drive from the Airport to the Hotel was short and nice...

Rooms: Perfect Rooms.. the Maids did a great Job every day

Restaurants: We only tried 2 of them, but they were awesome. The Food was great, the People were AMAZING.

Bars: Awesome bars, lot of choices... I love the Miami Beach;-)

Beach and Pools: The Best Beach I ever saw... Beautiful white powdery sand.. good chairs.. I love the Stretching and Aerobics we did every Morning..;-)

Activities and Entertainment: GREAT!!! We just loved the Evening Shows.. they did a wonderful job.. Especially Will Smith (Henry).. we love you Henry... you are doing an amazing job...

Conclusion: We had an awesome time, and I would like to go back in a HEARTBEAT!!!! I will let everyone now what a great time we had, and I will refer everyone this Hotel. We had Sunshine EVERYDAY!!!! Good Job to everyone, and we will see you soon;-)
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Dan 
Montreal
May 2008
We are from Montreal (in our early 50s) and we just came back from a 6 days/nights vacation at IFA-Bavaro Ocean (beginning of May, 2008).

I believe we are advised travelers (Mexico Riviera Maya: Bahia, Palladium, Puerto Vallarta, Cuba: twice, Panama, Costa Rica, Margareta…) and we have a good perception of what 4 stars should cost and offer in this type of business.

I am writing this note to advice people that this resort is NOT 4 STARS--- except for the rooms.

The services are in fact 3 to 31/2 stars. We booked 5 days in advance and this was the only resort available having 3 tennis courts (this was important for us).

Who wants to play tennis must avoid this resort. 3 courts are advertised—in fact are only 2 (plus one basket play ground). The most important thing is the courts are not in the resort; you must walk ~ 10 minutes in the village. The courts are located among private houses of Dominican people; you have to pass in the front of a guard that has a real loaded gun. The courts are not maintained (poor quality surface) have no services at all (no representative from the resort, no water, no bathrooms), dirtiness.

We had reservation for each day as requested by the customer service of the hotel. The first day, we arrived on time but the courts were occupied by Dominican people who claimed “the courts are their property and if we don’t like it we have to call the police”.

We did not comment because there was a possibility that the guy with the gun was paid buy the tennis players. We reported the incident to the hotel customer service and we were assured next day everything will be OK. Next day the courts were available. After one hour play, when we wanted to leave, 3 big dogs showed up at the court door. We manage to get to the hotel, but that was the end of IFA tennis for us.

Apart from this, we noticed the people had no training in English (even at the front desk). They were actually surprised to notice that some people don’t speak Spanish (amazing !!).

Who likes nightly entertainment/shows must avoid this resort. There is (almost) nothing. NOTHING TO DO AT NIGHT. If it was boring for us, I am wondering what young people should feel like ?!

We found the beaches to be gorgeous: fine, white sand, clear water (with algae in places, but this is OK). Too bad they were heavily populated with people offering free presentations of surrounding resorts (very annoying).

Conclusion: This was our first and last “last minute booking”. No more IFA for us. We expect a better quality for a 4 stars resort.
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
MIke 

April 2008
Went to Punta Cana for march break with some friends. IFA Bavaro was an awesome place to be!

Rooms: The rooms were great, maid service was very good, and the complimentary water got us through the hot days (and hungover mornings). Showers worked well, however I'd bring your own shampoo, their provided one was more of a liquid soap. Don't expect to find anything on TV (though why would you be watching TV?) short of TBS. My only complaint would be the room keys. They stopped working for many people, however a quick trip to the front desk would sort that out. Some rooms were equipped (luckily not ours) with a keyslot near the door that would activate the lights and the AC when the key was in. The only annoyance came for our friends who would come back to a hot room since the AC would be off all day.

Restaurants/Bars: We never had the opportunity to visit to a la carte restaurants, so it was the buffets all week. Breakfast was fantastic, the fresh fruit was amazing, and the staff were friendly. Any place where a cook was making food in front of you is your best bet for the tastiest meal. The small beach restaurant was very good as well during hours between buffet service. There are plenty of bars on the resort to suit your needs. The more upscale Cafe Dominicano offers quiet music, comfortable chairs, and very nice drinks. The other bars have a more relaxed attitude, and with liqour on tap, you'll be having a great time fast. The drinks are ridiculously strong, so be warned. A shot is about 3-4oz, and a standard drink (1 shot in North America) is about 3-4oz of liqour per drink. A Long Island Iced Tea is a blend of 4 liqours that fill an entire cup, plus a *tiny* splash of coke. You've been warned.

Beach and Pools: The beach is absolutely gorgeous. Plenty of chairs, beautiful white sand and clear blue water. Tons of activities to do along the waterfront, just remember that almost everyone is willing to bargain. Aim ridiculously low, you'd be surprised at what they accept. And if they reject it, just walk further down to the next guy.

Grounds: Very clean, the security staff was unobtrusive however offered a sense of well, security at all times. Wake up early and you could get a coconut cut down from a tree in front of your room. The entire resort was clean and beautiful.

Staff: I did not see a single staff member who didn't greet you with a smile, an 'Ola!', or who didn't seem to be having a great time. Everyone was incredibly friendly, and did a great job trying to help. Be warned however that English is NOT their strong point. You'll most likely be able to get your point across, however if you know French or Spanish it'd help. (I know neither, and it was fine). Out of experience at the time we went, the staff at the Pizza Bar were the best. A shout out the Freddie (who makes the strongest drinks ever. You led to amazingly fun nights!) and Frankie (the server who ended up befriending us, bringing us drinks without asking, and generally being awesome!) from the Pizza Bar, you two rock!
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Sharon 
Moncton, New Brunswick
April 2008
Hi Debbie,
I just came back from 7 glorious days at the IFA Bavaro Ocean Beach Resort. Had an awesome time and would highly recommend it to anyone.

Rooms:
The room was beautiful, clean, and the maids always did a great job. The air conditioning worked well and we slept like logs at night because of all our daily activity.

Restaurants:
The a la carte restaurants were good. We only had an opportunity to eat at one of the other restaurants, the Mexican. Food was great but different. It was an opportunity to try something new.

Beach and Pools:
I can't say enough about the beach. It is absoluately beautiful and breathtaking. The white sand and blue water was something I had never see quite like that before. The pools were awesome as well. Clean and cool.

Grounds:
What can I say. Again, beautiful, clean and well kept.

Activities:
I thoroughly enjoyed the nightly entertainment. The dancers and singers are terrific and very talented (hi Henri). We went every night to see the show. Also, the young lady that did the kids show should be commended. She has a way with the kids and you can tell then enjoyed the show.

The activities at the pool and the beach (aerobics, games, etc.) were a lot of fun. The guys and gals who do this seem to enjoy their work. I know I certainly enjoyed participating in activities with them. (Please say hi to Reggie for me. He did a lot of the pool activities.)

Tours:
We did the Outback Jungle Safari tour. It was great. It gave us an opportunity to see what the Dominican is really like off the resort. The guide, Eddie, was very friendly and explained everything very well. Christian was our driver, and a great one at that!! (Say hi to them for me also.)

All in all I would say we had an awesome time. I am definitely going back to the same resort next year.

Thanks for a wonderful, unforgettable vacation.
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Sherri 
PEI, Canada
April 2008
There was a party of 6 of us. We were there from March 26/2008 for 1 week.
From the moment we arrived till we left everything was excellent.
We were in the Village section (4501). Our room was nice and clean, must make a point our maid Mariasela, could not do enough for us. We certainly made sure she knew this.

I made up gift cards and wrote it in Spanish, so she understood how much she was appreciated. I recommend travellers to do this, believe me it helps.

Staff at check in were good and helpful. If your nice to them and laugh/smile they will be very helpful. Seen where people were rude to them and I would also be ticked. We are all human and can only do so much, so think of yourselves in your own enviroment and do a reality check.

Food was fine, we did the Mexican Ala-carte, food was great. Though I would recommend better service training, they were too many following over themselves. Beach was

awesome and so clean. Our bartender Kelvin was so nice and sweet.
The 2 brothers who wait on you at the grill are terrific.

I have had the best service at this property than I even had at Sandals. So I guess I am easier to please. I recommend this property and if you want 1st Class than open up your wallet.

We plan to go back next winter and looking forward to it.

Overall rating 3+ as, it is spread out and if in Villas you have a hike to even the central things. For people who have problems walking, they do have a wheelchair there. Book it right away.

The grounds are fabulous, oh and the pizza is good. Try the hot one and have lots of beverages beside you!
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Tammy  
Canada
April 2008
Hotel Review: IFA Bavaro Village Resort, located in Punta Cana, DR
Travel Dates:  January 4 – January 11th for two people.
Tour Operator: Nolitours

Prior to reading my review below, I think it is important to point out a few facts about myself as a traveler, in particular to the Dominican Republic. 


  • I have been traveling to this country since 1997 at the age of 23 (ten years & counting)


  • Accumulating close to 30 holiday visits; 18 of those in the last 3 years, wide knowledge due to personal stays in all hotels ranging from 3-5 stars across the country


  • More importantly, lived in the country for 6 months in Puerta Plata area – thus first hand knowledge of customs, hotel quality, hospitality & service standards


All this said, our ‘holiday’ to IFA Bavaro Village Resort was the MOST disappointing of all vacations in the DR and no where close to the value in which it represents itself.  I have categorized the issues as best as possible to put into perspective what a week’s ‘vacation’ looks like. I have never written a poor review on a hotel until now.

Room Conditions:


  • We were in a brand new building block just completed for guests (Room 4228).  Guest Services advised we were the VERY first guests in these rooms.  I would normally be excited by this but it was obvious that the rooms were not ready for service nor had all the details ironed out to be housing guests.


    • Air Conditioning – only worked half the week, we advised Noli rep/hotel staff of the issue and were told ‘someone’ would come to take a look’. The air was never fixed and many restless nights were had from heat.


    • Electricity – there appeared to be electrical shorts in the room. The TV would consistently and consecutively turn itself on and off until we simply unplugged it. Not enough power to play CD player. None of the plugs in the room would give enough power to my blow-dryer to dry my hair (had to use the room of a guest next to ours- very inconvenient for both parties). Again, we notified Guest Services of the issue and told the mysterious ‘someone’ would look into it.  It was never resolved and there was never anyone that came.


      • It was even suggested that the electricity was fine and I had to buy something in the shop to make the blow-dryer work better


    • Hot Water – No hot water! Plain and simple, I’ve showered many times in cold water in this country, but in LOCAL homes, not in 4 star hotels.


    • Mini-Bar – While it may seem insignificant, majority of the rooms were getting Pepsi and Sprite along with water in their mini-bar, we only ever got water.  Minor however when paying the same as other guests, the same service MUST be provided.


    • Several attempts were made to change rooms however we were always greeted by less than eager employees at Reception who each time advised the hotel was full and we could not be moved.


    • Other guests traveling with the same Tour Operator advised they had even less success at having issues resolved with the tour rep as they did with the hotel staff directly.


 

Maid Service:


  • It appears as though the resort is getting larger however additional staff has not been hired to accommodate the increase in guests.  This is very evident in the maid staff.


    • Rooms were haphazardly cleaned.  Floors/sinks/bathrooms left dirty


    • Regularity of cleaning was horrific – maids coming to clean rooms at 8 and 9pm in the evening.


    • Bed sheets not changed – beds not made properly


    • Some days there were towels, some days there weren’t


    • Some days the coffee was re-stocked, some days it wasn’t


    • GARBAGE!! – The pile of garbage from cleaning the rooms on our floor sat outside our room for 3 days.  I do not need to explain that food waste, personal hygiene waste and any other garbage collected from the rooms that sit in heat over an extended period of time will smell and is not hygienically safe.  It took 3 days before firmly requesting for the garbage to get taken away.


Construction:


  • Construction on the hotel is in full force everywhere around the hotel.  While I’m certain that these efforts will result in a beautiful hotel in a few years time, the impact on current guests is not acceptable.


    • Tile work commenced on our floor two rooms down at 9am in the morning.  Loud and extremely disruptive.


    • Construction workers used the pathway around the main pool through-out the course of the day to transport materials (two men carrying a mattress over their heads, containers on wheels making CONSTANT noise) etc.


    • A new building block of rooms, that yet to have windows already had the bed frames and mattresses. This is a country of unpredictable rain; those mattresses were being subjected to rain and dampness not to mention the workers who would sleep on them, uncovered, while on their break. And after this, sheets will be put on and guests will be expected to sleep on them!


Poolside/Amenities:


  • When I tell people the following, it confirms the quality of hotel IFA currently is.  The poolside loungers are BOLTED to the cement.  BOLTED.  You cannot move them to accommodate the shifting of the sun, the PRIMARY reason people go away!!  And very common for all hotels, there were not enough for the growing hotel patrons.  I am aware that most complaints from travelers are that there are not enough loungers so I am patient with the quantity, but bolted is not normal. If anyone traveled outside a party of 2, they were not going to find a location where loungers could be brought together to spend time with each other. 


  • Loungers on beach were extremely scarce.  If the hotel is expanding, the amenities must do so as well


Entertainment/Animation:


  • Amphitheatre/show area to small to accommodate all the guests


  • We arrived on the Friday night; there was a show with dancers on the Sat night….the same show was repeated again on the Thursday night.  I have never seen a hotel repeat the same show twice in the week.  The three days in between were audience participation. 


  • The hotel could not have a less interested group of animators ever seen in the Dominican Republic. 


  • Event Board? The hotel needs one.  There is no schedule of what show is on in the evening, what activities are at what time in the day etc.  Participating in any activities were pure luck


Food/Restaurants:


  • A la carte Restaurants – most guests in other hotels complain about the a la carte restaurants and how fast they book up – such is true here is well, and I don’t have a concern with this, however it appears there is not enough staff in the a la carte restaurants which means they are not serving the number of people the restaurant has the potential to hold


  • Buffet – Line ups to just get in - I have NEVER waited in line outside a buffet restaurant to be seated.  Staff were slow and overflow of people could have been the result of the A la Carte’s not being used to their potential.


  • Food selection – little to be desired.  Please remember my report of this issue comes from both living in the Dominican and vacationing in a variety of different rating hotels – I am not a picky eater and the food has never been an issue for me.  The selection is the same every night, no theme nights, and very redundant.


Nolitours was made aware of the report above and simply replied they did not know of the construction.  IFA Hotel Management was contacted and they advised all tour operators are aware of their on-going renovations.  The hotel has potential in the future however not at this point in time.

I refer many friends/family/coworkers to many hotels in the Dominican Republic because of my first hand knowledge of the resorts.  This is a resort I would STRONLY advise to stay away from.  Likewise, choose a tour operator who stands behinds their products available
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Carlee 
Cape Breton N.S
April 2008
We just returned from a week's vacation in Punta Cana where we stayed with IFA Resorts..originally we booked through our travel agent for Oceans but I think we ended up in Villas..our representative with Signature Vacations Jackie was awesome and our kids really enjoyed chatting with her almost everyday..it was she who told us we were in the Villas..lol..Our reasoning for wanting Oceans was because it was listed as closest to the beach but to be honest we were close enough in the Villas and the little train that takes you down to the beach isn't as bad as we had thought when we first read about it...it really is just a quicker way to the beach..if you like to walk..that's fine too..although i have to admit it took us a day or so to figure out how to get there...the resort is currently being upgraded and renovated and the area leading to the beach i believe must be part of their work in progress..

Let me say ..we thoroughly enjoyed this resort and would recommend it to our friends and family without hesitation..the rooms we stayed in were clean and fresh and kept that way by our housekeeper who treated us very well during our stay. We always had fresh bottles of water in the fridge and clean towels ..what more would you want?

The staff were wonderful. Always very friendly throughout the whole resort. The first night one of the kids knocked a glass onto the floor and broke it..I called reception at 11pm and within 10 min. someone was there to clean it up..you would be hard pressed to have service that quick here at home.

This resort boasts the absolute best pizza in the world..The Pikalo Pizzaria was a favorite spot for our whole family to eat. It had piping hot fresh pizza from about 1130am until 900pm every night as well as chicken nuggets hamburgers and fries...located beside the main pool it was convenient as well as delicious. The buffet restaurants of which there were 2 main ones were good as well...with areas for non smokers which was nice. There was also apparently an area by the beach as well called the Beach Grill which opened around lunch time but we didn't spend much time at the beach because our children ages 11 and 8 preferred the pools. The beach is gorgeous by the way..we did make it there a couple times...

Our oldest son who is 17 enjoyed the disco each night which catered to people of all ages. This was a highlight for him and he met some really great people there.

My one and only complaint..of course there had to be 1..no resort is perfect..is that the bars do not offer bottled water....you get perfectly safe purified water there but only in a glass...I much prefer bottled as it limits the number of trips to the bar area and easier to carry about...not bad this being my only complaint.

My advice to those who visit..see your tour rep..ask to be taken for a walk about..it's a large resort and if it wasn't for our tour guide Jackie, there are areas we would never have known existed..very beautiful ones at that. One of my favorite spots was Cafe Dominicana..this is an area for relaxation that always had a nice breeze blowing through...really good cafe latte...loved it..and it lead to the al a cartes which we couldn't find and to another gorgeous pool and bar area as well as to the village which is lovely to see.

Once again definitely a resort I would return to and recommend to friends...we took some great pics and if you care to see some I would gladly share...my email is..shy2875@hotmail.com..contact me anytime..
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Tracy 

January 2008
Rooms - We book ROH in the Ocean Section but were first placed in the villas. They are decent little rooms, nice bathrooms, plasma tv's, although beds are awful. Spent two nights there then moved but only got as far as the village but by then we had a good feel for the entire place and decided to stay put because there was construction of new buildings going on in the ocean section, not to mention it seemed the ocean section takes the brunt of the noise from the nightly disco on the beach. We were happy with our new room although the beds and pillows are the same awful ones no matter what section you are in. Other than that, the rooms are newly remodeled, always stocked with plenty of fresh towels and fridge full of water.

Restaurants - Decent buffets, there was always something to choose from, if not, grab a slice of pizza, burger or fries from the poolside grill. A la carte's were good.

Beach and Pools - Pools are lovely. The main activity pool tends to be very loud so if you are looking for peace go over to the villa section, their pool is beautiful and quiet. Having travelled different spots in the caribbean, I'd rate Bavaro beach as second best I've been to (number one being Varadero). It is beautiful and you can walk for miles. The only drawback was that IFA's stretch seems very loud with watercraft speeding past constantly and helicopters buzzing overhead all day. To avoid the crowds who pack in like sheep near the main bar, restaraunt, washroom area, walk to the far left of the property and you'll find yourself plenty of space. We usually hit the pool or beach around 9 - 10 am and never had a problem getting chairs, there are lots.

Grounds - Grounds are beautiful. A new pathway to the beach had just been completed and created a lovely walkway.

Activities - We travel with our kids, 10 & 12 and they have always taken advantage of the kids programs. IFA's kids club was pathetic. I hope part of their major renovations and restructuring will include a new kid's club, they have plenty of room for it.

Tours - We did the ATV tour (a blast!), Outback Jungle Safari (fabulous day) and the Altos Chavon/Catalina Island (Chavon River and Altos Chavon were pretty but nothing exciting. The afternoon on Catalina Island is gorgeous.) You need to get away from the hotel zone and see the real Dominican, it's absolutely beautiful.
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Oliver, Maria, Paulo, Bella 
USA
June 2007
Dates stayed: May 17-24, 2007

Four of us, 2 guys and 2 girls, went to Punta Cana for the very first time and we all had a blast! We were there from May 17-24. I think that May was a perfect month to go because it wasn’t incredibly crowded.

Did I hear someone ask about the beach? First of all, the sun is hotter there than I’ve ever felt anywhere else. It’s humid as expected but fortunately there is a cool breeze that blows every now and then which is nice. The beach doesn’t have much of a selection of trees to hide behind but you’ll find shade if you look hard enough. The sand was white and clean. The water was warm during the day and actually cooled just enough at night. It was nice to take a dip in the ocean at sunset. When going to the beach, you may want to park yourself close to the bar and restaurant. They don’t come to you for any orders. You have to go to them. The food at the beach is pretty good though! Everything’s grilled. And by the way, if you aren’t staying at the Ocean Village, it really is about a 5-10 minute walk to the beach. It’s a nice walk though. You’ll never notice the distance. But if you really don’t want to walk, there is a beach shuttle that will bring you there. It’s parked right outside of the reception desk.

As for mosquitoes and sand fleas… I didn’t get one bite on me. I did apply some Repel with DEET when it was really humid at night. But for the most part, I wasn’t affected. I did see some people with bites around their ankles so just be aware that you may get bitten. I’d be more concerned with applying sunscreen, as the sun’s rays are intense.

The main pool area was always crowded with people. Luckily, our room in the Villas had a balcony with the view of the pool. They play music for most of the day. And what a variety… from Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” to Antony Santos’ “El Chico Del Apartamento 512”. It was enjoyable nonetheless especially when the staff would dance with the patrons. The other pool next to the spa hardly had any people there. The bar was never full. The water is a bit deeper; 5 feet compared to waist deep in the main pool.

The rooms were cozy. I didn’t mind that the drapes didn’t match the valance. The beds were firm. The pillows felt like they were filled cotton balls. We stayed awake most hours of the day and night so I fell asleep once I landed on my bed. The air conditioner blew out some incredibly cold air and if you turn on the ceiling fan as well, you’ll wake up to an arctic winter. =) Cable television was hit and miss as was water pressure. There were a couple instances where water wasn’t available. It usually lasted only an hour or so. So just walk out the door and get a beer or Cuba Libre while you wait.

Hot water was also a commodity. Take showers quickly because you may run out. You might also have to wait a couple minutes for water to heat up if you’re the first one in the shower. Once the water pressure is available, it comes out at you with a flurry. It’s actually quite amusing. Just talk to the person at the Front Desk or Guest Relations when you have a problem. The bathroom in general isn’t as bad as some other people have said. So what if there are really really tiny ants walking around with you. They don’t visit all the time and they’re so few. It also comes with a fully loaded shampoo, conditioner and soap dispenser.

Also, an iron and ironing board aren’t included in the room, but you can always call and ask for one. They’ll bring it right up to you. Why do you ask would I need an iron? The a la carte restaurants require men to wear collared shirts and pants to enter. Women don’t have a dress code.

Mineral water is always there for you in the refrigerator. Leave a couple dollars a day on top of the refrigerator and you may get an extra bottle or two when you get back to your room.

There were probably only a handful of us Americans at the resort. That really didn’t matter because everyone was very nice. Even though only one of us spoke Spanish well, they really made an effort to communicate with us as best as they could. Most bartenders and hosts speak English well.

The animation crew was great. They work tirelessly and all hours of the day! You might see the same guy doing the workout session in the morning at the beach, a dance class by pool in the afternoon, and dancing on stage at the club in the middle of the night. It’s amazing how much they work and all with a smile. The staff works 12 consecutive days out of every 15 days. So please be nice to them as they work very hard to keep us happy.

Know your hosts and hostesses by name. The same goes for your bartender and wait staff. They’ll really appreciate it and you’ll have a much more fun time there. They’re incredibly friendly and will do what they can to give you what you ask for. You’ll be surprised how well they remember your drink and usual table.

Aside from the one at the beach, there was only one buffet open while we were there. And only the International and Japanese restaurants were open as well. The other restaurants were being remodeled. It’s ok though because overall the buffet was the place to be. They do have a limited menu, as they almost always looked the same daily. However, there’s a grill and a pasta bar that you can go to for extra variety. They also have a wide assortment of fruit to choose from.

The buffet only serves beer and refreshments. Juices are limited as well. The pool bar, the bar at the beach, and the Pikalo Pizzeria offer a full bar. The a la carte restaurants also offer everything. The international restaurant offers a wine list that you have to pay for. Most wines are Spanish or Chilean. But not a bad selection. I would defer from the house wine at the Japanese restaurant.

The best bar had to be the Pikalo where they serve pizza. However, the music wasn’t much to be desired in the evening. Even after days of trying to convince them to play more lively music, they insist on trying to get you to sleep. I guess they’re telling you to take a nap because the disco starts at 11:30PM at the beach. The Pikalo closes at 10PM. However, the pool bar closes at midnight. The drinks aren’t very strong. But you should really try a shot of Mama Juana! It’s a local drink that you’ll either love or hate. Or you may just acquire a taste for it like we did.

By the way, it’s OK to use the competitor when going on excursions. They’re actually very friendly and they go out of their way to accommodate you on what you’d like to do and see. If you speak English only, let them know so that your driver that day will be aware of it.

Hope this helped! Enjoy your time there!
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Diane and Vincent 
Gatineau/Ottawa area, Canada
March 2007
This was our 12th trip to the Dominican Republic and our first to the IFA Bavaro Villas Resort. I would recommend it to anyone and would go back in a heartbeat. I’m a fussy eater and very fussy for cleanliness. This resort was perfect.

Check-in
We arrived in the evening and got our rooms pretty quickly. We unpacked a little and then went for a drink at the pool bar.

Rooms
We were in room 3824 in the Ocean/Village section, facing other apartment buildings, nice room, not fancy, basic, but very clean, 2 double beds, good pillows. The rooms with odd numbers in that block were facing a nice pond with birds and ducks.
The bedspread is changed every time there is a new occupant. I've been to places where they did not change it every time and it wasn't very fresh. The air conditioner was running fine and there's also a ceiling fan. Not much water pressure between 5 and 7pm but enough to take a shower. No problem around 7am. Get a safe for your room (3$ US) per day)

Beach/pool
Beach was beautiful. Calm, white sand, a little bit of weeds floating because there is a coral reef not too far and vegetation grows on the reef nut not enough to prevent you from swimming. Pool was amazing. There is a lot of animation at the pool and the beach. Bring a floatie as they are expensive on the resort. By 10 am, all the chairs were taken at the beach but since we are early risers, we were at the beach by 8:15am and did not have any problems. Lots of chairs were “reserved” and some people complained that their towels was removed from the chairs. I never happened to us. There is one quiet pool (with bar) in the Ocean section but activities are at the main pool.
The chairs are bolted to the ground so that they are not all over the place, since the area around the pool is not very wide.

Food
Great! Many choices at the 2 buffets, ranch grill and the beach with excellent lunch and great snacks at the pool also. The pizza is great. We did not go the a la carte restaurants but we were told that the food was good there too.

Entertainment
Starts around 8:30 at the Theatre in the Villas section, across the street from the Reception. There are two bars there. El Capitan closes at 1am and the other one is right at the theatre. All staff was amazing. Always had a smile on their face and always willing to talk to you. The shows are pretty good, especially the "Miss IFA show"

Bars
There is a nice bar by the pool with a lot of chairs and tables under the palm trees. They serve you at the table and the pizza is delicious. Fast service at every bar and the drinks are good. Bring an insulated mug, it keeps the sand out of your drink and keeps it cold. El Capitan bar is very popular so if you want a seat there in the evening, go early.

Grounds
Very nice, lots of palm trees. There is a shuttle service that brings the customers to the beach and to the reception from the Villas section.

Tours
We went on the Bavaro Runners Safari, and enjoyed it very much. We have been on two previous safaris in Puerto Plata: Monster Truck and Outback. They are all similar.

General
We have no complaints whatsoever. We were very satisfied with this resort. IFA is a 3.5 stars resort. Don't expect a 4-5 stars but the quality and quantity of everything that you get is exceptional for a 3.5* We hope that this review will be helpful and that if you chose IFA you will not regret it.
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Angela 

March 2007
In 2006 we stayed at the IFA Ocean Villas, Bavaro Beach, Punta Cana. Even though this is a 3 star resort, this was the best holiday. It was approximately $400 cheaper a couple of weeks earlier in the season…still February but not reading week.

Beach
I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to this particular resort as the beach was fantastic, spacious and clear with lots of palm trees. Plus there was a small place to snorkel right off the beach.

Food
The food was fine, not quite as grand in terms as variety as the Grand Palladium. I actually thought the breakfast smoothies were better at the Ocean Villas. There was a big beach grill so you didn’t have to go up to the buffet for lunch. You could eat on your beach chair.

Room
The room was smaller, but the balcony had a drying rack for your bathing suits. The drinks were great and the beach was larger and more open. The animacion people were friendlier perhaps because it was a slightly smaller resort and you saw them more often, especially if you sat close to the beach stage, so they recognized you.

Favourite Story
When we arrived the first day, we had two bath towels in the bath room. They were a bit rough but did the job. The third day we got a bath mat. That was really exciting. Fourth day bath mat was gone and there two fabulously fluffy hand towels in addition to the bath towels. Seeing as we were kind of relaxed, we looked forward to returning to our room each day from the beach to see what the maid had left us. We found it amusing but did hear other guest’s comment “what’s with the towels in this place, I had to call housekeeping, go to the front desk, etc…”
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Barry 
Canada
March 2007
We've stayed at IFA Bavaro Village Resort from Feb 10 to Feb 19, 2007. We were in Punta Can few times already(at Barcelo, Sunscape, Natura Park, Allegro).

Arrival: We've booked the vacation via Apple Vacations(including airport transfers). The flight arrived to Punta Cana on time at 4:30PM. We were met by the Apple representatives outside the airport exit door(just ignore the annoying people trying to pick you up inside the airport building).

Hint: when filling the immigration form on the flight to Punta Cana or upon arrival to the airport, fill two identical forms for every person: one copy they will take upon the arrival and another one you would be asked to fill when you going home/leave Punta Cana during the check-in. Also, be prepared to pay $10 for a Tourist Card upon arrival to PC.

The mini-van delivered us to the hotel in about 30 minutes. We were given the room key right away- Room #3624 in the Village section of the hotel.

The hotel itself consists of three sections(as many other reviews already mentioned). The Village section we've stayed in is located in the middle of the territory right where the main swimming pool/towels/reception area are.

Room: I can't say about the rooms in other sections, but our room #3624 was very depressing-looking: very old rundown furniture, broken lock on the balcony door, old corroded refrigerator with two bottles of water...no other drinks are given...), bed covers with wholes in them, dim lights and peeling paint on the walls. Everything was very old and needed replacement/repairs. The bathroom looked even worse: corroded bathtub(never seen one like that even in cheap motels), weak water pressure, no hot water on many days.

The air-conditioner was producing more noise than cool air. You are only given one room key...so you would have to plan your activities correspondingly if more than one person is staying in the room. We've talked to few people in other 3xxx buildings in the Village section - they were all very pretty unhappy about the room conditions. The rooms in the Beach section(4xxx) looked slightly better than in Village or Villas sections.

Beach: it takes appr. 15-20 minutes of fast(I mean fast..) walking from the Village section to the beach. The hotel is NOT located on the beach!!! Other hotel on both sides(Barcello and Melia) do have some sections right on the beach. IFA doesn't have any buildings near the beach. There is a little shuttle truck that runs from the reception area to the beach(it takes 5-7 minutes to get to the beach). The beach itself has very nice white powder sand, the ocean is very nice and calm; due to the reefs, you would hardly see any significant waves most of the time.

Shade on the beach: don't be fooled by the pictures on the IFA website: despite the large number of palm trees, there were almost NO shade areas on the beach; there were some areas away from the beach, most of the trees were too tall or too small to create a consistent shade during the day. We had to wake up at 7AM to go and put the towels in those few spots with the shade. I am not sure why the hotel can't build something like Melia did to provide more shade. In addition to not having shades, there were not enough sun-beds in general on the beach. If you come after 9AM - you would NOT find any available ones at all. We've seen on multiple occasions people fighting over the space on the beach.

Also, for some unexplained reason, the grill and the bar with drinks are located only on one side of the beach....so if you are on the other side(closer to Melia) - you would have to walk a good 500m to get a drink or food during lunch.

Food: do NOT believe when you read that there are 4 buffet restaurants at IFA resort. During breakfast, there are only two buffet restaurant open: one near the reception area(usually very crowded) and the other one near the sports bar in the Ocean section. For lunch, there is one buffet place near the reception and a grill on the beach(serving only hamburgers, sausages, salads, hot-dogs, rice or pasta). The grill doesn't have enough tables so usually people waiting for a long time to get a table.

Another buffet place is always closed for lunch. There is also a bar near the swimming pool that serves pizza during lunch time. So, to call it "4 buffet restaurants" would be really pushing it.

There are also 3 a-la-carte restaurants in the Villas section open for dinner only(Japanese, Mexican and international).

Breakfast: pretty good selection of cold cuts, tomatoes, cucumbers, hot dogs, mashed potatoes, beans. There is a omelet station with one cook ...usually gets pretty crowded... Watered-down orange juice, milk, selection of cereals, fresh fruits(bananas, mango, papaya, pineapple, melon, watermelon).

Lunch and dinner: at least one fish dish, grilled pork or beef, rice, pasta station, potatoes, few salads, two soups, lots of breads, veggies. Most of the dishes are not very tasty...some look and taste really scary. But I have to admit we never felt/got sick during our stay - so the sanitary conditions looked pretty good.

Japanese place - nothing special...average food(avoid Marinated Fish Dish with Fish), good service. Mexican place...again nothing spectacular. International place-nothing special as well. Make sure you reserve them as soon as you arrive....usually they were booked pretty early.

We've stayed for 10 days - there were no 'Manager's parties/receptions' that are usually pretty common in most of the resorts.

Sport activities: there are some games being played near the pool(darts, water volleyball), there was some beach volleyball at the beach and some dance classes as well). I have not found the promised ping-pong tables, there were no basketball. Tennis courts were in the Villas section and your would need to reserve them ahead of time. Overall, not much organized activities compare to other resorts.

Entertainment: the entertainment teams consists of about 12-13 young people....they produce the evening shows every day. Some shows are better than others; pretty good dancers and couple of average singers. The themes are mostly Dominican/Carribean. Don't get me wrong -we do have a sense of humor...but many of the jokes/comments/acts were really indecent considering there were lots of kids present during the shows. For some reason, most of the jokes and action were associated with imitation of sexual acts(TACA-TACA using the entertainment team jargon) and discussions about sexual powers of the entertainment team. The "Mister Bavaro" show was really over-board with respect to its indecent content.

Disco: it starts at 11:30PM on the beach(where the grill is during the day). They play live music until about 1:30AM-2:00AM mostly Dominican...then some other tunes..nothing to be excited about...pretty lame. They do serve hamburgers/hot-dogs all the way until 3AM...

Bars: the drinks they serve were really bad! All watered-down, only local beer(Presidente), don't know how to make some drinks at all...and most of them really tasted bad...The best bar was in the Villas section. Also, they all expect to get tips..otherwise you would be ignored for long periods of time..

Shopping: There were several little stores at the resort that sell everyday items, sun block, drinks, candies, souvenirs, clothes, paintings, vases, etc. Most of the items were 3-4 time more expensive than you would buy at home. There were no newspapers sold/provided anywhere at the resort on any day.

Service overall: I would give a 2-3 stars at best; a lot of them look not interested unless you tip them. Some are just rude(reception area would be a good example).

Touristas: most of the people were from France, Germany, Canada(French portion), Portugal and Italy. There were very few people from US.

Overall: There are much better choices in Punta Cana. This hotel need major renovation of most of the rooms, improvements at the beach and in the restaurants. It is 3-star at best....go to Barcelo, Riu or other similar places; you would be glad that you spend a little bit more since you would have a much better time
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Barry 
Canada
November 2006
Nov 4th we left from Toronto, Air Transat. Unfortunately they do not fly out of Hamilton until mid Dec. The weather forecasts were rain or scattered showers for the whole week. Never trust a weatherman, it rained a bit 2 nights, the days were sunny.

This was our 3rd visit to this resort complex. Lots of staff changes, we really missed the old animation crew of 2 years ago. Lots of changes, a new gym that they call a spa, Looks nice but I never used it. They are remodeling the activities center inside and out. Grounds keepers are fewer but they have gone to less maintenance vegetation by getting rid of hedges etc. The maids work harder and longer, they start at 7:00AM by washing down the walkways and pool areas and our maid came to do our room at 7:45 PM one night.

They have tried to keep birds out of the buffet restaurants by covering the sides with netting and it has reduced the number of birds. They got a lot of nice new lounge chairs for the pools and beach. They bolted them in place by the pools to keep orderly walkways open and there was never a shortage of lounges at the beach. They now have an ATM outside the lobby but it did not work for 3 days that I know of, not the hotels problem as it is owned by Banco Popular.

Walking the beach in both directions we noticed that this resort has a much lower vacancy rate than the higher classed resorts around it, it is a great bargain and is very popular with an international client el. If you want room service and 5 star treatment, open your wallet and go somewhere else but if you want a simply good time , this is the place!

Photos available and questions gladly answered, email me at barryf@iaw.on.ca
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
George 
Ontario, Canada
August 2006
Just got back August 26, 2006, six hours before Hurricaine Ernesto hit.
Flight: Air Transat from Toronto. Plane was delayed due to customs problem coming back from Amsterdam. Then they needed a new part that had to be flown in from Montreal. Four hour delay.

Check in: Picked up at hotel in a nice large, ice cold bus, was very hot and humid all week. Unloaded us right to the lobby. Check in was relatively quick. They gave us two rooms at the very back of the resort.Main floor. Very quite, but long walk to anywhere. Nice rooms but not what we ordered. We complained, but it was late and they said they would take care of it tomorrow. Went to the introductory lecture by our Norlitours representative. She took care of it. You have any problem, go to your tour rep. They gave us adjoining rooms on the second floor, right beside the main pool. I was apprehensive because of the noise. The room was quite. More noise came in from the slightly warped front door. Rooms were fair size, clean, fittings looked like they were installed by Tim the Toolman. Bed was rock HARD. My back was killing me all week. I'm a Chiropractor and Iwish there was one there, they do have masseuses. Bring a foam pad or air mattress. Tip the housemaids and be nice and polite. Most speak some English, French, Italian and German besides, you need to practice your Spanish. .

Restaurants: Three sit down restaurants for dinner. We loved the food at the Mexican (the guacamole!) and Japanese (not bad sushi, good fish dinner), the Caribe was good too. Need to were dress pants for men. This was rough , as it was very hot and humid all week. The Caribe restaurant was the only one air conditioned.
There are three buffet restaurants. The main restaurant was large and clean. Lots of food to chose from. Lots of tourists, will cut in front, get in your way, ignorant. It amazes me how stupid and rude some people are. The staff was great. Pick a section you like, with us it was the section closest to the bathrooms. It faced the pool area and the cool ocean breeze, ( did I say how hot it was?) Be patient with the staff, they work 16 hours a day, for 12 days, then 2 days off. I brought $60 US in one dollar bills, just to tip. I left a dollar each time I ate, more at the Fancy restaurants. Coffee would be there before I sit down with my meal. Practice your Spanish. The Maitre Colibri is named Alejandro Cedeno. He is incredible. He rules the restaurant with a firm hand, making sure you table is cleaned and your coffee is hot. Tell him Dr. George sent you. He is expecting it. We gave him a large tip and school supplies, last day. Bring lots of small gifts for the workers, housemaids and school supplies you can pass onto Alejandro or your tour rep. The children in the villages are desperate for them, or mail to Alejandro Cedeno, Hotel IFA Villas Bavaro Beach & Resort, Playas de Bavaro, Higuey, Republica Dominicana

Beach: White, white sand. Cool on the feet. Lots of people, lots of chairs, all taken. Got to get up early to save a chair by the pool or beach. People will steal your chair. (Like I said, some people are ignorant)
Every beach activity is available. If it goes under, on or above the water or in the air, they have it. Some activities are free, lots want money. Did not find a submarine to rent but I wasn't looking. Beside the resort is a big flea market. Over three hundred people work there. Over 40 large stalls, jewelry, liqour, cigars, coffee, arts and crafts, clothing, paintings.
They will have a big smile, shake your hand, offer you free small gifts to fish you in. Pick out everything that you want from that vender, they will put it on a plate. Then barter HARD. Don't be afraid to walk away. The next guy has been listening and might give you a better deal or the first one might drag you back. Bring only US dollars. Lots of. You get ripped off if you bring Canadian or Euros. The hotel rips you off on the exchange, and they really devalue Canadian dollars. If you must use Canadian ( we had some as backup, which we used), don't change to pesos at home or there. The venders will give you a better rate than the hotel will. Dominicans love US dollars. Barter, Barter, Barter. The hotel stores are more expensive.

Excursions: My daughter loves horse back riding, my son loves dune buggying and ATVs. Queen's Ranch had both. We paid for two hours horse back riding, we only got one. But she got to ride in a dune buggy there and back from the drop off point. Still got ripped off $20. They gave us a $10 credit towards the video of the rides.

Weather: Sunny, hot and humid. Bring your sunscreen, Lots of burnt people. ( Did I say how stupid some are). We got the rooms down to 64.5 degrees F. when we went outside, the glassed fogged up. Thunderstorm of five minutes one night. Last two days were a touch less hot and humid. Touches of cloud. Rained the last night for a half hour. the nightly show went on after. Started to rain on the day we left. Missed the hurricane by about six hours.

The airport departure area is air conditioned. Finish your water and drinks, or you''ll have to leave them before security. Lots of security, K9 dogs, some airlines will go through all of your carry on. Food and drinks are expensive. We brought cheap food containers from home, and packed food in them form the buffet restaurant. Al the stores are very expensive. You should have bought your booze, and t-shirt at the flea market.
We packed everything in our suitecases, just minimal carry on. Not gels, shampoos or cream.
Great resort, busy with lots of people and activities, smile. be patient, be polite, try some spanish, bring school supplies, tip.Say Dr. George sent you. It's 5:42 am, time for bed.
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
 
Mississauga, ON, Canada
June 2006
My sister and I traveled to Punta Cana from June 10-18, 2006. I booked our trip with one of those last minute discount wholesalers. We paid about $700 Canadian each and I admit I was a bit worried right before going because of some of the reviews I had read, not to mention I was worried that it was so cheap because it was a crappy resort. We were pleasantly surprised. Prices are so cheap right now because this time of year is a bit slower for them.

Our flight went smoothly and we arrived at the Punta Cana airport at around 3 in the afternoon on the Saturday. We submitted our tourist card (make sure you’re given one of these when you get your ticket at the airport, otherwise they charge you $10US when you don’t present it to the staff at the Punta Cana airport. This happened to the people in front of us, not a big deal really, they thought they must have dropped theirs somewhere), and went on to pick up our baggage. I was surprised at how quickly all of that went. From there we met up with our travel representative who directed us to the bus that would take us to the resort. Luckily the bus had a/c, it was HOT, but once we got on the bus we were fine.

The bus ride to the resort is about 25 minutes. The guide on the bus spoke mostly English, and did very well I might add. He was very funny and made sure to teach all of us a few very important Spanish words. We arrived and were checked in very quickly. Only about 8 other people were arriving at the same time we were. We were placed in the section of rooms numbered 3201-3226, right across from the main pool that has 2 smaller pools attached as well as the swim up pool bar. If you stay at the IFA Villas Bavaro, you have a bit of a walk to the beach, but why rush when you’re on vacation anyhow? If you don’t want to walk you can take a shuttle which picks you up in the lobby, but seriously, it’s not more than a 5 minute walk and it’s beautiful along the way. We didn’t take the shuttle once. As far as the room, we entered and it was nice and cool. The room is pretty standard. Two double beds, refrigerator with 2 bottles of water inside, TV with cable, stocked bathroom and of course a balcony. There’s also a safe in the closet which we made sure to use, at a cost of $13US for our entire stay…not too shabby. I’ve paid much more than that at other resorts.

We got ourselves unpacked and toured around the resort. By this point it was around 5:30pm, and because it’s not a 24 hour snacks resort the buffets and restaurants are only open at certain times. This never proved to be a problem for us. We went for a walk to see the resort and the beach and then came back for dinner when the buffets opened at 6:30 (they stay open until 10pm). Because you have access to the 3 resorts you can eat at either buffet, but they both have the same food, so it really doesn’t matter which one you choose. The food was good; there was a lot of variety actually. By the end of the week it does seem to get a bit boring, but that’s what happens with buffets. Aside from the buffet, they have an area to create your own pasta dish and to choose a separate special meat dish. I don’t eat a whole lot of meat I never ate from there, but the food did look good. They had pork, beef, hamburgers, hot dogs, stir fry, seafood. They changed it up each day. In the mornings that was also the area where you could have them make you an omelet. The wait staff were great, always quick to refill your drinks and clear your plates when you were finished. We made sure to leave a tip every once in a while, especially at dinner.

With regards to the resort itself, it wasn’t stellar, but it wasn’t bad either. It was always very clean and the staff were all very nice. It did take a while to order a drink from the bar however, but we didn’t drink all that much really, mostly water which you can serve yourself at each bar. My sister and I are in our early 20’s, but we didn’t go to drink all the time, we went to relax and enjoy the sun, so the wait at the bar wasn’t an issue for us. It was easy to get towels and exchange them as necessary. We were surprised by the Mini Market on the resort. If you’re craving chips or chocolate bars, they have quite a few snacks and candies available, and most of them are well known and available in Canada, and I must say it’s nice to know you’re eating something familiar when you’re in a place away from home. The other thing great about the resort was that it didn’t really matter when you went out to the beach or to the pool, you could always get one of the lounge chairs to suntan on. The one’s that were shaded were harder to come by, but only if you wanted it at the peak times of the day. We went out usually around 9:00 or 10:00, sometimes even picked a new spot at 2:00 in the afternoon, and never had trouble finding ourselves a lounger. At the last resort I went to you had to get up at 6:00 to go out and reserve one with your towel! If you need a spa or gym, they were just finishing up some renovations for a new gym and spa, it looked really nice! They had a gym available elsewhere in the meantime if you felt like using it. If you’re going to a resort for the nightlife, this isn’t your resort. They have Bingo every night and a little show as well, but that’s about it, not much happens after about 9pm. For the most part, it’s a very family oriented resort.

We spent one morning doing some shopping at the flea market near our resort. There are many vendors and most of them are all very nice and are certainly very charming when 2 young ladies come up. I have to say though, be careful when you go shopping at these places, not because of safety reasons, but because it’s very easy to purchase an item for an amount that is unacceptable. I picked up a brown stone necklace and a pink beaded necklace and the vendor wanted $65US for it. I laughed to myself and said that was too much. He proceeded to offer cheaper prices, but I started to walk away. I held up the one necklace and said that I could purchase it at home for $10, so he gave it to me for that amount. It probably isn’t worth that amount even, but I like it and it’s from the Dominican, so I’m happy with it. At every vendor we were given amounts that were way too high, so you have to set yourself a reasonable price in your head and stick with it. Walk away if you have to, they’ll try to work with you. Some money is better than no money. It eventually came down to us saying we only had a specified amount and often that worked. I really was not out to cheat anybody from money, I still think we overpaid for all the items we purchased, but that’s beside the point. Regardless, the vendors were very nice to us.

The best part of our trip was the excursion we went on the day before we left. We went on a snorkeling excursion (Marinarium) that cost $78US each. It was a half day excursion that included snorkeling around corel reef, snorkeling with sharks and sting rays, swimming in a natural ocean pool, drinks, snacks, and dancing. It was loads of fun! You go out on a big boat with about 60 or so people and have a great time.

Our check out and flight home were uneventful. My sister and I got E. Coli from this trip, it hit us when we got home, but I know that this happens at any resort, not just this one specifically, so I certainly would not say that it is IFA’s fault, you can eat improperly cooked meat anywhere in the world. Just make sure any meat you eat is fully cooked and don’t drink the tap water. Make sure to eat lots of starches too; pasta, potatoes, rice, etc. Any guide will tell you these tips.

Overall our trip was pretty good. We went for sun and relaxation and that’s what we got. Had we paid more than $700 all-inclusive I might have expected more, but since we didn’t I think we did rather well.
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
 

June 2006
spent 8 nights at the IFA, pronounced "eye-fa", not I F A, by management. wondered what i had gotten myself into since the prices were nearly half of the others. previously stayed at occidental grand flamenco and riu place so the area was not new. had arranged my own air flight thanks to f/f miles so with taxes, transfers, room, etc cost less than 70.00 per night. i feel compelled to write a review, and to compliment IFA management on a job very well done.

upon arrival at the resort i was very quickly checked in, noticed a room number in the 1000's and ask for a room in the 3000's. they immediately gave me a room in 3508, first floor just east of the main pool and what i would say is the middle of the resort.

First off, clean, the place is clean, clean, clean and they are always cleaning something. second, the beach.. perfect, nothing more can be said. third, food, very good and a ton of choices at every meal.

With the main items covered, clean, beach, food covered what else can you ask for? staff is quite friendly and helpful, animation team is good and always trying hard to make sure your having a good time. drinks are a little slow at the bars but when you have two or three bartenders waiting on 30 people ordering 4 to 6 drinks at a time, lots of them being the little umbrella drinks, you may have to wait 5 minutes. no big deal, just don't wait till your drink is empty before ordering another. Granted, the towels are not the ritz, the pillows are a bit lumpy but still slept like a baby. the a/c worked fine. no card is needed to activate your electricity in the room and no switch on the sliding glass door to turn off the a/c when it is open.

For some replys to previous reviews i read prior to going to punta cana: some birds, the real smart ones, know how to fly in thru the entrance to the buffet as the remainder has netting installed around the buffets. bugs, never saw one in the room..or anywhere else. a few flys but that was it. saw the lawn guys spraying one morning. beach towels were available from 8am to 7pm and you could exchange them hourly if you wanted. refrigerator in room, turn the little thermostat up to coldest. i made mini ice cubes with the little tray included. food to go..saw people taking food out of the buffet with plastic wrap over the plates, so i would say no problem. topless..some around the pool but only a few per day, at the beach maybe 25% were topless. speedos.. probably 40% of the guys wore them but most of the guests are european and that is the style. its kind of funny to see some of the other guys with the shorts down past their knees pulling their shorts up as high as possible to get some sun. toilet paper.. there was always 4 full rolls in the bathroom. staff has no problem filling up your big insulated mug with coke, beer, ice, etc. to go cups are the 10oz plastic cups so do bring an insulated mug with lid. no problems with vendors on the beach, no gracias and they move on. actually, no problems at all. never had any signs of getting sick other than Saturday night fling till 2am with too much cervesa. always had hot water in the shower 7am or 6pm, again no problem.

took a 40 minute chopper ride and for 190 bucks its the best deal. you can really see the area from cap cana to secrets resort. all in all, for the money this place is a best compaired to my other visits to punta cana.
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Anyonebut 
U.S
March 2006
I traveled with my husband to the IFA Villas Bavaro from July 8th-15th, 2005. We are both in our 40s. This was my fifth trip to this wonderful area. I’ve stayed in mostly five and six star resorts like the Melia Caribe, Riu Palace Macao, Palladium Grand, Sunscape PC Grand and the Caribe Princess. IFA Villas Bavaro is a 3 star and we worried for months prior to this trip but we were curious to see if we could do Punta Cana on a budget. I must say that this is the first trip to Punta Cana that we attached a bird theme to. I will explain this later.

We utilized Apple Vacations and flew out of Baltimore. The flight and check in was smooth and uneventful.

Property- There are three distinct areas but you have access to all of the areas of the resort. The villas are at the back of the property (a long walk to the beach) You must cross a street to get to the Ocean Village (middle) and the Bavaro Ocean section (closest to the beach). Some areas are nicely landscaped while others need attention. There is a large area of beach sand at the entrance to the beach covered with a huge green, moldy pool of standing water that certainly is breeding mosquitoes. Some rooms overlook this area in the Bavaro Ocean section. What a view! Many beach showers were moldy so bring rubber flip flops. There are three nice pool areas with new chairs and bars. We saw someone placing chemicals in nightly. They seemed clean. We never used them.

Room- While we booked the villas, we were placed in the Village section in room 3717. We were very grateful because this room is closer to the buffets and lobby. It is also close to the beach. They only give you one large key. You really need two keys when there are two people in a room. They said it was for security reasons but we found this policy strange and inconvenient. I love my guy but we were glued at the hip because of the key policy. How romantic! We arrived at night and were happy to see our lovely second floor very cool, air-conditioned room overlooking what appeared to be a lake. The buildings seemed to be the norm for Punta Cana resorts. The room had two double beds despite our clearly married appearance but we didn’t complain. The room seemed small but had all of the basics and a nice balcony with chairs. The tub paint was peeling a bit but so what. There was a shower dispenser with soap, shampoo and conditioner. We felt that the place could work. The refrigerator was stocked with two large bottles of spring water only. It was restocked often. No sodas or beer but that was ok. You could always get sodas from the gift shop or bring them with you along with snacks. Unfortunately, before the light of day, (4:40 AM), I began to hear multiple cries of “Cock A Doodle Doo”. I hoped that I was dreaming about roosters but it wouldn’t go away. I couldn’t see them from the balcony but they were under there somewhere. The light of day revealed the manmade lake with ugly construction and yes, there were those two roosters running in the bushes. At approximately 8 AM a loud dredging machine was turned on. It remained on all day until 5 PM daily. My husband convinced me to deal with this racket for two days before we were moved without a fuss to a nicer 3rd floor room in the Bavaro Ocean section (bldg. 4200) closer to the beach and away from the noise and those roosters. The room seemed bigger with vaulted ceilings. We had two beds again but we laughed it off. At least we overlooked a quiet courtyard with no roosters or other birds. Don’t expect 300 thread count sheets. The bedding was not soft nor was the mattress.

The Weird- We received a note with our names on it after the first night from the front desk. When we reported there, they accused us of breaking a lamp in the room. We had been there literally hours and had not had a chance to touch very much in the room. We were sure that they were mistaken and they said that they would check into it. There were some rowdy individuals in two rooms on our floor (shaving cream toilet paper pranks in the hall etc.) We never heard more about the lamp and our lamps appeared to be fine. We never heard more about it but it left a bad feeling early on. Would we be charged etc.? Would we need to battle it out over this lamp?

Beach- The beach was gorgeous and clean with white sand . There were lots of tall palms but shade was hard to locate. The trees are so tall, they cover little. There are no palapas. The chairs weren’t new out on the beach so you really had to search for good ones that weren’t broken. The place wasn’t full and we had no problems finding chairs or spots daily. There is fabulous snorkeling directly from the beach so take your own equipment. The activities staff work hard to include you in dance lessons, volleyball etc. The blue water beach was the highlight of our trip and was very relaxing. We camped out right near the beach restaurant and bar and had a great time out there. We took no excursions or tours. We’ve done them all previously.

Food/Restaurants- There was good bad and ugly involved with the food. Unlike other resorts, they really seasoned the food and it was tasty in my opinion. I loved the chicken and fish and there were lots of veggies for the health conscious. I don’t eat red meat and found plenty to eat. I gained weight during the trip. The food was good in the beach restaurant daily. They always had roasted chicken, beef and fish. Lots of hamburgers and fries for those who love that. You couldn’t go wrong. We loved the Mexican and Dominican ala carte restaurants. The food was wonderful. They both had self serve bars that made the a al cartes better. The fajita/taco chef was fabulous in the Mexican. It was the only place I found wonderful tortilla chips salsa and guacamole. I guess you have to go to Mexico for that. They need those in the beach restaurant daily. We visited the Mexican place twice. We never tried the seafood place. I like desserts expecially the flan but it often had fruit flies on it. This saddened me most days but saved my waistline at the same time. None of the restaurants seemed to enforce any kind of dress code which was nice. We wore our shorts and flip flops everywhere. There was also a beach barbecue one night with entertainment on a stage. You do have to make reservations one day ahead in the ala cartes which is a problem for the first two days of eating if you arrive at night and miss the reservations held in the lobby from 9 am-1pm.. You have just the one buffet to use in the meantime unless they open the beach barbecue at the beach. That was disappointing but the buffet food varied nightly and was pretty good. The service was always great in any food service area. Everyone was friendly. We tipped dollars most of the time because the service was perfect. At times I felt something run over my feet only to discover that roosters and chickens were allowed to walk through the buffet. That didn’t make me happy and I was growing tired of flying animals. One hen had chicks running behind her. To make matters worse, black birds would swoop in at times and eat heartily from the cold cheese buffets and the fruit buffets in both buffet places. No one seemed to care. I watched people scoop up food right after seeing the birds feasting on the buffets. There were lots of fruit flies on the fruit and desserts. I think covers may be needed. We tried to pick from the bottom but boy does the mind play with you when you do this. Also, the omelet chef sweats profusely. I know that it is hot, but I saw sweat drip onto the grill and I saw him repeatedly wipe his face with his apron. Things that make you go hmmmm. Needless to say, omelettes weren’t on my menu. This may seem minor to some but the chairs were badly stained in the main buffet and the red placemats were moldy in some places. I couldn’t understand it. It is such an easy fix. They could simply set the tables without those awful placemats. By the way, the local Jellyfish restaurant is right next to the property if you ever get bored with the food and want to try something different. Many tried this and I understand the prices are reasonable.

Health/Fitness- You will lose your workout here. The open air gym over the gift shop was extremely poor with a couple of bikes, an old stepper and some rusty free weights. If you are into working out, pick a different resort. This was a problem for me and caused a definite weight gain. One day, I chased one of the roosters. Perhaps this may work for exercise. We both experienced bug bites but couldn’t tell whether they were from sand fleas, bed bugs or the dark of night. We used our bug spray frequently but still had bites from unknown sources. While we experienced no illness that ruined our vacation, my husband experienced slight discomfort one evening and I had issues during the return trip home but nothing horrible. We aren’t alcohol drinkers but we noticed that the bartenders rinse blenders and coffee pots with tap water and simply make your beverage right in the wet pot or container. I do not believe that the bar tap water was filtered and this worried me as I ordered virgin drinks and wonderful cappuccino at the bar. My favorite bar was in the lobby area at the villas. We spent a lovely afternoon in there waiting for transportation home. There was a breeze in there.

Night Entertainment- I loved the nightly shows which were in the villas section at the outdoor theater. My husband didn’t . They were typical Punta Cana fare. Some shows were dance shows and others were audience participation. Some shows included singers who I think may have lip synched but were good anyway. I also got a kick out of a dance number where the dancers were dressed as roosters. For some reason that number wasn’t amusing to me. The young people loved the disco at the beach restaurant. We went down there one night for fun. There wasn’t much else to do at night but this is normal. Our sunburn was so bad that we wanted to stay in the cool room and medicate our wounds anyway. The TV had few English channels, so take lots of reading material.

Shopping- You don’t need to leave the resort for shopping. There is a gift shop at every turn in the resort. There are many shopping areas on the beach to the left or right of the resort. Feel free to bargain and haggle if you wish. We bought nothing on this trip. My paintings are still collecting dust in the basement and those T shirts shrink over time. There is a nice area in the main lobby with four laptops for home communication. Five dollars for ˝ hour was a bargain when you compare it to the cost of a phone call.

Overall Assessment- The trip certainly improved after the room change. We dealt with the food and bird issues. At $750 per person, we believe that we actually were able to pull off the great budget vacation. We had a lovely time on the beach which is why we went and the snorkeling on Bavaro Beach was priceless. If you can overlook some of the five and six star amenities for a week, you can have a great restful time. We probably wouldn’t return because of the birds and food issues. We also need a good gym. With a little fixing up, this resort could easily be a five star. Also, strolling roosters and hens are not a good idea for a resort but if you can deal with it, by all means book this one.
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Vancouver 

March 2006
We just returned from 2 Fantastic weeks at the IFA Bavaro Resort (Villas,Village,Ocean) from Feb 16-March 2.

Flight: left Vancouver,BC on Air Transat,great flight and just over 6 1/2 hours with the jet stream.Went thru customs no problem,grabbed ourselves a cold Prsidente cervesa (beer) just outside the airport for our bus ride to the Resort $3 US.The ride was only 20-25 minutes.

Check In:We were pretty much first in line and got a room on the 3rd floor 3800 block Ocean section which was a nice room with high vaulted ceilings.Got settled in room and headed to buffet for a bite and then to the Village Pool Bar for some cocktails.We did move 2 days later as we wanted an ocean view but ended up on 2nd floor with a partial ocean view which was really nice in room# 4414.

Restaurants: You really can't complain about the food as there is lots to choose from. Breakfast there was lots of fruit,yogurt,smoothies,meats,cheeses,french toast,pancakes,croissants,sausages,bacon and they would have a station to make you omelettes or fried eggs.
Lunch there was 2 Buffets with lots of meats,salads,fruit,cheeses,pasta,chicken etc.We would mainly be at the beach where the Beach restaurant had great hamburgers,hotdogs,salad & fruits.They also had a Calamari dish that looked like Paella, alot of people were eating it but we never tried it. Dinner you had a choice of the 2 Buffets which had lots to choose from or 4 a-la-cartes,Mexican,Japanese,Caribe and the Beach (International) restaurants.We never tried the Japanese but the Caribe & Mexican were great and we wished we had tried them sooner.You do have to line up to make reservations the day before at 3PM in the main lobby to reserve and we didn't want to make many commitments of what time we were to eat or do anything.

Rooms:In our first room were a few ants but hey you are in the tropics on a beach and with a quick call you can have them spray.People do bring food and sugary drinks to the rooms so that can bring them in.We made sure we did not drop crumbs or leave dirty dishes or glasses around.The second room did not have any ants and was quite nice.Our tub was not peeling like some people have said it only had one chip that had rusted (god forbid).Our air conditioning was great but we mainly just left the fan on.Our little fridge was COLD which some other resorts I have stayed in were not.We even had a little freezer.Our fridge was never stocked as we kept our same water bottle and refilled it at the bars.We also kept our snacks in there so as not to attract any ants etc.My only complaint was the lighting in the room was low and with 3 females in the room the bathroom mirror had a line-up but no big deal.

Beach:What can I say "AWESOME",best beach I have ever been to.I have been to most resort areas in Mexico including Cancun,Playa del Carmen,Akumal,Varadero Cuba and this one beats them all hands down.

Excursions: We only went on the Saona Island tour and that was a memory I will never forget,what a day! Caught our bus from the main lobby at 8am and went through the countryside passing Higuey (a small little town) and the farm lands.We saw sugar cane,orange trees,farm land with cattle,horses.This was about 1 1/2-2 hours but we also had Alejandro(our tour guide)telling us all about the area which I fully enjoyed.We then left from a Hotel (Grand something?)on a speed boat out on the Caribbean Sea which was awesome.We then stopped in the natural pool in the ocean which is waist deep and swam around while they handed out rum & cokes.There was a guy videoing the whole thing and after you can purchase the DVD for $40 US.They also take your picture before you get on the speed boat and put it on a bottle of rum which you can purchase for $12.We then took off to Saona Island for a few hours for a great lunch more rum & cokes and to wander the beach and swim in the rolling waves.Then on to the Catamaran to sail back.On the bus ride back we stopped at a market where you could buy all sorts of paintings,carvings,rum,vanilla,etc.We got back to the Hotel by 7PM.This was $85 US and well worth every penny to me.

Weather:Sunny and hot pretty much every day.There were clouds and a nice breeze which gave some relief from the heat.It spitted rain outside on 3 different days for 5 minutes or so but did not bother me when I was walking the beach or out at the pool.It also rained quite hard one night that I was told about cause I never woke up to see it but by morning it was hot and blue skies again.

All in all this resort was well worth the money and I would definately return if another good price came up.The people were wonderful but make sure you smile,are polite,say Hola and they do everything to make your stay at the Hotel a good one. If you have any other questions please e-mail me at rockymountain@telus.net
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Shelley 
Canada
March 2006
My husband and I just got back from 2 weeks at ifa bavaro in Puta Cana.We had a wonderful time.

The beach was wide and longer than we could possibly walk.The beaches are 5 star.

The food was okay. There was a pretty good variety . As usual , the breakfasts are great. Lunch at the beach was good and dinner was a little disappointing. 3*

To go to a al a carte rest. you have to line up for about 30 minutes in the front lobby to get a reservation at a reasonable hour.We enjoyed the Mex. ,International, and you have to go to the Caribe just to read the menu ;it's really funny. Their english translation is almost as bad as our spanish translation.

The bars were great. The booze is DOMESTIC. If you see something at the bar that you can get at home it is not domestic. We saw a guy order a black Russian ( Absolut vodka and Kailua ) . That cost him $14.00 U.S. So if you want to drink something like bailey's get it at duty free on your way down. The house wine sucks served warm or cold.The good news is they have diet coke . The beer is great and their rum drinks are good. Try a few different drinks and see which is your fav. We saw about 4 mosquitoes and they seem to like to hang out in the bathrooms. No big deal. They play local music at all the bars and restaurants which sounds great , but it is very loud and plays very early until very late. We stayed in a building close to the ocean. We were in room 4318 , which is 2nd floor , beside one of the two buffet restaurant. Every thing worked and our room was very nice. Our maid was almost useless. She emptied the garbage , made the bed so when you try to get in it, the sheets all come out and she swept our floor. We left her a dollar, lady bic razor,colorful hair tieback and a perfume sample each morning for 3 days. When she set a new roll of toilet on top of an empty roll , we decided to clean our own room and save some money and give all our goodies to the people cleaning public bathrooms and gardening staff.

The music starts at 8:00 a.m. until 11:p.m. Then the disco by the beach is running from 11:00 p.m. til 3:00 a.m. It seemed the best buildings to be in are in 3100 to 4300. They also have a huge area which is all 1 story bungalows. It is a very very very long walk to the beach. If you get to beach and have forgot something , you're going to be very upset. You can call for a little truck to come and pick you up and take you to the main lobby and then get on the big truck which will take you to the beach.

We had once heard that the staff make about $13.00 per month. That's not true , so pay for good service and not for lousy service. If they made that little the service would be better.

We went on a snorkel tour called marinarium. We enjoyed it but when we got to the shark and ray "reserve" we were a little disturbed. It seems caged means reserve in their eyes. Other than that it was alot of fun.

We also went on the Outback Jungle Safari which was also very good. Our tour guide was Kevin. His English is very good and he was very informative.We enjoyed our day. We booked through our rep. so we had no worries , but it was expensive.

There is quit a bit of topless at the pool and the beach. Probably 20 % of the women were topless and about the same for men in Speedos .

We had a wonderful time .The staff were mostly friendly , depending on how friendly you are. We paid for a 3 1/2 star , we expected a 3 1/2 star and that's what we got. The grounds were very clean and well maintained.The pool areas were very nice also. This resort was as good as any other 3 1/2 star we stayed in. If your budget is 3 to 4 star this place is great. We never go back to the same place twice but I would have no problem staying there again.
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
 

February 2006
I have never written a hotel review before but I feel I must this time. We are 2 middle aged couples who have been in Punta Cana 10 times in 9 different all-inclusive resorts. We went to IFA Village Beach Resort November of last year. I must say this is by far the worst hotel we have ever been there.

The day we arrived the other couple had to get their room 3704 changed in the middle of the night because their air conditioning didn’t work. Because of the rush they left a full bottle of shampoo in the washroom. Next day they asked for it but it never appeared and nothing was done about it. We were assigned room 3703 on the ground floor. On the third day I woke up walking on the sewage of the rooms above because the sewer was blocked. They had to change us to a room on a second floor.

Some other details about the rooms and accesses: Public walkways had the lights removed (I guess to save electricity), actually ripped right off the wall. You could see on the walls where they had been. Same thing in the balconies. Twice they put towels ripped in half in the bathroom; one half for each person. The pillows were very old and full of matted balls. In regards to the rest:

Clean beach towels were never available.

70% of the reclining chairs on the beach were broken. The gym was a joke.

Non motorized sports were not free. They charged us US$15 for the use of a hobbie-cat for an hour. There are no pedal boats. The food was the worst we have ever had in the Dominican Republic: Juices are fake, marmalade and jam of the cheapest kind available in the country, same for all alcoholic beverages. Oil was un-edible, one day at breakfast the milk was sour. At the Caribean a-la-carte restaurant there was no regular wine available. If you wanted to drink wine with your dinner, you had to pay extra. The service at that restaurant was so lousy we stood up and left after 10 minutes. Buffet food was poor to say the least.

All in all a hotel without love, without care for the customers. Please take notice that all 4 of us are South Americans, therefore it is not a matter of cultural differences. Also what I said at the beginning; we are comparing this so called 3 1/2 or 4 star hotel with 8 other all-inclusive hotels in the same area and with the same number of stars.

Our advice is, no matter how cheap they offer this hotel to you, pick something else.
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Rod and Rachel 
Canada
February 2006
We are a couple in our 40s and have been to Punta Cana about 20 times and 6 time to this resort. This place is excellent value for the money.

Flight: We flew out of Ottawa with Canjet. Our flight was uneventful other than we were delayed 1 hour, going and coming. We had misplaced our "free luggage" letter and to our surprise the checking person, who was very pleasant said "don't worry I have it on file you have a free bag". The plane was a 737-500 which seats 118 people, we sat at the exit window and enjoyed the extra leg room. It took 5.5 hours to fly to Punta Cana which I found long, smaller plane I guess. The crew were great and made our flight very enjoyable.

Arrival/Checkin: We had previously sent the Resort a request for a room 4330 top floor with an ocean view. The responsible person/manager had already notified us by email that we would get the requested room. So when we arrived, we simply mentioned our names and signed a form, off we went to our ocean view room in the Ocean section - no problem. The only problem with this room is you are facing the disco and it can be loud.

Rooms/resort: This resort was recently bought from Barcelo, they are in transition. They are adding a new Spa and want to build another 500 suites on the beach.

The rooms need to be upgraded, they are basic but everything worked fine. When we arrived the air conditioner sounded like a freight train, a simple call to reception and they came and repaired it (I think it was the fan rubbing on something). The bathroom tub had previously been painted??? and was chipping. We mentioned it at the reception and they asked if we would mind men working in our room, we said "No we wouldn't mind", but nothing ever happened???

There was a mini fridge in the room and was stocked with water, coke and sprite (no cervesa), was replenished everyday including bottled water.

The maid did her basic job, we gave tips and things everyday.

Food: There are 2 buffets which serve the regular stuff where you can always find something to eat. We found the food to always be fresh. At breakfast they have 4 different kinds of fresh juice, it was delicious. I noticed most would go to the dark orange juice fountain, we figured it tasted like Tang, not our favorite.

My husband is very creative at the buffet, for lunch he would toast a long bun, dress it up with chicken, oignons, tomatoes, lettuce and peppers and called it his version of a sub sandwich. Yummy!! He also ordered some garlic (ajo por favor) one evening and made us garlic bread to go with our spaghetti. They brought us the garlic all chopped in olive oil, he toasted some bread and spread it over it ;)

Ala Cartes: They have 4 AlaCartes, a Mexican, a Japanese, The Caribe Steak restaurant, and one the Beach (don't remember the name). Our favourite was the Mexican, then Caribe, then Japanese, our least favourite was the beach ala carte.

The beach: For us this is the nicest beach, it is wide and long. We snorkelled right off the beach with our own gear. It was ok.

Beach Chairs: We arrived at the beach on our first day at around 10a.m. , there was not 1 chair to be found. The next morning my husband got up at 7 a.m. to go and reserve a place and found it a challenge to find a free chair, people must get up around 6 or 6:30 to go reserve.

We had our chairs taken from us 3 times, they simply ditch your towels on another chair. One day they took the chair and the towel, we found this to be very rude. We do not really agree with reserving a chair with a towel - unfortunately we could not find any other option.

On our last week there they were replacing all the older hard plastic chairs with brand new soft ones and added extras.

The disco: We met some fun people and went to the disco on a couple of nights. It was a good time. The disco usually closes at 2a.m, sometime later. There are no cover charges and drinks are free.

Excursions: We have done most of the excursions on the Island, for the most part - they have been good.

During this vacation - we were 3 couples all from Ottawa, all going to different resorts. So we decided it would be fun to go on a quiet excursion by ourselves just the 6 of us. We had pre-organised this from Ottawa. We all met on a specified day, time and place. The captain was great and very knowledgable, he was a very safe driver and helpful. We anchored the boat right next to were most snorkle excursions were at. The fish were far and few apart, in one spot we saw a large Baracuda roaming, we figured he scared most of the other fish away. We had lunch at Cabeza de Toro's Pulpo Cojo restaurant in a little fisherman's village, it was cheap and good.

At the end of the excursion on our way back to the hotel we all went for a swim and cervesa in the natural pool, fun fun fun. Then the Captain dropped us all off at our resorts. All in all it was a pleasent afternoon, everybody enjoyed it.

As for the resort - It's good value for the money. If you want Hilton quality/amnesties, look elsewhere.
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Kevin 
Canada
February 2006
We just got back from a one week stay at the IFA Villas Bavaro Resort from Feb. 7th to Feb. 14th. Contrary to some of the negative reviews that have been posted about this resort we found this place to be extremely charming and its amenities to be very satisfactory.

When we checked in, the resort was almost deserted as they were in their mid-week lull so we automatically got an upgrade from the Villas Bavaro section, which we paid for, to the Ocean Bavaro section which is the prime area right near the beach. We didn't even have to ask for it. The rooms are clean, well furnished and well maintained but it's a good thing that I brought a travel clock along as there was no clock radio in the room. If you leave a small tip for the maids you'll find that they'll go the extra mile for you like giving you extra towels and rolls of toilet paper. There is a surprizing amount of English television that is available there and the Spanish subtitles are a help in improving your Spanish language skills. Although most of the staff have a limited knowledge of English, they get a kick out of having us try and speak Spanish and no matter how much we butcher their language they are more than willing to accomodate us. They love to joke around with you and will help you with some simple Spanish phrases. A little effort from us will go a long way with them.

As for the buffet restaurants on the resort they are decent but not great. The one right by the lobby is better than the other as far as selection and quality of food go. Their oven roasted chicken is absolutely delicious and I was glad to see that it was a regular item in their selection. Their fish dishes are also very good, particularly the haddock, and their pizzas are great. The selection of fruit is delicious as you would expect it to be in that part of the world and in the morning they make these great smoothies with it. The quality of their beef, however, is debatable and I suspect that it may have been the cause of some minor stomach problems that I encountered. Once I started to avoid the beef the problems stopped. The wait staff are all very friendly and courteous and they like to joke around with you too which makes it that much more fun. We were fortunate enough to have sampled all 3 specialty restaurants which you have to stand in line to make reservations for the day before. Although you can make reservations between 4:00 and 7:00 PM, be prepared to start standing in line from 3:00 PM if you want to get in. The food is definitely a notch above what you will find in the buffets and the service is very quick.

The animators who lead the activities are super, particularly Roberto who is a real character. The activities are usually dance oriented and they'll do pool aerobics every morning....if you're into that sort of thing. These people are also the cast of the nightly entertainment that is put on. They have a different show every night. Although these guys are very talented, the shows themselves tend to be a bit corny.

The beach is absolutely gorgeous, although I was a bit disappointed to see that it wasn't the true white sand that I was hoping for. If you don't reserve your chair by at least 7:30 AM you'll be out of luck. It's even worse for the poolside chairs. It shouldn't have to be that competitive. We're on vacation after all and there to relax. Why should we have to panic every morning about getting a chair?

The shops on the resort are pretty much what you would expect them to be with beach stuff and souvenirs as their main focus. One of the shops has 4 laptop computers with internet service. You can buy a block of 30 minutes of internet time for $3.00 U.S. which is good for a period of 24 hrs. It's great to check on your e-mail and get some news from home. There is also a flea market on the beach. These guys have all the typical things you would expect from t-shirts and beachwear to jewelery, rum, cigars and other souvenirs. If you don't mind aggressive salesmen and if you're in the mood to haggle it could be a good place to shop, but keep in mind that your nerves will be pretty frazzled after an outing there. They are relentless in trying to get you to come into their booths and don't be too surprized at their starting prices. The basic rule of thumb is that whatever price you are quoted you immediately offer a quarter of that. You'll negociate back and forth but don't pay more than half of the original asking price. It's a real game to them but for someone who is trying to relax on vacation it can be a bit much. If you really want to do some shopping with a lot less hassles, take a local bus into Cortecito (about 10-15 minutes away) for 20 pesos (50 cents) and there is a whole strip of beach shops there where the salesmen are a lot less aggressive and the prices are much more reasonable.

All in all our experience there was great. Even when the resort got full over the weekend we never had a problem getting served or waited to get a drink. The staff is great and will be more than willing to serve you. For anyone who says that the staff is rude and unaccomodating, I have to wonder how they must have treated these people in the first place.
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Lyndsay 

February 2006
We just returned from a two week stay at Ifa Villas Bavaros from Jan 26 to Feb 9th.We were at room 1211, 1210 and 1207. There were 7 of us and I know we won't go back. We flew sky service, which was fine. Tiny seats and no room but I guess that's normal. Check in went fine but once we told the lobby assistants our room number they acted like we were asking them to donate blood! Then we learned our rooms were like a 10 minute walk from the lobby which was still about 8 minutes from the beach. Thankfully they had a trolly, sort of like a golf cart with a trailor. They drive a little crazy but it saved us a lot of time. (It was however really noisy and would wake us up early in the morning and late at night when it would drive by). The rooms looked like something from a 1970's cheap motel. I was disappointed to open the frige and find two bottles of water and that's all. We were expecting a stocked mini fridge with pop, beer, etc...nope. We were then informed we had to keep our two bottles of water and refill them oursleves at the bars. When we lost them, after using them for 10 days, it was a real hassle to get them replaced. The service really wasn't very good at all. We often waited for 15 or more minutes for a drink at the buffets and the bars. Some staff were often rude! The food was, well, mostly okay. If you could get a reservation for one of the restaurants you were sitting pretty. The food was awesome and the service was exceptional but if you were stuck with the buffets, have fun!! I was really disappointed with the lack of fresh fruit juice. All the juice was really sugary and powder based. The beach was beautiful!!! The disco was fun, but always consistant. Also difficult to get a drink there. The swim up bar was a joke. You could sit there but unless you stood up on a stool and got their attention ( which is way harder than it sounds) you would get NO service. We went on the Saona Island day trip. DO THAT IT WAS AMAZING! We also went on the Caribbean Festival boat trip which was also fun. I wish I had more good to say. This resort calls itself a 4 star. Please don't be fooled!
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Denise 

January 2006
I just returned from a five days, four night trip (1/6/06 - 1/10/06) to the IFA Villas Bavaro, Dominican Republic. My overall opinion on the resort was that it was satisfactory in all areas. The food was edible, but not delicious. The room was clean, but not very inviting and comfortable. The entertainment was minimal, but fine. And the staff service was mediocre and not very accommodating.

The beaches are spectacular and absolutely nothing detracts from their beauty!

We had a nice time, but I will not return to this resort. I would, however, recommend this hotel to someone who has limited funds, is new to traveling in the Caribbean, or has not yet experienced a higher standard of accommodations. Anyone who is used to cruising and/or four to five star hotels will be a bit disappointed.

Some tips that I wish I had known prior to going to this resort: Bring your own beach towel (They will only give you one a day and if it gets sandy or wet, you are out of luck), Pack a 1,000 sheet roll of toilet paper (one 200 sheet roll of theirs lasts one day and they do not readily replace it),

Bring snack foods that you like (chips cost 6 American dollars per bag), Go online and print some useful Spanish phrases and words (hotel staff have very limited knowledge of other languages), Attend the brief orientation conducted by your travel source at the hotel (this is where you get your airport transfer information to go home),

Reserve your lounge chairs on the beach or by the pool early in the morning (6:00 AM) by laying your towel on it (if you don't you will not have a lounge chair since quantities are limited and other vacationers before you will have caught onto this idea),

If you enjoy mixed drinks, go online and research the types of alcoholic drinks native to the Dominicans (their bars and wait staff are not familiar with American mixed drink recipes),

Bring a small insulated water bottle (they have water coolers at each bar to refill your bottles), Bring a pen (sounds funny, I know, but there are immigration forms to/from the airports and it is a pain to share one pen between 3 or more persons), Make sure you have enough cash ($10 American dollars per person) to purchase the required Tourist Card at the airport when you arrive in Punta Cana - YOU NEED TO PURCHASE THIS CARD FOR EVERY PERSON PRIOR TO GOING THROUGH THE IMMIGRATION LINE.

Do not purchase a phone card from the hotel or your tourist representative as they will not connect from the telephones located in the rooms.

Good luck!
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Stef  
Canada Leanne ~ Rhode Island
December 2005
Hubby & I just returned from one week at the IFA Bavaro Ocean Beach Hotel Nov 24-Dec 3 2005.

Flew out on Skyservice. Flight was uneventful. We lined up early at Pearson and managed to secure emergency exit seating for maximum leg room. Food was ok and the movie was entertaining.

The airport was chaos. It seems the green tourist cards are non valid and they take them from you only to issue blue ones that require the same information to be filled in as the green ones. Then you turn in the blue ones for a small “business” sized card that is stapled to your passport. Same procedure on the way back. Fill in a blue card to surrender to customs so that they can now remove the small card from your passport. Hopefully all will be organized to run more smoothly in the New Year.

Hotel check in was quick. We arrived at approximately 10:30pm. The porter was quick to take us up to the room which was clean and looked like it had been recently upgraded (Dominican Style). There were new tiles on the floor and in the bathroom but the bathtub had been painted with latex paint and was now peeling. No worries, we were only there to clean up, change & sleep in the rooms. No bugs. The mini fridge only contained water and the safe (which we paid a deposit for) seemed a little flimsy with the locking device but it was adequate. The beds were our biggest complaint. Hard, hard, hard mattresses. By day 3 our bones and muscles ached so much that a good nights sleep could only be obtained by over indulging in alcohol before bed or a good dose of Ibuprofen to relax the muscles.

The air conditioning worked well as did all the plumbing. We had hot water each day. The maid missed doing our rooms one day. A call to guest services had our room tidy and clean by the time we returned from dinner.

We only went to one ala Carte restaurant. It was a steak house type of restaurant and the steak was perfect. Nice atmosphere too.

The grounds are very well kept. Walkways are hosed down every other day. The pools are clean. Abundance of loungers. The only mess is the one made by all of the plastic drink cups blowing around. Another reason to bring an insulated mug to cut down on the garbage. The towels were worn but clean. We didn’t care. We were there for the weather and to relax.

We did tip the bar tenders and the servers even at the buffets. They worked very hard to please us and to keep the tables clear and your drinks topped up. We heard a few people complain. They all were from the same decent (as noted in the forums…no surprise there). These people are always the rude ones, but, a smile to your server and a kind “muchas gracias” and soon the others begin to wonder why their plates aren’t cleared or their drinks aren’t topped off with the same service as are yours.

If you’re picky about sharing your dining area with the local animals… don’t go to the Dominican. The open concept dining areas of the buffets allowed for brave blackbirds to fly in and try to coax a crumb or two from the diners. The staff were diligent at chasing them out whenever possible. This place is not for you if you are queasy about the possibility that a bird may have walked across your table.

The food was plentiful. There was even something to eat on the days when my tummy just wasn’t up to a full meal. We ate fresh fruit & veggies, pasta (with the cream sauces), meats, cooked veggies, tried the Dominican local fare, breads, pastries… you name it. We did expect the possibility of having a little gastric displacement and brought the appropriate cure(s). (Imodium & Pepto).

The beach was beautiful. The weather was perfect. A few short rain showers followed by sun, sun, sun. The ocean water was warm. There were a few days where the waves were coming up onto the shore quite high, but by mid afternoon the waters calmed down and it was prime for swimming and snorkeling. We took a long walk on the beach each morning passing workers cleaning the beach and beach vendors. We befriended one vender at a beach market. On each subsequent visit we just told the vendors that we were there to see Eddie Montana. Knowing that we were only buying from one person there seemed to make everyone back off and not pressure you into their section of the beach market.

Although this resort is a 3 star it is a surprising value for the money. It has everything you need for a relaxing week in the warm weather. If you like the nightlife, there is a disco and a local show each night. We couldn’t stay up for either. (Too much sun, drink & food). Would recommend this resort for anyone with simple needs for a vacation. It is a budget facility for certain. We’ll be returning to Punta Cana in the spring of 2006 but possibly staying at a different resort. We’ll be back here if the price is right.
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Ed 

October 2005
First of the beach is the best you will find anywhere, its worth the price of the resort. We have been to this resort four times, the most recent visit was October 16th to the 23rd 2005. The weather was perfect, resort very nice. Rooms are spacious, not overly beautiful but nice for the week or two week stay.

The service personnel are accommodating, although the breakfast buffet service could have been better, a little slow.

The pools are beautiful, beach the best, the bars are excellent, make sure to ask for alcohol in your drinks or you may not get it. Tip them a dollar or two every so often, it makes them remember you and you get quicker service.

The beach restaurant and bar is the best for lunch because of the spectacular view of the ocean and the activities.

The tours they suggest you go on are all overpriced and not worth the money, the best deal is the $15 or $20 dollar snorkeling tour off the beach, the guy is in the small shack on the beach, he is very accommodating and its the best trip you will do for the cash.

The safari, and shark and dolphin tours are not worth it, the booze cruise boat is also a ripoff, stay away from these, enjoy the beach.

The food at this resort still needs improving, its boring and uneventful, standard buffet stuff, but its OK for a week or so, drinks are always plentiful. The place needs things such as ice machines in the building lobby's, better maid service, fizz in the soft drinks, and some snacks, such as chips or pretzels at the bar, bring these with you if you like them.

As I said the food needs work, make a reservation at the Japanese restaurant, its very good and a change of pace from the buffets. Any questions you may have just email me and I'll try and answer them.

Beware of the beach front shops, the guys will try and rip you off, pay a third of what they are asking, no more.

Have fun if you select this resort, its worth the money for a nice beach vacation, if you would like pictures let me know, my email address is: edcentral1490@yahoo.com
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Leanne 
Rhode Island
April 2005
we just returned from ifa's village beach resort may 1st after a weeks vacation. we are from rhode isalnd (usa). travel down went very smoothly and quickly. no delays at the airport. very speedy check through and onto the bus to ifa. half hour ride to ifa from the airport. we arrived at the hotel @ 12 noon. the room was ready and check in only took 5 minutes or so. porter took our bags for us and we were off. our room was in the 4400 block. room 4425 the last building before you hit the beach path. the room was adequate. nothing fancy and the bathroom could of used i little updating. toilet cracked /shower stall had an old rotted soap dish in the stall that a child could have cut themselves on. we didn't spend much time in the room so all was well. towels are at a premium. it was like pulling teeth to get an extra towel from the maid. nice balcony looking out onto a lawn and the beach grill. they do a great job with activities. the animation staff was wonderful. they work hard to make your stay fun. lots of games and competitions on the beach everyday. 10 am stretching class was fun 12 noon water aerobics, darts, horseshoes, boche, volleyball you name it. afternoon they have funny games and sexy sexy contest. the beach is soft white and pink sand that doesn't get too hot. the animation staff also does shows at night at the stage in the villas portion of the hotel. some were good some amateurish but overall fun. the villas has a beautiful huge pool w/ a tiki bar elevated in the middle. very nice the villas lobby is beautiful w/ a nice bar. couches and comfy chairs. we spent a lot of time here. the al a carte restaurants are all located in the villas section of the complex also. mexican was good and so was the dominican (order the rice pudding). we did not enjoy caribe at all. the beach grill is ala carte and is @ the beach and later @ night turns into the disco. beach grill wasn't bad. you make reservation for all the al a carte restaurants @ the guest services desk in the main lobby. it would be wise to book a couple of days ahead. off the main lobby there is a large pool with a tiki bar. animation team does activities here all day as well as @ the beach. alot of kids at this pool. this is the busiest noisiest pool. nobody @ villas pool ever! and it's beautiful. village pool is the smallest and pretty quiet. there is the lobby bar right off to the side of the village pool. great coffee and espresso machine also. there are 2 buffet restaurants, food so so. fill up at breakfast. lunch at buffets or at the beach grill. pizza not bad . plenty to do or not to do, your choice. take a sailboat , a banana boat ride, snorkel... many possibilities. americans are in the minority here. very helpful to speak a little spanish. there were many canadians and italians, german and spanish when we were there. canadians are a fun bunch! the staff was very friendly and try to be as helpful as possible. i would return in a minute. we found no need to cash dollars into dominican pesos. they love the dollar and it's excepted everywhere. if you go off site for meals the langosta beach restaurant( 5 minute water taxi ride) was great fun. the hotel can make a reservation for you. the boat picks you up on the hotel beach. 2 lb lobsters w/ shrimp calamari etc dessert all your drinks etc. 50.00 dollars 3 piece band to serenade you go in your bathing suit if you like and stroll after lunch or go shopping on the beach. we went into the kitchen it's very clean. this is a better deal than captain cook's restaurant.

we had a great time and would go back. i don't know if i might try a different hotel next time or go w/ what's familiar. overall we like this hotel facility, there is something for everyone.
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Tanja 

April 2005
Our vacation was Mar 24 - 31. We are from Nova Scotia, Canada This was my daughter's (12 years old) and my second time at this resort. We had stayed there early last May with my brother-in-law and his finance. We had a great time then too. This time my husband and my mother came with us. My husband has only been to the opposite side of the Island so he found this a little more laid back and relaxing. It was my mother's first trip and she thought it was great. While my husband slept in we went to the beach at 7:15 every morning and tanned until 10:00. It started getting a little too hot to just be laying there after that. We'd then go for a swim in one of the pools or at the beach. Sometimes we'd wonder up the beach either way. To the right on the beach there is a large shopping area with local trinkets, cigars, coffee, clothing, and art as well as computer access and a pharmacy. To the left and up a little is the Jellyfish bar and restaurant and next to that is a Plaza with more shopping.

Rooms: We were on the third floor in a building between the swim up bar and the lobby bar. It was always clean and the maid stocked the fridge with bottles of water every day. Our phone was broke but that was a blessing because on the second to last night there a large group of Brazilian's (early 20's) came in a partied hard until dawn and were making random calls to rooms and hollaring in the phone at all hours of the early a.m.

Food: The food was always great. I tried a few different things and really enjoyed the omlets that were made to your request for breakfast. George A. is an awesome waiter/bus boy. He always had a smile and my daughter thought he was such a hunk. He works in the buffet before heading down to the beach.

Bars: Most of the bartenders knew what they were doing. Some were new and tried very hard. I only drink beer so it is not easy to mess up but my mother and husband were trying a variety of mixed drinks and sometimes, once they found something they really liked, they'd order it again and it tasted different. Oh well, they had fun trying. My daughter loved the bahamamama's without alcohol. We mainly went to the Lobby Bar (which is not near the lobby). We sat under the roof in the shade and just people watched and relaxed. Tito would stop by and tell us about himself and his life in DR. We are not sure what exactly he does there but he could be found in with the girls in the hairdressing shop or talking to the ladies at the photoshop or at Nathalie's shop. Guess they were his friends. One time he told us he was married but had lots of friends (with a wink). Jose and Jorge are two of the bartenders at this bar.

Pools: The pools and pool decks were cleaned early every morning and always looked beautiful. The pool by the Margarita bar was by far the busiest and most beautiful as there were all kinds of flowers and plants close by.

Most of the staff could speak English or broken English and those that couldn't would try to help as best they could. It didn't bother me they were always friendly and hey we were in their country.

A few tips. Imodium is always a must. I haven't had any bad experiences but last year 4 out of the 6 of us that went to a different resort were really happy that everyone brought large supplies. It helped them through 4 sucky days. If you plan on getting your hair braided shop around for prices. To put extensions in my daughter's hair on the beach was $200 US in the hairdressing shop by the Lobby Bar it was $100 but be prepared. It took 4 hours to put in extensions and braid them. In January it took 45 minutes without getting extensions and it cost $50 US. The exchange rate in the lobby is lower then if you go into Bavaro Plaza. We were getting a rate of 17.5 at the resort and at the Plaza it was 21 at one exchange and 21.5 at another. The Plaza is only a 15 minute drive away. Just grab a cab ($10 US) and you could wonder around and shop the whole day or explore.

Excursions: We only did two excursions. My husband and daughter did the 1/2 day four-wheelers. They went to an abondoned resort and the beach, and a few other places. They video tape this and will sell you a DVD of it if you wish. While they did that my mother and I went on the 1/2 day catamaran trip along the Bavaro beach coast. We went in the afternoon. I was beautiful but long. We stopped at a major snorkeling area and many of us got out and snorkeled. The fish were beautiful. I was upset when our guide, Lorenzo, pointed out that the large dock looking thing had two baby dolphins penned in it in a small area of water no deeper than one meter and they were charging people admission to "swim" with the dolphins. This was more like get in swim to the other side and get out. Manati Park is also a beautiful excursion. We did it last year. It can be a long day in the heat though. Take lots of water and sunblock.

All in all if I had the money I'd be there more often. I loveit in DR. This was my 5 trip in 3 years, my daughters 3rd in 10 months, my husband's 4th and Mom's first. There will be more.
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Angela  
Kelowna, B.C. Canada
March 2005
Flight: Flew out of Calgary with Skyservice. I actually found this plane quite comfortable with lots of leg room. The flight crew was great with good service and average food. We caught some great tail winds and got there in less than 6 hours. The return flight wasn't so short (7.5 hours) and a bathroom was broken. But great nevertheless.

Hotel: After a very scary ride from the airport....those drivers are CRAZY, we checked in with great ease. We were the only ones checking in. We asked for a top floor room near the beach but instead were given a bottom floor. We asked to change and quickly were given a top floor room. We stayed in room 4334 which was in the building closest to the beach but faced the pool instead of the beach. The room was nice although in need of an update. The bathroom was kind of rundown and it was like winning the lottery if we had hot water. The view was nice and we were happy with it.

Pools/Beach/Grounds: There were three pools, one in each section of the hotel. I found that the pool near the Villas was the most beautiful although all 3 were nice. The Village pool was, by far, the busiest and where all the action was. I loved how there was lots of palm trees and greenery on the grounds. It looked very lush. The beach was simply AMAZING. I am still speechless when I think about the white powder soft sand and the green blue water. It was great. I spent as much time as I could at the beach.

Food/Drinks: The rum was TOP NOTCH. The food was average although beautifully presented. Banana Mamas and ChiChi's are a must try! We spent alot of time at the Lobby Bar. The bartenders there were great. Watch out for the Pina Coladas .....a natural laxative.

We enjoyed an afternoon of bartering at the beach market which is to your immediate right once you get to the beach....everything you could ever want is there....and we never paid anything more than a 1/4 of what they originally asked for it. We also walked down the beach to the left for about an hour and got to Capt Cooks restaurant. Very cute little area....and right behind the restaurant is a little mini village with a pharmacy, grocerys and market. It was a little scary but we got some great items.

All in all, it was a wonderful holiday.....i might not go back to this particular resort but that is only because it is nice to try other things sometimes. The staff was great and enthusiastic. The weather was warm and inviting....I've been back 2 weeks and I'm still brown as brown can be.....I can't wait to go back!
IFA Villas Bávaro Beach Resort
Tony 
Vancouver Island, Canada
February 2005
Just back from 2 weeks. I'd go again, somewhere else in Dominican Rep or maybe Cuba. Beautiful place, lovely beach, nice climate for the tropics. Sea breezes keep it cool and almost bug-free. We saw only one mosquito, used the recommended Muskol insect spray, and got only a few bug bites around the ankles that you get anywhere walking in the sand.

IFA working hard to upgrade after recent purchase - all Ocean and Village buildings newly painted, rooms in very good order, spacious, big balconies. Ocean buildings closest to beach. Resort is narrow and long - further back you go, longer to the beach, but they have a shuttle bus. Disco on the beach lights up late - 1130, but didn't stop us sleeping. Before that does a la carte dining by reservation, beautiful setting, and simple beach food during the day - burgers, salads, and open bar.

3 good pools, 3 open bars, really quite good bar drinks and beer (premium brands available for a charge but expensive). 2 pretty good buffet restaurants, food more than fair, plenty of choice but like anywhere gets repetitive. Masses of fruit, salads, baking, meats - grills and roasts, even duck and whole pig sometimes. Evening entertainment tries hard, sometimes a bit amateur, usually the Animation team who work flat out all day at activities, beach games, dance and exercise sessions.

Best way to see the country is the excursion to Higuey, the provincial main town which has a quite spectacular basilica, with lunch stop at the restored 16th century village of Altos los Chavas, and passing through plantations on the coastal plain where sugar cane still hand cut and carried off by ox carts. Well worth the $30 cost (other excursions all very expensive, and we didn't bother). Best way to sightsee locally - Flying Boats: zodiac inflatable attached to an ultralight, operating flights over the local area from the beach with pilot and passenger. $60 though!

Only disadvantage we found was only a few English-speaking guests. Many different European languages makes communication difficult, but the staff try hard although only a few understand anything other than Spanish - take a phrase book! Smiles work well.

Take Peptobismol, imodium and remember careful hand washing before eating. The gastroenteritis outbreak in the resort area has been a problem, but is a risk in any tropical area. Take Sun Lotion. All available locally but expensive.