Old Reviews - Catalonia Bavaro Beach, Golf & Casino Resort
Catalonia Bavaro Resort
Arrival: 6 to 20 Dec. 2008
We just returned from Catalonia, and mainly found it an excellent resort, worthy of 5 stars. All the facilities, the beach, swimming pool, gardens are first class; even the food is as good as possible. Weaknesses are noted below.
Facilities -- well designed, big in scale, in very good condition. Huge reflecting pools around the entrance and dining. Rooms are large, round bathtubs plus a smallish shower; even include a big umbrella. No elevator to third floor. Slight smell of rotting in the drainage channels affects a few rooms. Some main floor rooms lack privacy on their terrace. Housekeeping is normal, has its random glitches, but maids do try.
Dining -- much choice, many extras, from 5 kinds of cold cuts to vodka for a breakfast Bloody Mary, to multiple meats ready to fry on request. Blended breakfast juices are popular. Meats are fried and put out hot, but sometimes big grabbers claim the supply; bacon can be scarce. As anywhere, the menu looks familiar after a few days, but many choices. Staff is very obliging. Self-service for drinks is prevented for some reason. The big problem is birds in the dining area, quite unpleasant and could even cause disease. One must never leave food at one's table unattended. At least the food pickup area is more closed, almost no birds. By the pool, all-day pizza and hamburgers and chicken are popular. The Italian a la carte restaurant is fine as a change. Tuesday is Beach Party dinner, an over-ambitious idea in which they go to great trouble to enable you to eat a reduced-choice buffet dinner in the wind on the beach, with over-determined noisy entertainment.... some do find this romantic, no doubt. Four bars have many choices of drinks, cocktails, liqueurs, a surprise table with irish coffee or some such, plus bottled beer in the room.
Swimming -- pool is big and clean; only problem is the interminable animation: there is no quiet pool. Can be hard to find a seat, since crowds go there all day. The beach is the real Bavaro, with a very wide sand area going back from the ocean, loungers always available in shade of trees (if not uder a cabana). Seaweed is minimal. Still only entices up to twenty swimmers at a time. Quite a few topless sunbathers.
Activities -- everything from archery to kids club to tennis. Even has an acrylic painting class daily (not much teaching, but all the supplies to make memorable tropical paintings). This activity is only accorded a run-down shack. All sorts of land and sea outings available at high prices. Did not enter the small casino or the disco.
Walking -- there is a golf course, pleasant at sunset when golfers are done. Beyond that, a road with just scrub bush for miles. The beach is good for walking in both directions, although has no special features; lot of seaweed, and you need shoes for thorny grass areas. To the left you reach the messy Club Nautico in 45 minutes and then more resorts. In the resort walking is pleasant; there is a very large, beautiful garden area (trees and bushes, not many flowers).
Other -- Shopping is about 6 shops, usual choices, not large. Internet is now $5 per half hour, and free WiFi. Junky art markets await 3 minutes along the beach in both directions. Handicraft tables are set up in the reception area on Friday evenings. Evening entertainment is energetic and loud... and maybe higher quality than other resorts.
In general the resort makes an excellent impression, feels like an excessive attempt to present well. Reception staff is professional and solve most problems.
Catalonia Bavaro Resort
Arrival: November 13 - November 17 2008
We arrived in the Punta Cana airport and the first thing they did was take our pictures with two of the locals, which they want to sell to you when you go home. Don't forget to take $10 per person for what I call an extortion fee, which they charge you before they will allow you to pass thru customs. When you pass customs, you will be acosted by the locals wanting to carry your bags about 30 feet to your transportation. I suggest keep walking and don't stop until you find your transportation. The ride from the airport to the resort is only about 15 minutes.
We arrived at the resort and checked in with no problem. The bell boy took us and our bags on his golf cart to our room.
Our room was on the second floor of the villa, which is only 3 floors high. The room was in very nice shape and was clean. I always left 5 dollars for the cleaning personnel every morning. I never had a problem with the room. The only thing I did find as odd was the fact that they don't leave wash cloths for showering or bathing?? They did leave a sponge which reminded me of a sponge you use to wash your car. Best to take a wash cloth with you I guess.
Restaurants and Bars:
The restaurants, in my opinion were very good. If you are looking for the most amazing food in the world, you won't get it here. Remember, your in the Dominican, and won't get the best Italian dish you ever ate here. Some people forget that and seem disapointed if the food doesn't make their head spin! The pizza they served by the pool was actually very good. They use a wood fired oven to make it. The Grand Caribe buffet was HUGE. Hard to find something you don't like there. The swimup bar was good and is a nice place for starting conversations with the other guests. The bars in all were very nice a well maintained. The only draft beer they have is Presidente. The in room bottle beer was Brahma.
The beach was nice but, seed weed would land on the beach every morning but, the staff always cleaned it up every morning. The water was nice also. Something to keep in mind if you are traveling with children or don't have an open mind is that there are European women there who like to sunbath topless by the beach and the pool area. The pool was very big with lots of room. There is always someone walking around cleaning something.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
I didn't try any of the activities they have on the beach, but they looked neat.The casino is small with about 45 slot machine and one table for each kind of card games. We walked around the little shopping area they havether also with no real deals. On Friday nights, they have local people come to the resort to sell there jewelry, paintings and other knic knacks. They are very aggresive in trying to sell you something! If you are interested in anything they sell NEVER pay what they are asking. My wife picked out some jewelry she liked and they gave her a price of $390 dollars, after she haggled with them, she got them down to $35 dollars!
I would suggest going on the half day snorkling trip they offer. It cost $89 a person but lasts about 3.5 hours. It's more of a party boat than anything which if you like that kind of thing is very enjoyable. You get to snorkle with nurse sharks and stingrays they have corraled in a big holding area. After that you cruise along the coast and get to see other resorts while music is playing, beer and sandwichs are being served. Dancing soon starts also.
All in all not a bad way to spend a couple bucks. It was well worth every nickle i paid for it. I would definatly go back and would recommend the Catalonia. The people here a very nice and always try to please. Some of the workers don't speak english so if they look at you funny when you ask a question, you'll know why.
Catalonia Bavaro Resort
Arrival: November 28 - Decemebr 5, 2008
We arrived at the resort well before the 3 pm check in so we had lunch at the Grand Caribe buffet and then explored the resort. The grounds are beautiful and very well maintained, there are fish, turtles and birds in the ponds. At 3 pm we went back to reception to get our room key.
We were in villa 22, near the pool and beach. The room was large and while the resort is on the older side it was well maintained and clean. There is a shower stall which I had heard was very small. I am a large woman and I didn't find it that bad. I am used to the showers on Cruise ships and the one at the Catalonia was a little bit bigger. The bathtub is huge! They place fresh hibiscus flowers around the bath daily and made swans out of the towels a couple of times. My mother loved the hammock on the balcony and I enjoyed the rocking chair. Not that we go on vacation to watch tv, but there were a number of English speaking channels available if you so desired.
Restaurants and Bars:
The food was ok. We loved the snack bar at the pool which serves the most delicious pizza and rostisserie chicken. We ate at the buffets most days and we were always able to find something to eat there. We didn't try any of the a la cartes, we had decided that we didn't want to get dressed up to eat and so either had the buffet or ate early at the snack bar. On nights when we ate early there was always the hot dog and popcorn stands if we got the munchies later on. I love popcorn and visited the popcorn stand nightly.
The beach was beautiful but we spent most of our time by the pool. The week we were there the water in the ocean was very murky and there was a lot of seaweed. We still went in for a dip nearly every day and spent some time walking along the beach - though we only ventured to the end of the Catalonia resort. The pool was great. I have mobility issues and had no problem getting into and out of the pool. You can walk into the pool at 3 different areas. It was great for me, not having to manage my way up or down steps. Visited the jacuzzi every day and also spent time at the swim up bar. I tried every frozen drink they had and must admit that I loved the Banana Mama. We met a lot of great people and would see them most every day at the swim up bar.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Went to the casino a couple of times. It is small and there were not very many people in there the two times we did go.
The animacion team were great! They were all very friendly and everyone that we spoke to spoke english enough to converse. We also tried to speak to them in Spanish with the limited words we knew and they do appreciate that you try. Two of the animacion team stood out in our opinion, David (Mickey Mouse) and Clarabel were the warmest, friendliest of people we had the pleasure of meeting. They always had big smiles and called us by name whenever they saw us.
All in all we had a great time at the Catalonia and couldn't find anything to complain about during our stay. We are hoping to make it back again next year.
Catalonia Bavaro Resort
Robert Toronto, Canada
good service , skyservice
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
i took bus tours and hotel had some evening shows
very impresed better than veradaro cuba
Catalonia Bavaro Resort
As seasoned cruisers, this was our first time staying at an all-inclusive, as well as our first time in the Dominican Republic. I chose the Catalonia Bavaro based on the many positive reviews here and on other sites, as well as the reasonable cost. Since most of the resort’s amenities (food, rooms, beach, pool, etc.) have been discussed extensively, I’ll just briefly comment on them. However, I’ll offer more information on our experience traveling there with a small child, as well as a comparison of the resort to our typical cruise experience.
Since this was our first all-inclusive resort, I can’t comment on anything compared to other properties. However, this is our experience based on many years of traveling and cruising.
Things we liked:
Beach – lots of chairs and shade, very well maintained; not the clear turquoise waters we’ve seen on other Caribbean islands but very nice and warm
Pool – always spotlessly clean; beautiful design; lots of shade and sunshine depending on your preference
Animation team – plenty to do if you like to participate, but no pressure if it’s not your thing. They also kept the volume reasonable so you could still relax if you didn’t want to play.
Grounds – truly a tropical paradise; gorgeous flowers and plants; meticulously maintained
Pool snack bar – great burgers and super rotisserie chicken. While the pizza didn’t live up to the hype, it was still very good.
No up-selling – this was a truly all-inclusive vacation; no one was trying to sell us photos, excursions, premium drinks, etc.
Things we didn’t like:
Main buffet – I never went hungry, but there was a lot of food sitting under heat lamps for a loooong time. The omelet station in the morning was quite good, and the crepes would have been a bigger hit if they had better toppings (squeeze bottle chocolate???). Also the fresh squeezed juices were quite good. Desserts were a total disappointment. They all looked far better than they tasted. Pastas were good at dinner. Everything else was pretty much a disaster.
Service - While everyone was extremely friendly, it was awfully hard getting a cup of coffee in the morning! DH would get our water, juices etc himself, but we had to flag people down to get coffee – and often remind them again after our initial request. Also, our room was never made up before 5:00 PM. This was only a problem for us on the night that we had a 6:00 dinner reservation.
Lack of air conditioning – I love to eat outdoors, but it is HOT out there! It would be good if there were some indoor seating available at the buffets. Also, while the a la cartes did have ac, it was never cranked up enough for my taste, particularly in the Mexican/steak house. The only air conditioned areas were the a la cartes, individual hotel rooms, and the shops.
Traveling as a Family
We traveled to the Catalonia with our dd, who is nearly 4yo. She had a fantastic time, and I would definitely recommend the resort to families.
There is a kids club on the property, with a small Step 2 swingset, picnic tables, and sandy play area. There’s also a little building (no air conditioning) with a restroom. Indoors they have a small TV playing Spanish language cartoons and a video game system, as well as child-size tables and chairs. Some kids seemed to float in and out all day.
As a mom of a younger child, I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving her there without a parent for a few reasons. First, most of the staff speak little to no English. Secondly, they don’t give you a pager or cell phone or anything, so there’s no way they could contact you in case of emergency. Finally, there didn’t seem to be any real activities. They had a box of broken crayons and paper, as well as a few board games, but that was really it. There were guests there with many different languages, so that obviously affects their capacity to organize any activities, so it’s understandable. But I still wouldn’t leave my young child there on her own. This was just a nice place to stop during the day, where she could play on the swings, color, and get out of the sun for a little while.
Every night there is a Mini Disco, usually starting between 8:20 and 8:30 (though the sign says 8:30). DD absolutely loved this. It was the hit of the vacation for her. They play common children’s songs (chicken dance, hokey pokey, etc.) and all the kids go on stage and do the dances. It’s exactly the same thing every night, which seems to make it even more fun for the kids. At the end of the show, there’s usually some kind of game that the kids play, and the winner gets a small prize. The songs are in a variety of languages, but the hand motions/dances are easy, so all kids of all nationalities enjoyed it.
Meals were easy. There was always something that she could find to nosh on, but she’s not too picky. She adored the pizza and chicken at the snack bar, which is where we lunched every day.
As the resort caters to a largely European clientele, there is a great deal of topless sunbathing. I kept waiting for DD to comment, but she never did so neither did I! This was not a problem at DD’s age, but I think I’d be less comfortable traveling with an adolescent boy (or even girl) since this really isn’t part of our cultural norm. If you are considering the resort with older children, know in advance that the topless sunbathers don’t put their tops on to swim, stroll the beach or join the aqua-fit class (ouch!) so it’s quite noticeable.
Comparison to Cruising
I will definitely visit another AI resort in the future, but I’m not ready to write off cruising just yet. I enjoy the food far more on cruises, and the surroundings on a cruise are definitely more luxurious. However, what could be more luxurious than rolling out of bed and strolling to the beach?
It was great to just hang out and never look at my watch at all. Who cares what time it is? I love cruising but going to the beach can become work when you have to walk down the long pier, deal with a mob of aggressive cab drivers, rent chairs/umbrellas, and then keep an eye on the time so you’re ready and dry when the cab returns. The AI vacation took all of the work out of going to the beach. I did feel less pampered at the end, but I definitely felt more relaxed!
Another positive of the Catalonia vs. cruising is the ability to manage costs. As I mentioned, they didn’t try to sell us anything else once we got there. No one snapped our pictures, hustled drinks, or lured us into the casino. We didn’t have to walk through the shopping area to get to dinner. Tips were given at our discretion, without any sob stories of starving families in third-world countries. This made me want to tip more generously at the Catalonia. And while the service was certainly poorer at the Catalonia than on the typical cruise, I never had the sense that the staff was being falsely friendly in the hopes of a larger tip.
Catalonia Bavaro Resort
Hlywud/the Warden Ontario Canada
We flew out of Toronto on Skyservice A320 in Row 23, very short of leg room. Uneventful relatively smooth flight arrived 5 minutes ahead of schedule time at 10:25 am, customs was very quick, luggage quick and onto bus to resort with Grande Presidente in hand within about 20 minutes of arrival, 10 minutes later we arrived at the resort.
Check in at the resort was very efficient, we were greeted by Assistant Guest Service Manager Laura, who registered us, we waited in the lobby bar to indulge in a couple of cold Presidentes for an hour while our suite was prepared and then the Bell Captain ferried to our beautiful 2 room suite #1823 with a wonderful pool and ocean view from either of the 2 balconies. Within 15 minutes we were back at beach bar for lunch. I previously emailed resort requesting a room with an ocean view on an upper floor. We got exactly what we requested and more, a beautiful 3rd floor Master Suite, with magnificently polished tile floors; king sized bed, lovely sitting area, two balconies with hammocks, a large bathroom with an in bathroom Jacuzzi and separate closet for toilet and shower. Quite a pleasant surprise for us was the beautiful basket of fresh fruits and bottle of Gran Anejo on the sitting room table along with a fridge stocked full of water, pop and ice cold Brahma beer. One word describes these accommodations “Excellent”; while not as modern as the suites in newer resorts it was impeccably clean and comfortable.
There was plenty of shelf space and hangers in closet with a key lock safe available at no charge. The dressing area had two sinks and supplies of shower caps, sewing kit, face cloths, and lots of towels, body lotion, and body gels. We even had a supply of beach towels available in the suite.
The balcony was a good size with two chairs and round table as well as rack for wet bathing suits, as well there wonderful hammock where a person could relax and look over the ocean, the second balcony off the bedroom had 2 chairs and a hammock that afforded a decent view of the pool area.
Maid service was excellent—usually cleaned by noon. Each night we came back to find a turn down service has been provided and a fresh supply of towels.
This resort which is one of the oldest resorts in the Punta Cana region is very nice, and is very well maintained and manicured; the workers never seemed to stop keeping the place spotless.
As far as layout the resort is very easy to get around. Grounds are lovely and have some beautiful foliage and plants with a family of egrets and ducks and geese wandering around their own ponds.
The beach was also better than I anticipated as I had read there was a lot of seaweed in this location, the seaweed present very little problems and was raked up and hauled away early every morning as well the entire beach area was lightly raked to remove any debris that may have been left from the previous day by the guests. One must be made aware that towards the northern end of the beach there are some coral formations in the water and we would recommend surf shoes in the area from the beach bar north to the property boundary.
There were plenty loungers available at the beach and the pool with adequate shade available.
We had been notified that the pool area was construction before we departed but were pleasantly surprised to find it was completed and very well done, with new decking and new tiles around the pool area. Service at the pool bar and swim up bar was quite good and all empty glasses and food plates were picked up by staff quickly, so there was no debris or garbage laying around in the hot sun. The pool was a popular spot in the afternoon especially if any the sand started to blow on the beach but it was very hot and one had to avail themselves of the water frequently to stay cool. Temperatures for the week ranged between 30C and 34C with a light breeze blowing at all times.
Food and service was excellent in all the a la carte restaurants on the Bavaro side of the Catalonia complex.
We tried the Italian (Toscany), the Steakhouse (Rodeo), Mexican (Mirachi) and Japanese restaurants and enjoyed them all immensely. The wait staff was very attentive, courteous and polite; it is our opinion that these were some of best a la carte restaurants that we have visited in our many visits to the Dominican Republic and rate close to any 5 star restaurants we have used previously
The Gran Caribe buffet always had something to suit everyone’s palate but was consistently the same everyday. It was situated adjacent to the beautiful lobby and the fountains which afforded wonderful views while eating in the cool outdoor breeze. The service and buffet area was air conditioned and impeccably clean and well maintained.
Entertainment in the evening didn’t really impress us it also started at 9:30 pm and I am an early riser and generally to bed quite early. We stayed for one evening performance, they worked very hard to do their best and entertain the guest but personally I found it too loud.
The magnificent lobby bar (Palmareal) and court yard was the place to gather/hang in the evenings for a few evening cocktails under the stars and the table service was definitely second to none.
Sports equipment was available for all ages at this resort, shuffleboard courts, tennis courts, volleyball, wind surf equipment, hobie cats, kayaks, sail boards, table tennis, pool tables, and of course the 27 hole Catalonia golf courses and a 9 hole par 3 which driving in looked like they were in fine shape.
In the afternoons the animation team led the games at the beach and around the pool everyday, they would come a politely ask if you would like to join in, if you did not want to they moved on.
The resort while it is listed by most tour operators as a 4.5 star, in my opinion does meet those standards very solidly.
We definitely would return to this Catalonia Bavaro resort of course if the price was right.
While there we took our own walking tour of the Catalonia Royal,
I will give you a brief summation of what we saw. Construction of new buildings near the beach which caused no concern to any of the clients, a lovely spa with outdoor Jacuzzi’s, a beautiful pool with built in waterbeds, a lovely outdoor patio deck off a smaller air conditioned lobby and an a la carte restaurant (Thalassa). Everything is very well kept and maintained. We also tried the restaurant one evening and the bar a couple of times as we were allowed by management to visit these facilities.
The restaurant was beautiful inside, table service was generally very good with multiple waiters looking after us, some obviously were in the being trained mode as they did things just a bit different, for instance we ordered coffee and dessert, we had our dessert and after waiting 15 minutes left for an after dinner cocktail and had the waiter chase us down in the lounge to deliver our coffee, strange but a bit too late. Also while I had a decent meal of lobster, the pork sirloin my wife ordered had to be returned to the kitchen as it was almost still walking, so remember that when you order meats make sure you say “very well done”.
Travel and Arrival:
My boyfriend and I and his two children (Courtney and Travis -15yrs old) stayed at the Catalonia Bavaro from Oct 5-12, 2008. This was the children’s first time to the Dominican Republic and they were very excited.
We flew Skyservice from Toronto to Punta Cana on a mourning flight arriving in Punta Cana around 10:40am. Customs and Immigrations went smoothly and retrieving our luggage was quick. Once out of the terminal we found our Nolitours Rep to see what bus we were on. The transfer to the resort is only 15mins.
Once at the resort we were directed to a separate area to check in. Check was quick and our rooms were ready when we got there so we had the bellboy bring the luggage to the room.
Our rooms (913 and 914) were in building 9 on the second floor about half way to the beach or lobby. We all liked our rooms and found them quite nice. The few problems we did have were attended to quite quickly with what they call service express. The maids were just excellent keeping them clean and well stocked with coffee, water, pop, and beer.
The Catalonia is a mature well landscaped resort with lots of tropical vegetation and little ponds and rivers running throughout the resort with water fountains in most of them. It is well maintain and is quite beautiful.
The beauty of Punta Cana is Bavaro beach and you won't be disappointed at the Catalonia. The beach area is large and gorgeous with lots of beach loungers so there is no problem getting a chair.
Each day the activities team would arrive around 10:00am to do their beach games and aqua aerobics in the ocean until 12:00pm and then they went off for their siesta. They apparently work from 9:00am until late into the evening when they help in the show and then off to the disco. They were just great.
We don't spend much time at the pool since we prefer the beach but we had a chance to spend some time at it the first couple of days and it was well kept and clean. Beware that half the pool was drain on the third day we were there and was under renovations. They had a partition wall cemented in so the other half could be still used. It still left plenty of room to use the pool. Not sure when the whole pool will be done. You might want to find out from your travel agent if you are a pool person.
We enjoyed the pool bar and the lobby bar the best and felt they made the best drinks. The beach bar drinks always seemed watery even if they were a frozen drink and we did not like them. A couple times a week the resort puts on a Coco Loco and Pina Colada bar next to the beach hut. They serve the drinks in a coconut or pineapple and are blended on the spot. These were just yummy. Make sure to check everyday to see if they are there.
We ate mostly at the main buffet (Gran Caribe) and at the pool side grill snack bar. The buffet always had plenty of variety and the service there was excellent. The pizza was excellent at the pool side grill. Have to be quick though because it is always eaten up first. We did not bother with the a la carte restaurants because we found the main buffet food to great.
They do a children show from the kids club from 9:00 to 9:30pm every night and then Karaoke until 10:00 when the show starts. We watched three of the shows and they were good.
Staff and Activity Team:
The staff and workers at the resort were just great. Always smiling and always say Hola to you. We were very impressed with the activity team at this resort. Unlike other resorts I have been to this team is made up of people from around the world. When we talked to Shane who is from Canada he told us the resort is an international resort so the owners of the resort felt it would be in their best interest to hire people from other countries to help communicate and make guest more comfortable at their resort. Well for us it did, and made us feel more welcome at the resort.
We got a really good deal for this resort and it was worth every penny. The kids just loved it and will never forget their first time in the D.R. Because of the Catalonia with its friendly atmosphere and its beautiful resort.
Catalonia Bavaro Resort
Steve and Judy Toronto
My husband and I took a weeks vacation to this resort on October 3, 2008 and it will be the last.
On our third day of the vacation, we woke to find that half of the pool area was under construction and the other half was barely waist deep.
This was not told to us before we booked our trip and had we known the conditions, we certainly would have gone elsewhere. Over a 3 day period, the pool bar staff consistently had the volume of the music so loud that we could not have a conversation with people 3 feet away without yelling. And even after asking them time and time again to please turn the music down and complaining to Guest Services, we were ignored. This is appalling.
On the last day of our trip, we attempted to enjoy the pool again as the music was toned down at the time...but soon after "up it went again". Finally my huband and several other people went over to to the bar area to have the music returned to a tolerable level and were laughed at by the staff. Again Guest Services was called but nothing was done.
This is totally unacceptable. People pay good money to go on vacation to relax. Not to come home miserable.
The food we found to be OK but the same thing every day. We were disappointed in the advertising of the restaurants when we arrived as the interent said there was Parisean which we were looking forward to but when we asked about it, we were told it doesn't exist anymore.
The resort is listed as a 5 star. It doesn't even match the little resort we first stayed at 2 years ago which was a 3 1/2 star and much better run.
We will never return to this place and others we spoke with both younger and older than we, have agreed they would never return either.
If you're planning on booking a trip here, you might want to reconsider this one.
Catalonia Bavaro Resort
August 17 to August 24 2008
I got a last minute deal all inclusive $1155 to Punta Cana. Went with a cousin and my son who is 11yrs old.
The trip was wonderful. Air Transat is good.
The check in was only 15mins and they took our luggage to our room.
The room is very neat and clean. The room has everything. We love the jaccuzzi and new washroom.
The weather was perfect from 30 to 35degree. No rain and no hurricanne.
The food, there was a large variety of them to choose from. We all enjoyed the buffet, restaurants, the pizza and the bbq.
On Monday they had beach party and it was the best.
The entertainment oh my God the staff work very hard to please everyone. Kids have the kids club, then live entertainment which was amazing. The dancers are very good. We danced after the show.
The kids love the magic show and the clown. The michael jackson show was wonderful. Good job!!!
After the entertainment we had live band music. Sometimes they play merengue and salsa and other slow dance.
The nightclub was good. Nice music. Good environment. And guess what the guys are very sexy, flirting and hot. I enjoyed dancing with them ahahha
For my son, there was a babysitter in the room. $10 per hour which was not a bad idea.
The staff speaks, english, french and spanish. The visitors were from all over the world, England, France, China, Italy, Germany, Canada and more........meet many people, made new friends.
The activities on the beach were amazing, we did running, jogging, yoga, meditation and learn dancing salsa and merengue.
If you are single no worries there are plenty of guys there lol lol
The check out was quick and we were very sad to come back to our home land Toronto. Felt sorry to leave the luxury and come to our routine work and school. Anyways thats life.
Yes, I will recommend family, single and kids to this resort.
I will go there again.
Catalonia Bavaro Resort
My husband and I (24 and 23) stayed at Hotel Catalonia from June 29th-July 6th 2008 for our honeymoon, and we had an amazing time.
Arrival and Flight
Everything went well, and check-in only took about 20 minutes.
They were very nice and clean. The air conditioner was great, a little noisy sometimes, but it worked really well. There are no clocks in any of the rooms, so make sure you bring a watch.
We left 2-4 dollars everyday and had no problems with service.
We went to 2 a la carte restaurants, the italian and the steakhouse. Both were fabulous, probably our favourite meals! The main buffet was great too. Tons of selection, you can always find something you want. The omelet buffet in the mornings was phenomenal, and the pasta bar that you can get at lunch and dinner was awesome.
The little cafe by the pool was great too. Burgers, fries, chicken, salads, bacon, pizza and nachos. We ate lunch there most of the time.
Neither of us ate something we didn't like all week.
The pool bar had the best banana mamas of anywhere. We went to the lobby bar for a few drinks, they were good, ususally pretty strong. We didn't go to the disco or the casino.
Beach and Pools
The pool was amazing, we probably spent most of our time there. It was huge and clean and had a great swim-up bar.
We were a little disappointed with the beach. There were no waves, and the water wasn't all that nice. The sand and palm trees were beautiful, but we were expecting a little bit more because we heard punta cana had the best beaches.
Really nice. Fun to walk through, they always had people working on things and cleaning.
Activities and Entertainment
We played basketball or tennis everyday, and we took dance lessons on the beach. The beach entertainment staff were great. The water aerobics and dancing are perfect if you don't want to sit around. We only went to one night show. It was entertaining, but nothing special. They really can dance though!!
Departure and Check Out
It went fine.
We had an awesome time. Neither of us had been to an all-inclusive before so we thought it was amazing. The food was fantastic, and overall it was just relaxing and fun. I've already recommended it to my parents and friends. We wouldn't come back here only because we really love waves at the beach. Everything else was really awesome though.
Catalonia Bavaro Resort
Arrival and Flight
We flew on USA3000 out of Detroit on a 6:00 a.m. flight. The Apple Vacation check in at the terminal was quick and organized. The flight was direct to Punta Cana. Comfort was normal, in flight movie was nice to pass the time.
We love the open airport facility at Punta Cana. I am thinking they have made additions to this airport since we were last there. Terminal 2 is all fancy, fancy and air conditioned, with shops and food.....nice. Transportation to the resort was quick.
We checked in around 11:30 a.m. Our rooms were not quite ready, but by the time we found lunch and came back, we were able to check in. Our rooms were very nice. We asked for a building near the beach and it was very convenient Villa 4). We loved the big bed and the big round tub. Our maid service was great. She always took care of us. Sometimes she cleaned in the morning and sometimes late afternoon. No matter. It was always cleaned; we always had fresh towels; we always had water and beer in the fridge!
We were travelling with our whole family including a daughter and son-in-law who were flying in a few hours later out of San Francisco. The staff were very helpful with our request to have rooms together. We loved the way the rooms are grouped together at the ends of the building instead of a long hallway. We felt like we had our own wing!
We all had small issues at times with facilities, but we were all also in the same mindset. Vacation!!! Who cares!!! One cold shower, a plugged toilet, one roving bug, a scary hammock (watch out, they can fall down:) but none of it made a dent in our fun. I've traveled to many countries......that is just life!
We really enjoyed the food and drinks at this resort. This is our third Punta Cana resort. Good food. Remember that these people are trying to please hundreds of people a day. I think they did an amazing job. We ate at all of the specialty restaurants, buffets and snack bar. We especially enjoyed the Italian (used to be French) and the Japanese. The Mexican was also very good. We rated the Steakhouse the lowest, but it was still fine. Steaks in D.R. are a little different. I ordered fish.....it was great. In fact, eat fish as often as you see it on a menu or in a buffet. It is always grand. We had shrimp, lobster, mahi, tilapia, salmon.......then move on to fruit! The fruit is glorious! Try mango, passion fruit, pineapple, banana dishes...... Another tip: all of the breads and pastries are made fresh. They are to die for. We ate lunches most often at the beach/pool restaurant. It was so convenient and the menu was just as good as the big buffet. Okay....another must? The pizza. Unexpectedly, we ate pizza every day from the snack bar. We watched the chef roll out fresh dough and bake it in a stone-fired pizza oven. It was better than any here in the states.
Last but not least...breakfast!! Don't miss it. Okay...enough on food.
We enjoyed all of the bar environments. Our favorite, however, was the little tiny bar hut north on the beach. The bartender, Martin, was the best and friendliest man ever. What a great friend! The lobby bar is fun in the evening. You can play pool there and even check out games, such as Scrabble, to play. The pool bar was always quite the party. We only stopped there a couple of times later in the week after a long day on the beach. I think the poor staff at the swim up bar have to deal with lots of people having "lots" of fun. They still remain patient, although stoic.
Beach and Pools
The beach is beautiful! We snorkeled right near the swim area every day. The fish are awesome. The water is calm because of the reef area near there. It is a lovely greenish blue. Huge sand beach with lots of chairs. We did go down as early as possible and drank our coffee on the beach so that we could have a shady palapa. It's not that hard to find one, as some people have stated. Pool is large and nice. We didn't spend much time there.
The grounds are well maintained and beautiful. Take time to enjoy all of the different flowers, trees and bushes. Look closely for the little lizards, turtles, frogs, birds, ducks, etc. It is wonderful. I watched hummingbirds dive all around. I watched these cute little birds building a nest in the palm tree. So cute! Truly don't miss all of the little magic.
Activities and Entertainment
The shows are very nice and the staff works very hard. When do these people sleep!!!? We enjoyed the water sports, such as the kayaks and the catamarans. We played some of the beach games and we love volleyball on the beach.
We did two snorkelling trips, but we don't bother with the organized tours. Just walk down the beach and find a fella with a boat and they will take you out to a good area. (No, we really are not nuts....we love these guys!) I'm not sure why people hesitate to get to know the areas up and down the beach.
Departure and Check Out
We hated to go. Departing stinks :) They made it easy and we had no problems, except that they didn't beg us to to stay another week....free. :)
I highly recommend the Catalonia. It was a bargain and we had a great time. We have enjoyed all the resorts we have visited in D.R. The people are wonderful. Take a shot at their language. They appreciate it, I think.
Catalonia Bavaro Resort
My wife and I stayed at the Catalonia Bavaro from Jan.10-24 2008. Overall the holiday was fine, but beware... something seemed a bit off about the whole thing.
Flight & Check-in:
Our flight left Winnipeg right on schedule and arrived at Punta Cana airport around 4 PM. I'm stunned at how quickly you're able to whisk through here! We pulled into the Catalonia about twenty minutes later. We were very impressed when we got off the bus. The main lobby is huge with lots of places to lounge about. The main bar, restaurants, and shopping strip are all located close by.
The guy at the front desk was a smart-ass and very condescending (first of many). He told us someone would take our bags and give us a ride to our room in fifteen minutes. We got sick of waiting so after an hour we walked off on or own carrying our luggage with us.
I’d emailed the resort a few weeks before arriving and begged for a room near the ocean. We were happy to see our building was closest to the beach! This resort is HUGE and the grounds are very well maintained. Our room was WWAAYY down at the far end but we never minded the long walk.
Our second floor room (#116) had a view of the ocean which was really nice. The balcony had a relaxing hammock that I used daily. The bed was GREAT! Soft and comfy. The bathroom was huge with a big round Jacuzzi style tub (which we never used). The shower was tiny but the water was always hot. Air conditioning never let us down.
Maid service was atrocious... We'd leave our room early in the morning and come back late in the afternoon and it still hadn't been cleaned. There were two days it was never touched at all! We left $2-3 on the pillow every day but it never made any difference (is that too cheap??).
Pool & Beach:
The Catalonia's big, twisting pool is its high point. The water was always clean and cool and there were always plenty of loungers close by. We spent a lot of time around here.
The beach was nice, lots of sand between the resort and the water. There are no resorts on either side for miles so walking wasn't too good. You quickly ran into washed up seaweed and garbage as soon as you stepped off resort property.
We couldn't see what was so great about the Royal side. The beach area was small and nowhere near as nice as the normal side. We saw a lot of red (royal) wrist bands all throughout our part of the resort.
The ocean was shallow and very calm, no waves at all. Very warm.
Food & Drinks:
The main buffet food was...unique. It wasn't really good, but it wasn't all that bad. After a couple of days we knew what was safe and what was best left untouched. Needless to say, weight gain from overeating wasn't a big concern. This is important to note in my opinion because I'll eat ANYTHING. I have a stomach of iron but this place made me think twice. My wife got terribly sick on the last two days and she was convinced it was a bad wiener (don't laugh).
We were really impressed with our one meal at the French restaurant. Fantastic food and service! Too bad we couldn't eat there every day.
The beach restaurant was more of what the main buffet had to serve except the service was a lot worse. We ate there three or four times then gave up on it altogether. Take your own travel mug and help yourself to coffee here or you'll never get one!
The pool snack bar was the best! They made fresh pizzas, hotdogs, burgers and fries here. All fantastic! There was also a soft ice cream machine and hot nachos.
The main bar in the lobby was too small to accommodate a 700+ room resort. If you didn't get a seat by seven it the evening, you'd have a tough time finding one later on. Drinks were just okay, lots of variety but nothing special. Coco Locos were the most popular.
The pool bar was pretty busy all the time and sometimes it was just better to get a waiter’s attention with a nice tip. He’d serve you the rest of the day right at your lounger.
The Swim-up bar was nice and shady.
Here's where things seemed the most off. Most of the staff didn't smile, and completely ignored you when you walked by them. They almost seemed put out when you tried to talk to them and one waitress even rolled her eyes at me when I gave her a dollar tip for bringing me a drink.
I have a feeling the bad service was a result of poor management.
We met one waitress who worked at the small crepes and coffee place at the end of the shopping strip. She was the nicest person on the resort and we looked forward to seeing her every night after supper.
The animation team worked hard and the nightly show was first rate. The dancers are great!
Internet service was pretty good. The girls that worked there were friendly and forgiving with the time that was given to you.
The shops were well stocked but once again the service was lousy in most of them.
There’s a nice little golf course attached to the resort but we never tried it out.
The disco was fun but a little smoky at times.
We asked for the late check-out option three days before leaving but they said the resort would be too busy to do that for us. That was unfortunate because check-out was at 11AM and our bus didn’t pick us up until 7:45PM. My poor wife was too sick to do anything but writhe and run off occasionally to vomit. We were stuck staying on one of the lobby couches while I looked after her for the entire nine hours! I was a little surprised that no employee came over and asked if everything was alright.
Food - not the best but tolerable
Staff - same as the food
Grounds - beautiful, A+++ pool and snack bar
Beach - nice but limited walking
I would go to the Catalonia again only if I saw a REALLY good deal. I definitely wouldn't put it on my short list of resorts to revisit
Catalonia Bavaro Resort
Karen Toronto, Ontario
Arrival and Flight March 6-13, 2008 Air Transat . The flight was pleasant. Arrival was smooth. The check in was great considering it was March break and there were many people with us on the same flight going to the Catalonia.
Rooms The rooms were clean and spacious. The fridge was stocked daily with beer, pop and bottled water. The showers were small but fine.
Restaurants We tried all the a la carte restaurants and all were very good. Our favourites were the American and the Japanese. The buffets one by the beach and one by the main entrance were enjoyable. There was plenty of good food, fresh fruits and theme nights. You will not go hungry they have something for everyone.
Bars The bars were hopping and the service was good.
Beach and Pools The beach is just beautiful and the pool is huge with a great swim up bar and a fantastic snack bar that serves bbq chicken, wood oven pizza, fries, natchos and cheese, burgers and hot dogs.
Grounds The grounds are beautiful and kept clean.
Activities and Entertainment There was lots to do the animation team had plenty of activities going if you so wished to participate!
Tours Many tours to choose from. We went to Saona Isand and had a fantastic day. We went on a catamaran to the island. We drank, danced and sang on the way. Had a great beach bbq on the island. Enjoyed the great weather and on the way back we stopped to swim on a sand bar in the middle of the ocean and drink some more. Saona Island was a great full day trip.
Departure and Check Out The departure and check out was smooth and quick. We didn't have any problems at all.
Conclusion The Catalonia is not a 5 Star hotel. I would give it 4-41/2 Stars. For the price it is an excellent holiday that I would recommend to my friends and family.
We had a great time and would go back again. The fact that the weather was amazing really made our stay that much nicer. The staff are friendly and helpful and we never had any language barrier issues during our stay.
Catalonia Bavaro Resort
Just returned from Punta Cana and stayed at the Catalonia Bavaro Resort...definitely not a 5 star!!I would give it maybe a 3 star. Buffet food basic and less than cafeteria fare.Rooms basic , our shower had no walls and we didn't have a tub , just a square in the floor.I asked for an upgrade but was told all the rooms looked the same.Pools ok but could use some paint. Found the desk staff very disorganized and not at all helpful, I guess they figure once they have you there you are at their mercy.When I saw that they call themselves a 5 star I thought I should write a review so that some poor unsuspecting couple doesn't spend their honeymoon there thinking it is like the other 5 stars.I am glad for these websites now I always check before I travel.
Catalonia Bavaro Resort
Just returned from a week (Feb 15 - Feb 22) at this great resort. Before leaving, I read the reviews and was a bit apprehensive as to what to expect because of the negative reviews. My suggestion to you - ignore the negative reviews. This resort is great. Remember, you are on "Dominican" time and 15 minutes can mean an hour. Relax and enjoy your holiday - don't sweat the small stuff.
The flight was at 6:20 am on Air Transat out of Pearson Int. and it was a smooth, uneventful flight. Nothing special but that's okay. Once in Punta Cana we went through very quickly and without too much hassle. Men will come up and ask to carry your luggage but just say "No Gracias" and they are fine and will usually leave you alone. You are only a few feet from the bus anyways. Check-in at the hotel was painless and you receive 2 keys, 2 towel cards and a safe lock & key. This is free, except, if you lose the key to the lock it is $30 or the towel cards and room keys also have cost to replace lost keys. The towel game was apparently on at the hotel, we didn't experience it to much. Once someone picked up one of our towels at the beach, but we were able to call them on it and got it back right away.
We stayed in Villa 2 which is right on the beach and close to the beach buffet restaurant and pool. The room was very spacious and had 2 twin beds, which were very comfortable. There is a hammock on the balcony for relaxing after a long day. Each room had a huge round bathtub (which fit 2) with a separate shower. Water pressure was good and usually had lots of hot water. Sometimes around dinner time it may not be super hot because everyone was using it at the same time.
The beach has lots of palm trees and a nice breeze. You can walk for miles. The sea grass on the beach is cleaned up every morning. If you want to reserve a palapa with your towel, you need to be at the beach by 7:00 -7:30 am. People reserve, even though there is a sign on the beach saying this is prohibited.
If you walk on the beach to the right of the resort, you will come to some vendor shacks. Make sure you barter - you can usually get what you want for a quarter of what their starting price is. We got the best prices from Alex,who has the last shack not attached to the rest of the "mall".
The pool is huge and has lots of lounge chairs, but if you want one under a palapa, you need to be at the pool between 7:00 and 7:30 am with your towel. Martin at the swim up bar makes a great Miami Vice!
The animation team always has some activity happening at the beach or pool. The shows in the evening start at 10:00 pm and are very repetitious, but they do try very hard.
The food was very good. The main buffet and a la carte restaurants are about a 10 minute walk from the beach & pool, so we usually ate breakfast at the beach buffet and at lunch time, we ate at the pizza & hamburger stand, which also had rotisserie chicken and fries. We ate at all the a la cartes except the Mexican. They were all good, with the Steakhouse being the best. I had lobster at the French restaurant and it was good, but not like in Cuba. Make sure you try the creperie that is in the Shopping Plaza by the lobby. They serve great banana splits and caramel crepes.
The Royal side is not worth the extra money from what we could see. They have a very small private beach, which didn't have very many people. They also have a private pool and a la carte restaurants. Looked very stuffy and boring!!
We went parasailing. That a rush! It is only $85 US for 2 and is well worth the money. You book at the watersport hut and they take you down the beach a ways in a speed boat where you meet another boat that will take you parasailing. It is beautiful.
All in all, it was a great vacation and I would go back to this resort. Go for it, and have a great time!!!
Catalonia Bavaro Resort
My family and I just returned from Catalonia Bavaro in Punta Cana, we have travelled 4 times to this same resort because we loved it there so much. This visit things have changed, I understand the ownership has changed hands and in my opinion it shows. This trip we almost had to begg for water daily, we were given 2 small bottles daily in our room. Our 3 children in the other room were given 3 bottles. It was not from a lack of a tip because we tipped both rooms daily. In most cases we had to call front desk more than once to get more water. My children had 3 twin beds in their room 2 had comforters on and 1 didnt, the day we left my daughter still didnt have a comforter, we also asked daily for that. The plumbing system in their room was so horrible we had to have it fixed twice in 3 days, and also I noticed a tremendous amount of cock roaches. We were also not given enough towells daily for each of us and we had to call front desk one night because my kids didnt have any towells to shower at all, the housekeeping took them out but didnt supply new ones. While we were on the bus to the resort the guy who try to make you laugh said this is a 5 star hotel, I laughed I thought 4 at best, after this visit I am not sure I would rate it that. I have been to the Royal Side also, you are treated little better there perhpas a 4 star. Needless to say we will not be going back, it was decided this trip, which is sad because we enjoyed to vacation there.
Catalonia Bavaro Resort
Arrival - We arrived on Feb 9th. We were lucky enough to have our rooms ready. We received a drink and our room package. We then took a quick golf cart ride to our room.
The room was great. An interesting design but one of the best I have ever stayed in. We had a junior suite, with a king bed. The mattress was great not to hard or soft. We had a sitting area and a hammock on our patio. The shower could have been a little bigger.
The main buffet was good. This is the one area where I think the resort can improve on. However i never went away hungry and could always find something eat. At the main buffet, look for Willian. He is great, took very good care of us. We never had to ask for anything he was always there!!
Mexican not to great but okay
American or Steakhouse was great we enjoyed the steaks and took the leftover fat and bones to some of the dogs who hang out up the beach from the resort.
Persian Great my wife and I had Filet Mingon(spl)? and Lobster! Both really good.
Great never had any issues with getting drinks. The main bar at night had a problem with keeping up with specific drinks. People are always ordering Bannana Mama's so the mix was always running low and there was never enough time for the mix to chill properly. Not the resorts fault. People just like those drinks.
Beach and Pools -
The beach was great we never had any issues getting chairs. There are numerous trees and huts for shade. There is only one beach bar. Sand was great and so was the water. Great snorkling.
Lots of vegetation and well taken care of. Lots of fish, turltes, ducks around the resort.
Many to choose from and no pressure to participate. Fernando on the animation team is great, very friendly and a lot of fun
This is the first resort that my wife and I would go back to. We like to go to different resorts everytime we travel. But we would definately go back.
Catalonia Bavaro Resort
Stephen and Margaret Ancaster, ON
Our first trip to the Dominican Republic and Punta Cana.
Flight was okay. Wish we had known there were seat upgrades available at the airport before departure. I would definitely inquire next time. (if the extra cost fits our budget)
Arrival and bus to the resort went smoothly. Check-in went smoothly, except for a key to an already occupied room. Fellow that came To the door was in good humour, though another chap who came back to the front desk had a less than cordial encounter.
The rest of our experience was great. The room we eventually got, around 11:30 pm was excellent. The bellboy was very helpful And eager to make up for the earlier miscue. Management also called the next morning to apologize.
I would also check for an earlier arrival flight next time, in case of any late night miscues.
The front lobby was large, very nicely designed for open air breezes, nicely connected to a lounge and bar, with adjacent access to the grand carribe buffet restaurant, casino, shops, internet café, and entertainment stage and disco.
I am a non smoker but the open air design prevented any smoke build up and was no bother at all.
Excellent snack bar near the large, clean swimming pool.
The grounds were very nice and very well kept. The food was to excellent. Though some have expressed a preference for the Cuban Menus, we found the food here much better than the 4 ½ star resort we stayed at in Veradaro. And the grounds much better and cleaner.
The beach was beautiful and well kept. Though the water was a little nicer at Veradaro.
The staff was friendly, and helpful. Did not feel pressured to tip, but the tips were always well received.
Room was clean, lots of space, inside and a balcony with a hammock and rocker outside.
Golf course was expensive for ($65. for 9 holes) and not that nice. Suggest somewhere else if you like to golf.
Recommend dining at the Grand Carribe buffet or the beach buffet. The a la carte restaurants were okay, but we enjoyed the choice at the buffets.
For the price we felt it was well worth it and would definitely go there again.
Catalonia Bavaro Resort
We have just returned from a weeklong stay at the Catalonia Bavaro Resort. We travelled with two teenagers from the west coast of Canada (8 hour flight). Before booking this resort, we read many review from this site - they were mixed so we felt like we were taking a chance. We have lots of experiences at all-inclusive resorts (7 resorts) in Mexico (all 4.5 star and 5 star) so we have plenty to compare this one to. This was our first trip to the DR and we were nervous.
FLIGHT: long but this has nothing to do with the resort.
DR AIRPORT: arrived on time. Given very little direction once off the plane as to where to proceed. Basically forced to have your photograph taken before you can enter the airport building. Very windy. Waited in a hot and humid area for luggage to tumble on to an inefficient conveyor belt (keep a close eye because luggage fell off easily). Once you gather your belongings, you start to head for next section and all of a sudden you are accosted by locals who want to carry your luggage (they expect tips and will not take "no" for an answer). Tip: hold on to your luggage, don't let go, say "no gracious", have your hotel reservation documents ready, proceed to your tour provider's kiosk and get the bus number that will take you to your resort - proceed quickly through the locals that want to take your luggage 50 feet or so to your bus. Once you get to your bus, watch and make sure that your luggage is placed in the lower part of the bus. Show your hotel reservation documents to the rep and off you go onto the bus.
BUS RIDE: air-conditioned bus. Not a bumpy ride as others have said. It is a 15 to 20 minute ride to the resort.
ARRIVAL: leave your luggage to be removed by the hotel staff and proceed directly to the lobby desk. Again, have your hotel reservation documents and ID ready. There is then a strange three step procedure: (a) reception representative checks documents and ID (make sure all members of your party are present there at the desk when you do this; (b) move to your right and obtain the "all-inclusive" bracelet and then go get your luggage; and (c) stay in the lobby area with your luggage [one or two could go get drinks for all from the lobby bar] and eventually they will start to call out names and pass out plastic envelopes/pouches with your room number, one room key, 4 ala carte reservations, 2 towel cards and a map. You can leave your luggage with a porter to bring to your room or, as we did, just carry your stuff to your room. Rooms are numbered with the first number being your Villa. Example: 102 is room #2 in Villa 1. Tip: just ask one of the porters to point you in the direction of your room - there are signs and rooms are easy to find. We were right at the beach which is the farthest from the lobby - great rooms! Once you check out your room and you like it, or find it acceptable, go back to the lobby and they will make another key (or 2 or 3). That is the procedure.
POOL: large with a swim up pool bar. Unfortunately, lots of intoxicated guests who are loud. Games are played in the pool, such as water polo and volleyball. Same music played over and over - you get used to it. The pool is clean and the water is a nice temperature. There is nice vegetation throughout. Only issue: if you have kids they will be exposed to topless European women sunbathing (aged 55+). One gets used to this after awhile BUT seems out of place in a family oriented resort. The hotel does not care one way or the other. I am not a prude but there is a time and place......
ACTIVITY STAFF: excellent. They are very friendly and motivated to make sure that everyone who wants to participate has a chance. There are countless activities - check the activity board: pool and beach volleyball, darts, bocce, archery, beach basketball free-throws, beach soccer, tennis, etc. The sad part was that the tennis courts are run down (there are only 2) and need resurfacing and filling of the pot-holes. We all like tennis and play year round at home. This was disappointing. We only played once.
BEACH: the true gem of this resort. The water is quite clear. There are large patches of sea grass (brown) which house sea-life. The water is blue-green and beautifully warm. It was warmer than the pool. The sand is truly powdery white sand. The weather was quite hot (27 to 30 C) but your feet did not burn on the sand. There was always a nice cool breeze so the heat is not offensive - it was perfect. Lots of pallapas - but it is a good idea to get out there by 8 am to "reserve" your hut for the day. Lots of clean beach chairs/loungers. Again, for families with kids - there are topless European women sunbathing and walking the beach. We were at the beach all day, every day.
WEATHER: it can get windy. Our first 2 days were quite windy on the beach. Some stacked loungers up to break the wind. On those days, catamarans are not allowed out. On those days, it is best to be pool side (much less wind) BUT it did not bother us that much on the beach. Clouds come in and depart fairly rapidly. It rained once for 5 minutes and then stopped. On the 4th night, it rained hard all night (we were in bed) but the sun was out early in the morning and that was the end of that.
ROOMS: basic, clean, no bugs (except for a few on the bathroom counter which the maid took care of without us asking). Nice ceiling fan. You get either a king size bed and a side twin guest bed OR two twins and a side twin guest bed. The beds were comfortable, not hard, and the bedding was clean. The pillows were variable in size and firmness. Blinds have "blackout" layers which is nice. Rooms are on the dark side. There is a small sitting area and mini-fridge stocked daily with soft-drinks water and beer. We never ran out of bottled water. Terrace/balcony has a hammock and rocking chair - very relaxing. There is a large closet to hang your clothes and a large dresser. The bathroom only has one sink. It has a large soaker tub BUT a small shower. The shower could be bigger but did the job. We were not in the room much except to bathe, sleep and change clothes. We liked the location of our room because we hung out at the beach every day. We were on the ground floor and were very happy with the locations. It did mean a longer walk to the lobby and restaurants - no problem for us - we liked the walk.
EXCURSIONS: we planned on the Senoa Island tour BUT it is an all day affair. We decided to pass as we liked the resort so much. I think that if we were staying for two weeks, we would have ventured out more.
BUFFET RESTAURANTS: there are two main buffets. The larger one is next to the lobby called the Grand Caribe. There is a smaller one next to the beach - it has virtually everything that the larger one has for breakfast and lunch. We preferred the beach buffet. Also there is an excellent snack bar next to the pool with burgers, hot dogs, pizza (very good) from a wood oven, fries and roast chicken.
ALA CARTES: from best to least favourites - French (excellent lobster and filet mignon), steakhouse (excellent T-bone and rib-eye steak - stay away from the ribs), Japanese (just OK) and Mexican. We all agreed that we felt rushed at all of these restaurants. None of the restaurants were full but there was this urgency to get you in, fed and get you out.
BEACH BBQ: every Monday night. Food was same as buffet - stay away from the ribs - but cold. The entertainment was poor. The kid’s entertainment went on forever. Wish we had skipped it and gone ala carte.
BARS: beach bar was excellent but no premium liquor. Lobby bar is big, but the bartenders need an attitude adjustment. Tip: don't go to the bar, just sit at a table and a waitress will take care of you and it will be faster. There is also a martini bar - occasional - we did not try it. We were disappointed that the hotel did not offer top shelf brand names. All of the liquor was local, from vodka to scotch to rum. The rum is quite good but gets old fast. I asked for different Brands, but was told that they did not have it. I took a look at the shelf myself but could not identify any premium liquors.
DISCO: it was fine. Lively. Activity staff does their best to make it fun. The disco also has 2 full-time dancers that are pleasant. Our 16 year old took a liking to Carolina - she danced with many guests and tried to get everyone involved. Try it - as far as all-inclusives go, this was the best disco I had seen.
CATAMARANS: a must do. You can get lessons for $25 - not much instruction though, but they require this before you can go solo (unless you can prove to them that you have the experience). Well worth taking these out. You have to book the day before and get there early (10 am).
SHOPPING: as you face the ocean, turn right and walk past the Royal section (which looks dead and boring) and walk past the protruding palm tree - takes only 5 minutes and you end up at a string of 15 shops. Good bargains. BUT beware, the vendors are not all the same. Go to store #1 (they are numbered) and deal with the guy running that. He speaks 4 languages and is very pleasant - no pressure sales and good selection. He will take US$, C$, Euros, or Canadian Tire $ (that was his pitch - so the next day I brought him some and he had a good laugh). His sales pitch is "Deal or no deal, but we stay friends". He trusted us such that he wanted me to take this very large painting (I did not have enough $ the first day with me) and to pay him later. I went back the next day, bought the painting and thanked him for trusting a stranger - he said that in 4 years no one had ever stiffed him - I doubt that would happen here.
GOLF: very expensive - $65 for 9 holes and $80 for 18. Course did not look that great.
CHECK OUT: if you have a late flight (ours was at 11:45 pm), with a noon check out, spring for a late check out ($45) for 6 pm. It is worth it. When you are ready to leave, call the lobby and they will send a bell-hop with a golf cart for you and your luggage.
TIPS: we tipped regularly. We were never pressured (except by the locals at the airport) by the hotel staff. They were genuinely surprised by the tips and almost reluctant to take the money. We tipped the maids daily ($2 to $5), bartenders daily, towel lady (very nice) at the end of our stay, waiters each time (ala carte) and the buffet waiters that brought us drinks. We even tipped the dancers at the disco because they put on great dance shows, were polite and shared their life stories with us about growing up in the DR. Unlike Mexico, the staff did not seem to expect tips and tips did NOT bring better service. They work very hard and we wanted to show our appreciation. Simply put - they are very nice people, genuinely concerned that you have a good time and honest to the core.
SPANISH: now, it would help to learn a few phrases just to let the staff know that you are trying to get to know them. They truly do appreciate it. The resort also offers lessons.
CONCLUSION: sorry for the long review. I felt obliged to do so as we relied heavily on the earlier reviews when we booked. If you are considering this resort, don't put much weight on the negative reviews. No place is perfect. I would recommend this place to friends and family and, yes, I would go back. This is a beautiful area with a beach that is amazing and some of the friendliest people that you will ever encounter. Overall, I prefer the DR to Mexico now that I have seen for myself. This area lacked the "tourist" feel that you get in Mexico and, again, the beach is spectacular - photos do not do justice.
Enjoy your stay if you go. If you are on the fence, give it a try - you won't be disappointed. We just loved it and loved the area – Punta Cana is a must see.
Catalonia Bavaro Resort
We stayed at the Catalonia from December 14-21. Arrived with Air Transat and everything went smoothly, minus a delay getting our bags. We had a fantastic week of sunshine, relaxation, good food, music and made many new friends, both fellow guests and the staff.
Very spacious room, it was showing it's age a bit but the mini bar and hammock were nice touches. King bed was awesome, slept very well.
Favorite food was the wood fired pizza next to the pool! Amazing! All of the al-a-cartes were very good. I went against advice and tried the steak at the french restaurant and it was delicious and tender. Rotisserie chicken at the pool restaurant was also very good. Breakfast omlettes were excellent.
The lobby bar does carry some premium liquor, but we only saw it being served a couple days of the week, I think because it would sell out first. Favorite spot was the beach bar (hut) on the far right side of the beach (opposite end from the water sports). Beer was available in the room also.
We spent all our time at the beach, between sun and shade. The palapas were all reserved by about 9am, so if you want some shade, get there early. Right out front of the resort there are plentiful fish, some very shallow and others deeper, but within the swimming area. Feed them some bread from the buffet, they will swim around you. You don't have to go deeper than to your knees.
Beautiful landscaping, constantly being groomed/trimmed. Large ponds with fish, turtles, birds. Many tree varieties are identified. I noticed a mango tree and orange tree with fruit!
There is much to participate in, if you wish (volleyball, soccer, aerobics, stretching, dancing, spanish lessons, painting lessons). If you don't wish, no one will hassle you to. I would have liked to take advantage of the catamaran lesson for $25. Once you have been trained, you can take the catamaran, once reserved, for an hour a day for free. We didn't attend the evening shows, and I know many people have complained about the shows, but all I can say is, 'don't go to them'. Instead we would go down to the beach and look at the stars while enjoying an after dinner drink. Or lounge in your own private hammock.
We participated in the 4-wheeler half-day excursion. It was fun to see a bit of the Domincan countryside. See Benny near the towel pickup window. $60 for a double (two people per machine).
I would recommend this resort to couples and families. The beach is the best I've seen (above Holguin and Mayan Riveriera, in my opinion). Staff just want to please you, they attempt to communicate in MANY languages, the restaurants accomodate all taste preferences and eating styles. We made an effort with some basic spanish and they really appreciated and encouraged it. We gave small tips to staff that offered easy smiles, quick service and even cracked a joke or two. They really out do themselves at the al-a-cartes! Think of what you would tip for a multi-course dinner in a beautiful restaurant at home. They really appreciated the tip, but wouldn't withold service if you didn't tip. It was the best caribbean vacation we've had, defintely the sunniest and hottest (for this time of year over the last 4 years)!!! Enjoy! They love Canadians!!
Catalonia Bavaro Resort
My wife and I just got back from the Dominican Republic, where we spent a glorious week staying at the Catalonia Bavaro Resort. After reading some of the negative reviews by others prior to going, it was very apparent that the people writing the negative reviews could be satisfied anywhere they would stay. Sure, some of the quirks of the service will frustrate you but you have to remember when in Rome do as the Romans. Remember you are on “Dominican” time. The hotel is a complete package that will meet the needs of most. However, I would not recommend for singles but any couple or family will love this self contained resort. The food is plentiful and selection adequate. However one thing to remember is when going to one of the ala carte restaurants is they do not always have a fully stocked bar in all of them so be prepared for a limited selection (if that is what matters to you). The room we stayed in was clean and well maintained even for North American standards. The beach is beautiful and sandy. They clean the sea weed that washes up constantly and is only a minor nuisance. The grounds are lush and manicured with birds all over. We found most of the staff friendly (some of the cooks at the buffet could smile once and awhile) and willing to please. If you are going down do yourself a favor and learn some Spanish it will go along way in getting better service. We would both definitely recommend the Catalonia Bavaro Resort.
Catalonia Bavaro Resort
Our trip was very last minute. We booked on the Wednesday night and flew out of toronto on the Friday morning.(Sept 7th) Flight was your normal sardine can with iffy food, but what the heck…gets you there. We flew Nolitours and landed first in Puerto Plata where we went thru a totally useless customs check, and promptly reboarded the plane. I think that service here could be greatly improved if they just had a holding area for in transit customers. Not sure why we had to get off the plane as they did not clean or re-fuel.
Arrived in Punta Cana after a further 40 minute flight, to beautiful sun and warmth and the pretty PC airport with its thatched roofs and stone interior. Baggage came off quickly and we exited the airport to find our “personal chauffeur” Sign and everything!! Our good friend Mike from Sunscape was there to meet us.
This review is the first that I have written that is about a vacation experience instead of just the resort experience so please bear with me . Mike loaded his trusty little mazda with our bags and I took my spot in the backseat and let the husband ride up front. Of course as we were three hours early for check in at the Catalonia Bavaro..Mike suggested maybe a drink…or two..and drove us past our resort to a little bar, that I immediately knew must be the much talked about “Corner Bar” We had some beers and talked to a few of the staff there with Mike and of course the shoeshine boys came…the little one did a great job of Greg’s sneakers! He was rewarded with a few pesos and a brand new basketball jersey…We were rewarded with a huge smile. Mike bought the boys a sprite at the bar and they were happy campers. So to the resort we go
Now we have been in the country for 3 hours and just getting to Catalonia. Mike took us to check in which was quick and painless and a bellboy drove us to our room
Upon entering the room we noticed how clean and well laid out it was. It had a small room in marble that housed the toilet and a small shower. Very clean and well maintained. Across the hall was a larger room with no door. It had a large vanity with sink…large mirrored door closet with safe (no deposit) and a huge 2 person round tub. Lovely.
The main part of the room had terra cotta tile floor with large (comfy) king size bed with very clean sheets and comforter, a chair, and sofa, end tables and a dresser with mirror. Coffee maker was on the dresser with coffee and all the fixins and mugs. Decent tv with lots of english channels and a movie channel. On the porch was a nice rocking chair and a little drink table as well as a wonderful hammock.
My husband Greg and Mike immediately decided I needed to go to the bar and bring them some beers. Hmm. Sounds just like home. I went and got them and to my surprise they had the right stuff for my fav martini’s. Frangelico and Baileys. At home I would mix an ounce of each over ice. They filled a cocktail glass! Oops. Oh well I loved it.
Mike stayed at the Catalonia and had dinner with us. No one seemed to mind and to be honest I think a lot of them where hoping that Mike was looking for help at Sunscape the Beach lol, but alas by 7 or 8 we were done. So tired.
On the Saturday we explored the resort..found the pool and beach and booked our alacartes. Found all the staff to be friendly with exception of the managers that drove around on golf carts. They looked miserable and wouldn’t even give you an hola.
Pool was large and had deep areas to it. Big fountain in the middle in a secluded area plus a large jacuzzi in an alcove. Could use a coat of paint but no problem. People were always cleaning it. Plenty of lounges and palapas around the pool. Oh and of course a pool bar. Service was ok there but not great..However they hung fresh bananas to eat and they put fruit kabobs out on covered trays which was a nice touch. The only problem that we could see at the pool was that the whole pool deck is painted in a dark red brick colour. While it looks nice it is HOT and you need to take your flip flops to the edge of pool or run like heck.
Pool had a great snack bar with fresh rotissere chicken from 10 am to 6 pm. They also served hotdogs, hamburgs, natchos with cheese sauce, french fries and many different types of pizza. Lots of shade to find to sit and eat your lunch. They also had a self serve icecream machine.
Beach was fabulous. I thought I would never beat the beaches on the south coast in La Romana but I was wrong. Crystal clear water and very calm..lots of snorkling right at the shore. Soft cool white sand. This is one of the only times I have spent much time on the beach. Normally I stick to the pool but this beach was too nice to miss. There was a buffet at the beach which was open at 8 for breakfast and then had lunch..closed at 5pm.
Caribe buffet is the main restaurant and was pretty good. The service for coffee in the morning could be a little slow but as the week went on we made friends with William and he was fantastic..Variety at all meals here was decent but not as much variety as we have had at other resorts, however you could always find something nice to eat.
French! My favourite alacarte. Lobster was large and grilled to perfection. We had the good luck of having William here and that added to the experience. Chilled wine at the table was a nice touch. Greg was a piggy and had the steak entrée and the lobster! They were great about it.
Mexican Gregs favourite alacarte. I had chicken tacos for app but they were more like a chicken roll up deep fried…but they were very good. Greg had a pork chimichanga for his starter and said it was excellent. For main we had the fajitas. I had chicken greg had steak and they also were very good. We were very happy to get bottles of corona with our meal. Very very nice
Japanese was very good with the chef putting on quite the show while he cooked for you. Starters were sushi and miso soup. You got both. I ate neither. But Greg said it was nice. You have the choice of 4 entrees and all looked good. I had the fried rice with chicken on the side and it was good. While it was very good this was my least favourite restaurant, a lot to do with how hot it was and uncomfortable.
American Steakhouse was also good. Potato skins for apps were good and I had beef tenderloin with mash, asked for med rare and it was perfect. Didn’t have dessert because I was too full but greg had the cheesecake and said it was very good. You can get Bud on tap in this restaurant.
All in all I was very pleased with dining experiences in this resort. Last year we travelled to the Rius in PP and found their ala cartes to be a major disappointment. This was a lot better than the alacarte food at the rius.
Grounds are beautiful with covered walkways thruout and ponds down the middle of the resort with lots of ducks and geese. And a rooster. A very loud rooster. Take earplugs if you like to sleep in. ..lol
Now we spent a couple of days off resort. One was a little bar hoping day with Mike and also Simon from Tropical Storm. What a nice guy he is. Ladies if you are single …well you might want to book this excursion lol. My husband drove Simons 4 wheeler down the streets. Quite frightening for me to watch from the comfort of Mikes Mazda,,but greg had a blast. Next time we go apparently he has to pick up the speed lol. We met several lovely locals. Spent the early evening at a little outdoor café having fantastic chicken kabobs and a few drinks and playing dominoes with locals. One thing about dominicans and dominoes. If they are losing, they just change the rules of the game!! We had a blast.
On the Monday we went out with Mike for the whole day. We went up past Higuey and into the mountains around Miches. What a wonderful day. We went to places with pot holes that could swallow a car, and roads washed down the mountains. We stopped at a little place on the road for beer (surprise) and it was there that we met three little girls. They were obviously not used to tourists being around because the didn’t know what to do as we offered them toys and shoes…but they were very happy. Somehow several other children appeared!! Then we found a school. This teacher had no clue that we were trying to give him supplies. There was nothing in the school but some little desks and three books and a blackboard. No decals on walls or counting charts…Nothing. He was VERY surprised when we carried the supplies up the hill. Next time we go I am taking Counting Charts and alphabet Charts and maybe an abacus…a nice colourful one to bring colour to that drab little one room school. The children were beautiful and very shy. We then went to a hotel in the mountains for a little liquid refreshment where we could view all of miches…I do not KNOW HOW mike found that place as you go up dirt roads and among houses down alleys…you get the picture!! Then we went to Coco Loco down on the beach in Miches for a wonderful lunch. The restaurant was up on stilts overlooking a quiet beach. The people that own the restaurant are from switzerland and have nice little cottages that are on the property that you can rent for overnight. They are under 30 us and includes breakfast!
Sadly on Friday we packed up…and checked out. Another easy experience. We had breakfast and then got one last drink in at 10am!! The bus picked us up and we were on our way home. Darn.
We are looking forward to returning to Punta Cana in November so time to start saving again!!!
If anyone would like any more info feel free to PM me.