My family and I spent a week at the Bahia Principe Esmerelda at the end of March and we had a really nice time! This trip was our first to the Dominican Republic and we were looking for a nice resort for a family vacation that included ours (3) and my sister’s family (5).
The Esmerelda is one resort on the larger Bahia Principe property. A major plus for the Esmerelda is that it is smaller and compact – everything is really easy to get to. The other hotels on the property are HUGE in comparison. From our room in Building 91 at the Esmerelda, we could literally get to everything in under 2 minutes (lobby, pool, restaurants, beach). The tram system is handy if you do want to go to other areas of the property – restaurants at the other hotels, the water park etc.
Our room was nice, not the nicest I’ve stayed in, but still nice. We had requested a room with two beds, but only got a room with a King bed and couch. It wasn’t what we had asked for, but it was ok – we travelled with our 7-yr old and the housekeeping staff made the couch up into a bed for her. The furniture was a little beat up and the room certainly broken in – but everything was functional and clean. We had housekeeping service early in the day each day and everything was always re-stocked. Word of caution – the beds are HARD. My husband couldn’t take it after two nights and slept on the couch for the bulk of our trip. Our room was on the first floor – and faced the service road at the back of the resort, but I did not find it noisy at all. We did not hear anything from the rooms around us, and the patio doors completely blocked any outside noise.
We didn’t have any issues with protecting our belongings, but my sister had some money stolen from her safe during our stay. The amount stolen was just a portion of the cash they had in their safe – so that they wouldn’t immediately notice it being gone. All you can do is be as vigilant as possible with your belongings – keep everything (even medications and electronics) locked in the safe when you are not in the room, keep your patio/balcony door locked and make sure your room door is completely closed when you go out.
We ate breakfast and the majority of our dinners at the Jasmin buffet. I found the selection and quality of food good. There was always enough to choose from to accommodate the variety of tastes in our group (4 adults, 4 children). The kids particularly chocolate fountain dessert bar! The snack bar next to the beach was just great for lunch! The open-air environment was really enjoyable, we could just go in our swimsuits and cover-ups.
The service in any of the restaurants was just so-so. In a lot of cases we would be seated at tables that weren’t entirely set – something was always missing and getting someone’s attention to bring what was needed was difficult. My impression of the staff was that they were polite, but un-interested – everyone was nice, but no one went out of their way to take care of us. Very different from my experiences in Mexico.
We tried the Bella Italia a la carte at the Esmerelda - and I wouldn’t recommend it. The menu was very limited and the food wasn’t very good at all. We didn’t even stay for the dessert course – we just went to the Jasmin. I would recommend the Maiko restaurant on the Bavaro resort – we had a great meal there. Everyone really enjoyed it! My sister e-mailed the resort with requests for a la carte reservations the week before we arrived, and we had no trouble getting booked.
We loved the main pool at the Esmerelda – it has a beach entry, which was perfect for the kids (ranging in age from 1-7). We never had difficulty getting chairs by the pool – but we were shamelessly ‘reserving’ spots for ourselves each day by taking our pool stuff and putting it on our chairs on our way to breakfast. The hotel doesn’t want you ‘reserving’ chairs overnight – but no one seemed to have any issue with staking out spots in the morning.
The beach is lovely – clean and the sand is soft. The beach is crowded though – a lot more people than I’m used to from trips to the Mayan Riviera.
Overall an enjoyable trip - we had the family vacation we were hoping for. The resort is certainly nice, but between the lower level of service (than I'm used to) and someone in our party being robbed - I can only give this a Very Good review.
- 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 (free of 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 (free of 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 Esmeralda Hotel Punta Cana