Gran Bahia Principe Ambar 10 – 24 June 2009
As we always read reviews about holiday resorts before we book, we thought it was about time we wrote one of our own. Sorry it is a bit long
The hotel is made up of three parts: Bavaro, Punto Cana, Ambar. Ambar has a 5 star rating but I think it is really should be a four star, Bavaro and Punto Cana are also 5 star rating but I think these should be 3 star rating. The walk ways are clean, the rooms in Ambar are very good, and spacious, there are 6 pools within the complex, and if you book into Ambar, you can use all the pools. There is regular transport around the hotel complex, just hop onto the shuttles which will take you around the site, but maybe not exactly where you want to go. The beach is lovely clean and not too crowded in front of Ambar. There is not much around the hotel, however there is the usual souvenir shops a short taxi drive away, but the same things can be bought in the hotel souvenir shops and about the same price. There is a large American mall a little further, but I have heard the prices are high.
Food and Drink:
The food in Ambar buffet is very good considering it is a buffet. Of course I would expect higher class food in a UK “al a carte” restaurant, but it is high class for a buffet. They do change the menu at the buffet so you don’t have to eat the same kind of food every night. We have had Steak, Lamb, pork, Fish, Lobster, shrimp and various vegetables and other things all of which have been good. I am very disappointed in the drinks in the hotel. They are definitely watered down at the pool bars. We changed to Champaign, wine or beer to avoid this and a few cocktails, even the Bailey’s was tampered with, I think they added milk and cinnamon. We did see the people in Bavaro and Punto Cana queuing up for the buffet service, but never in Ambar. The food quality is much better at Ambar buffet.
There are eleven “Al a Carte” restaurants in the complex, if you book into Ambar you will be able to use 4 per week. They are Italian, Spanish, Mexican, Japanese, French, Steak grill and Seafood. Booking the restaurants is difficult and dates were limited. Unfortunately the quality in these restaurants is not up to scratch, and I think Ambar buffet offers better quality of food and service. The Seafood, Japanese and Steak grill were OK.
Take US Dollars, don’t bother with Pesos, they give you a bad exchange rate in the shops because their APR in Dominican Republic is currently 28.5%. The people in Dominican Republic are poor but prices are still higher than the UK, example sunscreen cream is about 18 dollars.
The staff are friendly, however the staff whom book your restaurant reservations were not very friendly, and there were not many restaurants available when we wanted to book them, so book early to avoid disappointments.
Pool and Beaches:
The pools in Bavaro and Punto Cana can be very noisy, with Children, loud music and a DJ in Spanish, not very relaxing. There are quite spots within Bavaro and Punto Cana pools but you do have to look for them. The pool in Ambar is quite and peaceful. Maybe once a week the DJ turns on the music and has a pool aerobics class. People from Bavaro or Punto Cana cannot use the pools in Ambar. There is a pool bar in every pool. The beach has soft white sands. There has always been shade by the beach but maybe not in a spot where you can see the sea. The sea is calm, with beautiful still blue waters.
We have been quite lucky with the weather, when we left the UK, the weather report indicated tropical storms, but upon arrival the weather was sunny and hot. The hotel seems to be in a hot spot, where there is cloud all around the area but not above the hotel. Seems strange, but true. The quality sun tan lotion in Dominican Republic is very expensive so buy this before you leave the UK.
I am one whom loves to go on excursions; therefore we participated in seven excursions. I think the excursions are overpriced and a lot of them are two short, but I think this is the way of the industry now.
Outback Safari $89 (half day)
Looking at a typical Dominican home. Seeing the production of coconut oil, coco and cigars. Tasting the local drink, Mamajuana. A change to do some local shopping.
Soana Island $90 (full day)
This includes a two and a half hour bus ride to the harbour, then sail to the island, lunch and relax on the island. Then a speed boat to the middle of the ocean where you can stand in the ocean and find large star fish, finally a speed boat back to the harbour. Recommended.
Zip Lines $89 (half day)
These are fun but very quickly over. Some zip lines take 3-5 seconds while the longest takes 23-27 seconds. A total of 10 zip lines. Recommended
Quad Biking $89 (half day)
This was fun but at the start they were pushing for sales of local merchandise. Swim in the small caves and swim at the beach. There was a lot of mud so wear old clothing if possible. This excursion was a lot of fun after the hard sell. I wish the beach ride was a lot longer though. Recommended
Reef Explorer $89 (full day)
Very short boat ride, swim with sting rays and nurse sharks, snorkel, massage, canoe.
Speed Venture boating $75 (half day)
Ride in two man speed boats, then snorkelling. Highly recommended.
Horse Riding $65
Riding on a stunning beach. Served coconuts just picked from the tree. Highly recommended.
If you have booked into Bavaro or Punto Cana you can upgrade to Ambar for 15 dollars per person per day, this is a well worth it upgrade. Obviously if available.
- 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 (free) 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 (free) 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