Having just returned from an unforgettable, week-long stay at Golden Bear, I feel compelled to share my experience with other potential visitors.
I read the negative reviews with concern before my arrival, and I am beyond happy that we stuck with our gut and decided to visit Golden Bear anyway. I strongly urge you to do the same. This is a top-notch resort and property, and they deserve to be successful. Just as importantly, you deserve to enjoy the kind of experience that we just did.
It sounds to me like these reviewers were visiting at the same time. We did not experience any of these issues, and any time we had requests, they were handled professionally and efficiently.
Many of the reviews take direct aim at the staff of Golden Bear. Ignore what they said - the staff is absolutely wonderful! To say they were courteous and attentive would be an understatement. By the time we left, we felt like we had made a whole new group of friends. We are counting down the minutes until we can return.
We chose to purchase the "Endless Privileges" All-Inclusive Package. When they say "all-inclusive," they mean it. It's all taken care of, including gratuities. The truth is, though, that the service is so good that you might find yourself wanting to tip people anyway.
Included in our package, aside from the stunning room/apartment (more to follow), were round trip airport transfers, unlimited food and drink - including room service, maid service 3 times per day, champagne and fruit daily, a bottle of rum, worldwide phone service, internet, certificates for a 20 minute massage for each person (which we used as a credit towards longer massages), access to spa and fitness center facilities, and - last, but certainly not least - two certificates to play the Punta Espada Golf Course ($330+ value, and worth every penny - truly outstanding).
We were greeted at the Punta Cana (PUJ) airport by a representative from a local company, arranged by the hotel. Finding them was no problem, as they had a sign clearly displaying my name. The representative spoke excellent English, and he shared with us some preliminary information about the Dominican Republic that set the tone for our stay.
Upon arrival at the resort, we were greeted by Ramon - great guy! - and we met Kenya and Nicholas in the reception area. Kenya and Nicholas were our go-tos with any questions or concerns, and they took care of arranging shuttle service for us or any other needs. In fact, they were so kind as to arrange for us a trip to La Romana to see a Dominican Baseball game. They speak English fluently, so communication was not a problem at all.
Ramon and Lorenzo escorted us to our room, and we were giddy the moment we set foot inside. This is more of an apartment than a room. The wonderfully spacious apartment featured two bathrooms (1 full and 1 half), a washer/dryer unit, a fully-equipped kitchenette (full refrigerator, sink with disposal, coffee maker, and panini maker), a large dining room table, a living room setup (with a couch, chairs, and TV), two terraces overlooking the Las Iguanas Golf Course and Caribbean Sea (one terrace includes a personal plunge pool!), a spacious bedroom (including a king-size bed and a desk), a closet with a safe, and a luxurious bathroom (including two sinks, a jacuzzi, and a beautiful shower with two shower heads).
The apartment is air conditioned and very comfortable, and it was the perfect "home base" for our stay. The minibar is really your full refrigerator, and it is stocked fresh each day by the Golden Bear Staff. You'll get some champagne each day, a couple bottles of wine, as much beer as you want, bottled waters, sodas, etc. You can also order room service to have gourmet food and more drinks brought right to you if you don't feel like going to the restaurant.
The maid service is excellent, and each time we returned to our apartment after going to the beach, pool, or golf course, it was nice and clean.
The food may have been the highlight of the stay. Everything was immaculately prepared and delicious. For breakfast and dinner, you eat at the Magnolia Restaurant, and for lunch, you eat at The Grill, which is beside the pool.
Before talking about the food, I need to make mention of the wait staff. Joel, Boris, Jesus, Carlos, and everyone else were wonderful. They all have a great "positive energy" about them and make you feel really good. They are incredibly attentive, and they go out of their way to make sure you are taken care of.
The food itself was delicious, and the portions were very large. You will not leave hungry, that is for sure!
The pool is very large and beautifully designed. When you sit beside the pool, you have a great view of the golf course and the ocean in the distance. Saul, the bartender, will prepare you some nice drinks while you enjoy the sun and the view.
The spa is not 100% complete yet, but it is open and functional. Chances are you just want a massage, and the massage rooms are set up and ready to go. Both my girlfriend and I received excellent massages by any standard. There is also a hot tub, sauna, and post-massage sitting/relaxation area. The steam room was not yet ready during our visit, but I believe it will be ready soon.
We chose Cap Cana because we heard that the beaches are second to none. You will not be let down. There are (at least) two beaches nearby -- Juanillo and Caleton. The sand is just perfect, and the water has all the brilliant shades of blue -- Absolutely beautiful. You can't help but be happy on the beaches.
There is a Cap Cana shuttle service that you can take - at no cost - to go to the marina, the beaches, and other restaurants. The drivers are friendly and courteous, and they arrive within 15 minutes of your call. All the local attractions have the phone number for the shuttle, so it's just a call away. There's even a mini-market in the marina where you can pick up wine and food to prepare in your apartment. We didn't do that, but if we had known more going in, we might have.
PUNTA ESPADA GOLF COURSE
If you are a golfer, you must play this course. All the incredible reviews you'll find about it online are true. Two rounds were included with our all-inclusive package, and this was definitely a highlight of the trip for me. There is a $20 caddy fee and a $20 cart fee, and you may want to tip your caddy. Also, one day, my girlfriend went with me, and there was a $20 fee for her to walk the course -- well worth it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Inspired by the life and lifestyle of the legendary "Golden Bear", Jack Nicklaus, and perfectly situaded near his signature golf course Punta Espada. Xeliter Golden Bear Lodge is conveniently located 10 minutes from Punta Cana's International Airport. Our accommodations are exquisite designed within great spaces to bring a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere along with great views to the turquoise sea: Ocean View Studio Suites, and one and two bedrooms Ocean View Suites. A flat-screen TV, iPod docking station, and CD/DVD player are included in all condos at Xeliter Golden Bear Lodge. The rooms are stylishly decorated in tropical colors and also boast a fully equipped kitchen. Concierge service from 7:00am to 11:00pm, multilingual staff, Golf Concierge, tennis courts, swimming pool and jacuzzi are waiting for you at this spectacular and luxurious suites overlooking the Caribeen Sea. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Golden Bear Lodge Cap Cana Hotel Punta Cana