We read a lot of reviews before staying here and were a little nervous about selecting the Ambar (especially because we were on our honeymoon). The Air Transat agent assured us that it was spectacular and she'd heard nothing but good things. So, we assumed that the reviews must have been written by "those who compain about everything." You know who they are. Surely, not us.
Unfortunately, much of what was written proved to be true. We won't re-hash too much of it, as you can read it elsewhere. The biggest disappointment came from the service/food. You are allowed three reservations at restaurants during a 7-day period. You can, at your own initiative, try to make more. We did try and ended up spending hours trying to haggle for reservations at a sit-down so as to avoid the hideous buffet. No amount of money, cajoling, begging seemed to help. Finally, we managed to somehow get to five of the restaurants. We later learned that the Ambar only gets 20 spots per night at the restaurants not located on the Ambar property, with the remainder going to other Bahia guests. When you walk into the restaurants, they are nearly EMPTY. Because it's low-season, they don't have the staff on hand to serve, which means they don't let you eat at the sit-downs because they don't have the service. Hardly five star policy. The food itself was pretty bad, as other have commented - salty, bland, swimming in sauce. Even after eating at the a-la-cartes, we would sometimes go to the buffets, just to grab some bread and cheese or pizza because they were the only palatable things out there. So, the food and the reservation system is what it is.
The service, as others have mentioned, is a bit lacking. As I mentioned, we were on our honeymoon, which they apparently lost the record of. Although they did upgrade our room slightly, it took talking to three different people to get something special done for us. That something special turned out to be a miniature bottle of rum, two Ambar t-shirts, and a scalding bubble bath. Oh well.
Other annoying things we wish we would have known: no air conditioning in the common areas, including some of the restaurants, so you are constantly sweating; they don't give you hair conditioner (but will sell you conditioner for $10/bottle), so bring your own; the showers are quite small (very difficult for two people to fit comfortably); you are limited to one beach towel a person, which you can exchange for a new towel when it's dirty; no HBO or ability to get English movies, unless you want to watch Lifetime for a week; no steam iron and crappy ironing board, but they will iron for you for a fee; difficulty communicating with employees, very few employees speak English; Ambar bar closes at 11:30; all the shops are extremely high-priced, so don't forget anything.
Also, all employees seem to be incapable of deviating from the "rule book". For instance, my husband was wearing dress shorts, collared shirt and dress sandals one night and we went to the buffet to get dessert. They wouldn't let him in even though they would let people with ripped jeans and baseball caps in. I, being a woman, could wear shorts (and was wearing them), so I had to go in, get the ice cream and bring it out so we could eat it in the lobby. Arbitrariness to its finest. Another example of this was when we were at the Mexican restaurant and I asked for chicken, instead of mixed, fajitas. They told me it was impossible. No reason, they just wouldn't do it. Stupid stuff like that happened all the time. The rules are the rules.
Good things about the resort: the grounds are immaculate and exceptional - looks just like the pictures; the beach is beautiful and the Ambar section is much quieter than the rest of the resort (you can even get umbrellas by the beach if you come out at noon); good nightly entertainment (not "Dancing with the Stars" quality but good for a resort).
A note on Air Transat for those of you travelling with that airline. In a word, DON'T. Even though we were on our honeymoon, they didn't give us seats next to each other. And we arrived at the airport 3 hours before departure to ensure we'd be sitting together. Great start. We were then delayed 1 1/2 hours going down due to engine problems, which they announced to the entire plane, fraying a lot of nerves (including ours). Overall, the flight down wasn't bad, just very cramped. The flight back was awful. The bus picked us up from the hotel 4 1/2 hours before our flight, which meant we were sitting in a hot airport for what seemed like forever. The air conditioning for the 4-hour flight to Toronto wasn't working properly, so we sat there, like sardines, sweating buckets. The flight attendants were more concerned about selling duty free than they were about serving, so it took a full hour and a half to get a glass of water. And, again, the tactlessness of the crew is disconcerting. At one point, while going through some bad turbulence, the flight attendant pointed out that to the right of the plane you could see a "really cool lightning storm". The woman in the seat next to us commented, "Isn't that how the Air France plane went down?" Again, some tact would have been nice. And as we were about the land, the flight attendant made a point to remind us to locate the nearest emergency exit in case of a crash landing. What's up with these people!? Also, bring your own snacks because the food is disgusting, microwavable faux-Chinese both ways.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Facilities and services 2 pool Sun terrace with sun umbrellas and loungers Relaxation zone with Bali beds Outdoor Jacuzzi BAHIA SPA (additional charge) Sports facilities: gym, 3 tennis courts, multi-sports court Water activity centre Motorised water sports (additionalcharge) WiFi access in the lobby (free) and in rooms (additional charge) Entertainment amphitheatre Wedding gazebo 1 buffetrestaurant 3 speciality restaurants 4 bars 1 snack- bar Gazebo de bodas Smokers' lounge with bar service (cigar menu with additional charge) Punta Blanca Golf Club: 18 hole Punta Blanca Golf Club, designed by Nick Price (additional charge) Pueblo Principe: Shopping and Leisure Mall with local craft stores, live music, shows, stores, bars, karaoke, disco and casino. Rooms 528 Deluxe Junior Suites Room facilities: King size bed or two full size beds Ceiling fan Air conditioning Sitting area with sofa Terrace Fully-equipped bathroom with hydromassage bath tub and separate shower, hair dryer Bathrobe and slippers Don Pablo Collection amenities Direct phone line (additional charge for external calls) Alarm clock with iPod docking station Flat screen TV Coffee-making machine Minibar Safe Butler service 24 hour room service Evening turndown service Pillow menu 2 disabled rooms for a maximum of 3 adults Prime location right on the sea front Exclusive lake-style pool Aroma menu WiFi (additional charge) Other services Medical service (additional charge) Pharmacy (additional charge) Specialised service for organising weddings, incentive trips, events and anniversaries Personalised menus (for celiacs, diabetics, etc.) Available on request ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Gran Bahia Principe Ambar Hotel Punta Cana