My husband and I got married at the Luxury Bahia Principe Esmeralda in October of this year. We stayed for two weeks. (see the wedding review at the bottom)
When we first arrived everything was perfect, the staff were super friendly and extremely helpful. Ada, the front desk manager was at our beck and call. We had over 100 guests traveling from UK and Canada to attend to wedding so we arrived early to ensure our guests would be looked after. Ada worked with us to ensure that all the room requests were fulfilled and that our group was placed close together. She kept us looped in as they worked through changes that were requested. She was very good to us and very helpful in accommodating our large group.
Our room was gorgeous, we had the corner suite in block 90, and we had a view of the pool and the beach from our balcony. It was the perfect room except for a leak in the air conditioner. We did get a stressed by the leak situation but Ada had the leak checked out and had the problem fixed. She also regularly followed up with us to ensure the problem was resolved. A bottle of rum, resort shirts and chocolates were left in on our bed a few times during our stay which we thought was very nice and thoughtful.
The grounds were beautiful and very well maintained. My husband and I were up at five am on morning to see the sun rise. Shortly after we arrived on the beach we noticed the resort staff cleaning up seaweed along the beach, they really go to a lot of trouble to ensure the beach area is clean. We didn’t notice people playing the towel game. We always had a chair to use on the beach.
Our butler Marihilenny was great once we learned we had a butler. We had rose petals on our bed, lavender scented pillows and special baths drawn up in the Jacuzzi. The maids were also very good, we had a generous supply of towels and our rooms were always made up while we were out at the beach or by the pool.
The pools were amazing. Our group often used the pool next to the Bahia spa for more privacy and so we could play our own music. I had an opportunity to visit the spa three times, twice for massages and once to have my hair done for the wedding reception. The girl that did my hair did such an amazing job. I am very particular so I was scared that I would not like the end result but it turned out so great. I received a lot of compliments, especially from my husband!
Our guests really enjoyed the amenities and the unlimited al la cartes. The food was delicious even the food at the buffets (jasmine and snack bar on the beach) was very good. The room service menu was a little lacking but the food around the resort was awesome. We ate at the Don Pablo, Maiko, Bell Italia, Takara, Le Gourmet and Garden Grill all were fantastic. The food at the wedding and reception was also very good. We requested Dominican cuisine at the reception and it was delicious. The head chef at the resort was very good.
The porters and the bell service guys were really good and at the guest services Manuel was the guy that really looked after us. Carlos at the bell service and Manuel at guest services treated us like friends and made whatever we asked for happen. Also a special shout out to Israel who we ran in to at various restaurants during our stay. He was such a cool guy.
The two people that were not helpful and were rude to us were Smirling and Carlos at the front desk. Smirling seemed to go out of his way to complicate things.
When we first arrived at the resort the wedding group was great to us. They looked after our restaurant bookings, food tastings, picked us up from our rooms and took us wherever we needed to go. However, the day of the wedding they really dropped the ball. Actually the night before I was trying to pay the wedding charges but the front desk guy couldn’t figure out the billing so he told me not to worry, that he would make a note of the situation.
Come the day of the wedding, Minel who seemed like an angel and promised everything would run smoothly threated my sisters that if we didn’t pay the wedding bill that the wedding would not take place. When she was advised she was ruining the day she said, “that’s okay, its perfect.” The wedding was supposed to start at 11 am and at 9 they hadn’t started setting up yet (keep in mind we have 100 guests). Our guests started to arrive by 10:30 as they were instructed ended up having to wait an hour in the scorching heat for the wedding to start because the wedding planners stalled the wedding. They were also supposed to provide transportation to the wedding but they were soo confused so our guests had to make their own way to the wedding.
We had guests that we pre-paid to enter the resort from other resorts but they were hassled at the front desk. In one situation Minel dragged our friend and his wife out of the reception because they were from outside the resort. She wanted them to pay for the reception even though they had paid to enter the resort and we had paid for the dinner, the alcohol and room rental for the hall we were using!
That brings me to the worst part of the resort which is the wedding department. They want to charge for every little thing even though we were at an all-inclusive resort! We had a ceremony close to the pool, we asked for water and refreshments (pop, not ever alcohol) and we were told it would cost $15 per person! We didn’t think that was right so our sisters and brothers brought down refreshments from our rooms!
Minel should not be working at the resort as a wedding planner; she is clearly over her head. She really did ruin a lot of things for us. When she forgot things on the day of the wedding she would blame me and tell me that I never told her any of that. She never took responsibility for anything. We paid for an extra three hours to have the reception run till midnight but the air conditioner in the restaurant was turned off at 10:30 so our guests started to leave. The wedding planners were not even around to fix the situation. They left the reception at 9 so they didn’t even stay to ensure everything ran smooth.
All the cared about was getting paid and they didn’t ensure we got the service we needed. Our wedding cake wasn’t served. We had to pay a package fee, per person for the ceremony, a hall rental for having a private reception, per person for dinner and per person for open bar service. Initially they wanted pp bar for people that don’t drink alcohol too but I had to tell them that it didn’t make sense to do that. When they finally let up on that they told us they were making a BIG BIG exception for us (really!?). After everything we had to pay for we didn’t get the two extra hours for our reception, our wedding cake and the 6 bottles of Moet that were supposed to be served. If we had paid after we could have disputed the charges.
We demanded to see a manager, but we kept getting a sorry no one around to see you or we can’t reimburse you, sorry it’s too late.
We finally got a manager when we went to the privilege club presentation. My sister was going to buy based on the property but when she recalled how the wedding department staff treated us, especially Minel she told the presenter why she couldn’t…guess what?? She booked me and my husband a meeting with the acting manager for the entire resort.
I must say that when we met with the acting manager of the resort things got better. He met with us three times and he brought staff with him to hear us out and sought resolutions that would satisfy us. We had a great stay the unfortunate part was the experience with the wedding department. This manager was the manager for the Ambar, he had dinner with us on our last night and invited us to his resort for a beach party. He also took care of a few issues for us. We wish we had met him earlier but at least we had the opportunity to draw his attention to the situation and he helped us out as best as he could. We are hoping to go back to visit the resort but this time experience his hospitality in the Ambar section.
Amazing resort but be aware if you plan to get married here!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Facilities and services 2 Pools Sun terrace 4 Jacuzzis Sun umbrellas and loungers Beach and pool towel service BAHIA SPA (additional charge) Sports facilities: gym, 3 tennis courts, 1 padel tennis court (additional charge), multi-sports court Water activity centre Motorised water sports (additional charge) WiFi access in the lobby (free) and in rooms (additional charge) Entertainment amphitheatre 2 buffet restaurants 3 speciality restaurants 3 Bars 1 Snack- bar Wedding gazebo 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, 570 Deluxe Junior Suite Room facilities: King size bed or two full size beds Air conditioning Ceiling fan Sitting area with sofa Terrace Fully-equipped bathroom with hydromassage bath tub and separate shower, hair dryer and magnifying mirror Bathrobe and slippers VIP amenities Radio-alarm clock Flat screen satellite TV Coffee-making facilities Ironing set Pillow menu Umbrella 24 hour room service Minibar WiFi 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 Esmeralda Hotel Punta Cana