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Catalonia Royal Bavaro, Secrets Royal Beach, or...?

Vancouver, Canada
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1,219 posts
31 reviews
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Catalonia Royal Bavaro, Secrets Royal Beach, or...?

We’ve never been to the DR and are seriously considering for a trip in early Dec. We thought we were willing to settle for the lowest priced option – VIK – in order to save and take a 2 week vacation and have a direct flight (coming from Vancouver = more expensive and less direct flights) But now WestJet is having a special….

Background - We’ve done 3/3.5 stars before and had a great time… but then we did get spoiled going adult only with trips to 3 Couples resorts in Jamaica. We’ve also been to AO Club Med in TCI. It was a really old, tired, small (1 buffet, 1 a la carte that was impossible to book)) resort, but we still had a good time thanks to the amazing beach. However when the wind picked up it’s one small, unprotected pool wasn’t a good option and we had to seek shelter behind the foliage. We’ve also been to a Hilton in Costa Rica that just had an adult area with separate beach (not great for swimming/lounging), pool and 1 restaurant for lunch. That was a key discovery. We found we didn’t really mind kids around most of the time, but we really enjoyed the option of a quiet area by an adult only pool.

Priorities – Nice beach with calm, swimmable water, but if it gets rough, a pool sheltered enough from any wind. Plus if we end up in the pool, we don’t want it filled with kids. (so back to the AO idea). Various option for dining is nice. The room just needs to be clean, nothing fancy required.

I’ve read enough to know that the calmest beaches are to the south, so we quite like the look of the Catalonia Royal Bavaro. However, with this WestJet sale they’re offering sales at select Now, Dreams & Secret’s resorts with nights 3, 5, 7 and 9 free, plus a $200 resort credit. So we were thinking of 9 nights at Secrets Royal Beach. It comes in at only $360 more than 9 nights at the same time at the Catalonia. Is it that much better - at least for us and what we’re looking for? …BUT… for yet another $340 less we can do 12 nights, direct flight with SunWing and stay at the VIK… but would we be happy with that choice? …Decisions, decisions…. please help!

Toronto, Canada
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1. Re: Catalonia Royal Bavaro, Secrets Royal Beach, or...?

Catalonia Royal would suit very well. The only time that ocean water is unsuitable for swimming is during a tropical storm or hurricane, it's so calm. The resort has 2 pools. One is beach side but the other is set back close to the lobby. You'd have 3 dining choices adult only plus 4 more and a buffet on the family side. Unlimited and no reservations.

Resort credits are a laugh and a come on. Usually you have to spend double or more to get your credit. Most folks end up not using it so leave that out of your costs decision.

I've never been to the VIK but from what I know there is absolutely NO comparison to either Cat Royal or SRB. Stick with either of those 2 and have yourself a decent vacation. Forget VIK and enjoy whatever you chose.

Vancouver, Canada
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31 reviews
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2. Re: Catalonia Royal Bavaro, Secrets Royal Beach, or...?

Thanks Marg. Sounds like good advice. A low end resort has never ruined our vacation, but a better one has sure improved it! I believe I have read your posts before. You've been to the CRB many times, correct? People repeating to the same resort many times says a lot to me. The location is a big draw, as well as the small size.

As for resort credits, we have twice had $500 credits at Couples that we spent at the spa (couples massages) and gift shop. It turned by husband into a spa guy! Who knew? lol… but you’re right, $200 likely isn’t enough without topping up. The spa isn’t a big priority for me.

Have you been to Secrets? I was reading on their site that all the rooms have jaccuzzi's on their balconies? really?

Toronto, Canada
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29 reviews
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3. Re: Catalonia Royal Bavaro, Secrets Royal Beach, or...?

Secrets rooms are fancier. No I haven't been there. Rooms are low priority under beach/ocean and food. I travel with my daughter and we spend so little time in our room. Fancy room is a total waste for us but I know it's important to other folks. Other than the private pool suites, Cat Royal rooms don't have jacuzzi tubs. The rooms are a good size and my daughter loves the hammock on the balcony. If we did have a jacuzzi on the balcony we'd likely not use it much. Cat Royal has a couple of jacuzzi pools to use up near the lobby pool.

What we enjoy about this hotel, after the sea/beach and the food is the wonderful service. We get so spoiled. I know what you mean. We've stayed at 2 star Cuban hotels and had a great time but now I've had a taste of the upscale life it would be hard to go back. lol

One thing I should warn. Cat is isolated from the main hotel strip. If you love deserted beaches over busy strips with hotels and lots of people you'd be fine. Some folks don't like that Catalonia beach is too quiet.

Vancouver, Canada
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1,219 posts
31 reviews
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4. Re: Catalonia Royal Bavaro, Secrets Royal Beach, or...?

Fancy rooms aren't a priority for us. Couples rooms are more on the basic side, but we love the service and the food and lots of inclusions like diving. As for the jacuzzi thing... it's funny, but weather changes my perspective and priorities... i.e. I never would have thought of that until we had a cool spell one trip in Jamaica in Jan. Then it would've been great to have a private one.

The quiet, private location of CRB is nice, but I do like to walk the beach past other resorts. I would miss that, but hubby could care less. He's not so keen on beach walking as I am. I loved that about 7 mile beach in Negril and 7 mile bech in Grand Cayman and Grace bay in Turks. I've felt a little isolated at resorts with small private beaches. hmmm... but not a deal breaker I think...

Toronto,ON
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5. Re: Catalonia Royal Bavaro, Secrets Royal Beach, or...?

The SRB is one of our favorites. I have not been to the Catalonia so I can not compare.

The SRB is only a couple of years old and the rooms are modern and all have a jacuzzi on the balcony/terrace. We were in a swim up room along the lazy river and loved it. The resort is in a horseshoe type shape and the pool and lazy river are in the middle. They are shielded by the buildings so wind was never a real issue.

The resort credit is the same as offered at their NOW and Dreams and can be used towards bottle of wine purchase, spa, onsite stores etc. We like to purchase a nice bottle of wine at dinner sometimes so that was used as well as the spa for a massage. My husband used the store one as well. It is not something that will make or break your vacation but is a nice little perk if you use them.

We truly enjoyed the live music in the courtyard during the evening. We don't typically do the resort theater shows so it was so great having something else to do. The resort has an upgraded liquor selection so it was great to sit back with an after dinner drink and enjoy the music.

You have full access to the NOW resort next door which has a disco/lounge and a small casino.

We really enjoyed the SRB and loved that it is adults only. Service was amazing.

Vancouver, Canada
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1,219 posts
31 reviews
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6. Re: Catalonia Royal Bavaro, Secrets Royal Beach, or...?

The two of you are not making this easy! ;)

Vancouver, Canada
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1,219 posts
31 reviews
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7. Re: Catalonia Royal Bavaro, Secrets Royal Beach, or...?

So how long do you stay? Is 7 nights enough? Would much more be too long, in your opinion?

Toronto,ON
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8. Re: Catalonia Royal Bavaro, Secrets Royal Beach, or...?

Everybody is different and it really depends on your personality. We always do 7 days and I don't think I could do more then 10 days at this point in our lives. We both have demanding careers and usually tied to blackberry and laptop. I leave mine at home and check webmail just to calm me but my husband heads up an IT dept for a large company and has never had a vacation without calls and email almost daily. We try to do a couple of 7 day trips or extended long weekend getaways a year. I don't think 14 days is doable for us right now. Maybe in time and we truly are considering buying a Caribbean or Mexico vacation home in another 10 years or so.

For us Punta Cana, Mexico and most Caribbean locations are only about 4 hours of flight time so it is easy to do. If we had too much longer of a flight we may look at things differently. I just get too restless at about the 7 day mark. I hate leaving the sun and fun but I just can't stay away too long. Damn type A personality. Lol.

Toronto, Canada
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29 reviews
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9. Re: Catalonia Royal Bavaro, Secrets Royal Beach, or...?

I could spend the entire winter there but I can't afford that and my daughter can only get a week off at a time. Everyone is different. As long as I have a bit of wifi I could stay anywhere near the sea.

Vancouver, Canada
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1,219 posts
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10. Re: Catalonia Royal Bavaro, Secrets Royal Beach, or...?

Marg, I'm with you. I never get bored on vacation, but then we tned to split up longer ones, and/or do lots of diving, or excursions (like in CR). I'm more worried that he will get bored if it;s strictly a beach vacation... but he has a Kobo with lots fo books. When we go on vacation we totally disconnect from the "real world" back home. :)