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Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Blue
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Reviewed 15 June 2009

My partner and I just got back from the Bahia Principe Ambar, June 7-14. AND WOW. we had the most amazing time ever. We had never been treated so perfectly like this before at a resort. The resort was beautifull and huge!. Everyone there just wanted to help. I would absolutely recommend this resort. The entertainment is amazing.

  • Stayed: June 2009, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank markemark090
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 June 2009

I read a lot of reviews before staying here and was surprised that some people loved it and some people hated it, unfortunately I was somewhere inbetween leaning more towards hating it.
PEOPLE - For me the dissapointment started as soon as I got off the plane. You are greeted by girls dressed up and taking pictures with you, they seemed annoyed to have to actually do this and did not even smile. They grab your arm, pull you towards them then push you away when done. I thought that maybe she was just having a bad day, but as we progressed through the airport all the people we came in contact with just seemed not to care and did not smile. That held true for just about everyone we encountered during our stay.
TRIP TO RESORT - Wow, I was a little uncomfortable in Mexico traveling from Cancun Airport to Playa Del Carmen, this place made Mexico seem like paradise. The trip takes you through what I guess you would call towns that are riddled with trash and debris and hundreds of people walking, sitting on the side of the road or riding motorcycles (three people on one!) everywhere. It was a very uncomfortable ride to the resort, with a little concern for safety.
RESORT - The grounds were beautiful once you reached the resort. The sand on the beach was soft and powdery and water was nice, not as blue or as clear as in Playa Del Carmen.
STAFF - Like mentioned earlier, no one cares! They all just seemed to be there to get a check and go home. No smiles, no great service, no service at all at times!
ROOMS - The rooms were nice but, ours was HOT and HUMID when we checked in and it never cooled off. Three calls to the front desk only got me "it will be fixed in 30 minutes" 4 hours later it cooled off some but never worked 100% while we were there. The people across the hall were complaining too, apparently the whole building was out. The mini fridge was warm and not replenished daily.
FOOD - We were sadly dissapointed in the food and both were sick on the last day there. I actually thought the buffet at the Bavaro was better than the one at the Ambar but it was still marginal at best. If they were out of something they did not care or have a sense of urgency to replenish it or take care of you it was just "we are out".
BARS - drinks were small and not very good, just about all the drinks were very sweet no matter what you ordered.
SHOPPING - Beware of the shopping area, you are practically mugged when you go through there, they are extremely pushy and rude and will just start putting things on you even when you tell them no thank-you. We gladly paid more in the gift shops just to avoid the vendors.
CASINO - HA, is that what you call that? I didn't expect Vegas, but I also didn't expect a room twice the size of my living room with 4 or 5 gaming tables and about 20 slot machines!!!! 3 were quarters and the rest were nickels and pennies, impressive.
OVERALL - I would not go back to the Dominican Republic, maybe other hotels have better food and service, but it seemed to me that between the resort and airport employees that is just they way the poeple are there. I would defineitely go back to Mexico again first or try another island.

  • Stayed: June 2009, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank txtraveler2009
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 June 2009

We arrived in Punta Cana along with a thunder storm; however the Punta Cana airport was a reasonably smooth experience. The airport tax and immigration fees were all taken care of by our travel company, so we had no hassles. That said finding our transportation and getting to the resort was a little un-nerving. The streets appear to be about a 1½ times as wide as a single lane in Canada or the U.S. As cars and buses whiz by one another, there are moments where you wonder if you are about to be a part of a head on collision. It’s a little crazy to say the least; however we arrived at the Resort in one piece.

Once at the resort, Gran Bahia Principe Ambar guests are dropped off at the Bahia Prinicpe Bavaro lobby with instructions to simply wait. What we discovered was that the Ambar lobby is only connected to the main drive by what is little more then a sidewalk and therefore cannot accommodate the bus that dropped us off. We had to wait for a smaller sized golf cart-like tram to take us and our luggage the rest of the way.

Once at the Ambar we were welcomed with a fruit beverage and check-in was very easy and fast. The Bell Boy took our luggage and we arrived at our room and got settled. The rooms at the Ambar are very nice. The bathrooms contain both a shower and a Jacuzzi tub. There is plenty of storage space for your possessions and a safe for your valuables. I found the four poster king sized bed in our room very comfortable, however my wife thought the bed was too hard. In addition the Ambar has pillow menus where you can choose different pillows based on your preferences as well. I recommend that you request a corner room if available. The balcony is larger and far more suitable for lounging then the other rooms.

Room service is available and we had one occasion to call for room service asking for tea for my wife. I believe there was some confusion here as they didn’t feel they could get hot water. I don’t know, seemed like a simple request to me.

The resort itself is very large; especially when you consider that as Ambar guests you will have access to the Punta Cana and the Bavaro sections of this resort. There is plenty to see and do including all the restaurants which you will have access to. My personal favourite would be El Olivo. Surprisingly it was the one restaurant that I thought I may pass on, but it turned out to be the best experience by far. We generally did the Ambar Buffet off the lobby for most breakfasts and lunch was usually the Snack Bar next to the Ambar beach and pool.

The front desk staff, waiters, bartenders will speak English; however bus boys, housekeeping and grounds-keeping will likely only speak Spanish. Even when an employee of the hotel speaks English, their English will likely not be fluent. That said their English is probably better then most peoples Spanish.

We had the foresight to email the resort with our dinner requests based on other reviews on this site. We received all our requests. Overall the food was good (not great). If you go to dinner expecting 5 star restaurants from home, you will likely be dissapointed. I feel more time and effort are spent on presentation rather than on preparation. Good food is good food no matter what it looks like. While visually appealing most of the food was a little bland for my tastes.

The pool at the Ambar is nice and I would imagine in high season it could become rather crowded. For us (end of May), it was fine and we could always take advantage of the swim up bar and had space to swim on our own. The pool has both staircase entrances as well as a gradual slopped entrance to the water for those that may be physically infirmed. Please note the slopped entrance can be slippery for the first couple of steps.

The beach is absolutely beautiful. It stretches for miles in both directions of the Ambar and is as wide as you could imagine. We did not have to play the chair game at all. My wife is a late sleeper but we were always able to get lounges at the pool or the beach at any time of day. On the beach we always were able to find a vacant Palapa as well. The beach has easy access to a few resort bars and restaurants so you can quickly get a drink or a snack.

Each day we tipped our housekeeping staff and the staff that are responsible for stocking the mini-bar. Later in the week we learned that our mini bar was not being stocked each day with the items listed. When we called the front desk on this issue we were told there was a problem with the mini bars yet no offer was made to send someone to supply the missing items. The next day the missing items were also not there. Perhaps publishing what is to be included in the mini bar is unwise if they have trouble stocking all of these items (under promise and over deliver has always been my policy).

Overall I really enjoyed my time at the Ambar. There are always one or two things that don’t go the way you expect them. I’m a firm believer in making the best of the situation and enjoying my trip. My wife feels more strongly that with the money we pay we should get exactly what we want. I personally feel that this will only lead to disappointment rather than satisfaction. I would recommend the Ambar as a great destination but like any place you should expect a few hiccups.

  • Stayed: May 2009, travelled as a couple
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14  Thank Paul W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 June 2009

We stayed at the Gran Bahia Principe from March 29th to April 5th, in the Ambar section of the hotel.
Contact info for advance restaurant reservations:
Maribel Almonte: Public Relations gerenterrppbpamb@bahia-principe.com
I dealt with Maribel directly to setup my reservations prior to my arrival. She is the one you must contact for advance reservations.

Marcela Valerio: Sales Executive ventas2bppuj@bahia-principe.com
Her contact info is also referenced in other reviews on this website. She only told me she forwarded my requests to Mrs Rosa Velazquez, after which Maribel Almonte answered with my reservations...

LOCATION
The hotel site is extremely large, divided in multiple sections, each with their own, large lobby. Each section contains between 9 and 15 villas, each villa being 3 stories high with about 24 rooms in each villa, all setup like a small neighborhood with well kept vegetation all over the area. The Ambar section is located closest to the beach. Other sections of the hotel site (grand theater, restaurants, lobbies) are about 5 minutes away walking-distance for those in good shape. Otherwise, small carts driven by staff ensure transportation between the sites.
The room we had was roomy, situated in the corner of the villa. I apprehended the first floor, but was satisfied with it nonetheless. We had no trouble with noisy neighbors. We could hang our towels outside without fear of them being stolen. The bathroom was clean, and the toilet's water flowed just fine. The bed sheets were clean as well, but could have been cleaner (tiny hair could be found if meticulously searched for).

BEACH
The beach area is large, and allows for many kilometers in walking. The water was cold at this time of year, but bathable. The ambar area is reserved for ambar guests, and forbids kids. It is easy to relax.
There is a major lack of chairs and palapas (the sun umbrellas setup by the hotel), with most guests awaking at 5:30 in the morning to reserve their spot and watch sunrise, then go for breakfast, then return to the beach. Guests arriving at 8 am are to find a chair in the sun and try to hide in the shadow of a tree or bush if sunburning isn't your thing. I had to grab 2 chairs from the pool area in the bavaro section (a good 2-minute walk without chairs in your hands) and walk them all the way to the less crowded ambar beach, where we setup in the moving shadow of a palm tree.

FOOD
The standard buffet of the ambar section serves excellent breakfast for all tastes, excellent lunch and excellent dinner. Service is good as well.
Many restaurant buffets (1 at ambar, 1 at bavaro) are setup outside near the beach area, and also serve a good variety of food.
There are many restaurants in the hotel where reservations are to be made for dinner. Reservations should be made prior to your arrival in the country, or at the latest on your first day in the hotel, with guest service. The ambar room allows you unlimited "à la carte" dinners in those restaurants. We liked them all, mostly the French (Don Pablo) and Garden Grill, and least the Italian (poor service, poor food). Food is generally good. Only some are also buffets with different food from your basic buffet.
Note that all restaurants require that men wear long pants and collar shirts for dinner, even the buffet. Entrance is denied to those who fail to meet this requirement. Women can wear anything, as women are classy regardless of what they wear.
Also note that dinner begins at 6:30 PM, and your reservations are often at 8 or 9 PM if made late.
Contact information:
Rosa Velazquez: We only met her on site, but our requests for reservations were said to be forwarded to her.

Maribel Almonte: Public Relations gerenterrppbpamb@bahia-principe.com
I dealt with Maribel directly to setup my reservations prior to my arrival. She is the one you must contact for advance reservations.

Marcela Valerio: Sales Executive ventas2bppuj@bahia-principe.com
Her contact info is also referenced in other reviews on this website. She only told me she forwarded my requests to Mrs Rosa Velazquez, after which Maribel Almonte answered with my reservations...


STAFF
Staff are generally very helpful, and don't make you feel like they are driven uniquely by the tip, unlike Mexican staff. All staff are very cheerful. Note that we didn't have any hurdles that really put the staff to the test.

OTHER ACTIVITIES
There are on site tennis and mini-golf. Didn't try either. There is a small shopping area where you'll find tourist items sold. The outside area is infested with authorized dealers that harass tourists. Booking activities with your trip planner is a better idea if you want to go outside the beach.

NIGHTLIFE
Didn't try it. Slept.

Hope this helps!

  • Stayed: March 2009, travelled as a couple
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10  Thank Jell4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 June 2009

I was so excited to head down to the DR for my yearly vacation, but I left disappointed in the rooms, staff, and food.

The flight down was fine, although, the airport is a little hectic once you head out by the taxi stands - buses and tour groups everywhere, so know who you are looking for. Once we got to the GBP resort, we were dropped off at the Bavarro lobby. We walked up to the desk to check-in and the clerk, Juan, just looked at us and asked, "Do you have any papers for me?" Okay, great first impression - we don't even get a welcome or hello? Then he looks at them and says that we have to go to Ambar - like we should know that this lobby wasn't it. So we get on the trolley and get up to our hotel. Everything is fine until we get to our room (7:00 pm), and the mini-bar is not stocked. We call the desk and they say the mini-bar service is closed for the night - great.

During the course of the week, we became increasingly annoyed by the food and service. First, the food. Not good at all. Who wants to eat cut up hot dogs from the previous day for breakfast? Apparently, GBP Ambar thinks you do. It was the same stuff over and over - deli meat (which didn't even look good and they had it out for breakfast - which ends at 10:30), roasted potatoes, dry sausage, and nachos. Their nacho cheese and chocolate sauce (figured I could drown my food in one of the two) didn't even taste like anything. The a la cart restaurants were a waste of time. They didn't turn the air on (to save money?) in these restaurants so it was stifling hot; the service was extremely slow, and the food was exactly what you get at the buffet. Don Pablo was okay, we had that our last night. One day they were handing out hotel surveys, and every waiter and host came to our table to see what we put down for them! What is that about??? Someone even followed us out to the survey drop-box and called out for us to hold up so that he could see what we put - no lie!


Next, service. My overall impresssion was that they didn't seem very happy to help you. Most of them were curt, only a few were happy, and most assumed you knew how to do things around there. Several staff memebers at the check-in desks (several lobbies) didn't even know where our tour group's desk was on the resort, leaving us to walk around the entire facility, they didn't even call anyone. We called the desk to ask for a pillow from the pillow menu, and never got it. We asked for an umbrella b/c the one in our room was broken, they came 1 hour and 45 mins. later, when we were asleep. Forget relying on the mini-bar for drinks or food - we only got ours stocked half the time. And, it never had what it was supposed to have. One day we only got 1 rum, one day a rum and whisky (you are supposed to have rum, whiskey, vodka every day); we only got orange soda and 7Up one day (again, get every day), and we only got the pringles twice. Later on in the week, we had to call for mini-bar service again b/c they didn't come. I've read about people tipping for the mini-bar guy, but do you really have to leave a tip to get the stuff you are entitled to? I can see if we wanted extra, but we didn't even get the standard.

Finally, the rooms. They are okay. Don't expect an ocean view, b/c you won't get one. It was quiet on our floor, so that was nice. The floors are tiled, so you hear everything going on in the hallway. Our bath tub didn't work, and we didn't even bother to call the desk about it. The shower was odd, there was a hole in the pipe to the shower head, so water was also shooting out at your chest the whole time (not sure if that is every room). The bed was not comfy - in fact, my boyfriend said his back was hurting every morning b/c of it. We only had 3 pillows - not enough for a king size bed. The maid service was fine - but we aren't really messy.

Overall, I expected something more indulgent. It's not like I am used to staying at the Ritz or anything, but since everyone there is probably on vacation, spoil us a little. The bar closed at 11:00 (at an adults only resort?); the "village" shopping area was a joke, just junk shops; and the vendors will all but assault you in order for you to buy something, don't bother approaching them if you don't want all that hassle. The shopping/vendor area (which was very run-down) is controlled by the resort, yet they put no money into it. I would never go back there, strictly b/c it is just nothing great. I have no idea why others have written in with such praises, b/c I didn't see it.

  • Stayed: March 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Rooms
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4  Thank casualtravelermd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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