Let me preface this by saying that we're not new to the all-inclusive resort scene, and we always go for the 5 stars. I'm writing this from the resort itself (Last day). We booked with Nolitours out of Ottawa (unfortunately you lose a full day with Nolitours - arrive at midnight on Sunday, leave 9am the following Sunday). The Catalonia Royal is another row of six buildings, plus executive villas, another lobby, two more pools, another spa with hot tubs, and three more restaurants attached to the Catalonia Bavaro resort, so as a Royal guest you have access to two resorts essentially that are just a couple of hedges and a pathway apart.
Facilities: This resort is beautifully built. Great pools, great suites, and the most beautiful landscaping. Everything worked great, except for the day we had power and water outages, and didn't have hot water back until 9pm. This "musty smell" people on here complain about is called humidity. Run the A/C and it goes away. Not sure if the deluxe suite upgrade we did was worth it - we seem to have everything the non-deluxe people have, and we still don't have a view being on the ground floor. The walls are paper thin and you hear everything. The infinity pool is quiet (no music) which is nice, and even at the other pool you don't have the same typical cheesy music you usually hear. There were several songs I was glad NOT to hear for a change! There are more than enough beach loungers at the beach and both pools for everyone.
Food: The food is great - for a resort. Sure, there are some not-so-good items on the menu and things they don't know how to make properly (eg. crab cake at the Rodeo - it's cold and spongey and weird. California roll at Sea Blue at lunch is deep fried), but overall we were able to find something we liked everywhere. They also have low-fat and vegan options, and the juice at the breakfast restaurant is usually real freshly-squeezed juice, not the typical sugary crap at most resorts (except for today - it was Tang for some reason instead of real OJ). You don't need to make reservations at the restaurants - just show up (earlier is better so that you dont have to wait). And the best thing, since you have access to all restaurants including the Bavaro side of the resort, you have 7 restaurants in total and can completely avoid the buffet.
Service: Hit-or-miss. Everybody that works here is really friendly and not at all pushy, but I often had to repeat orders until I get my food or beverages since they forget, or repeat room requests with the reception. Maids also take the old towels, etc but then forget to replenish - every day I had to get something myself from the maid cart or ask them for something that was forgotten. Today they completely forgot to make up our room, so we had to go get everything we needed ourselves. It is hard to find people here that can communicate in English, but they do try, but it's very rare. Even at the stores they speak very poor English. Definitely bring an English-Spanish dictionary!
Security: Non-existant if you need it. We had a male couple get into a fight two doors down from us - a physical fight that carried into the hallway. I called security twice, and I know of at least two other parties on our floor that called security. And one of the two involved in the domestic dispute says he called three times. Nobody ever came.
Excursions: We did the Santo Domingo tour ($95 pp) and don't recommend it. Wait two years until they finish the highway, and then instead of 3.5 hours in a crappy smelly bus each way it will only be 1.5 hours. The sites are also not worth that whole day of tourist traps and bus rides. We almost did the dune buggy excursion ($55 pp), but were told by acquaintances here that went on that excursion that you only spend a half hour actually driving the buggy on a paved road, the rest of the time you're stuck with vendors trying to sell you stuff. One person that went to the cave disco really enjoyed it, so if you like discos it could be worth checking out.
Some tips that could be of interest to travellers:
- WiFi in the rooms (albeit slow and very unrealiable - typed the review at the resort, and ended up having to wait until I was home until I could actually submit it without timing out). If you bring your laptop and an HDMI cable, you can hook it up to the LCD in the room (Panasonic Viera)
- Both 110v and 220v outlets availble in bathroom and living room, but not nearly enough! I had to unplug a light or TV to plug in my laptop
- Safe is provided free of charge in the rooms
- Bathrobes and slippers provided, but no facecloths unless requested (maybe bring your own?).
- The hotel has a better exchange rate than the airport (37 pesos per US dollar compared with 32 at airport). Hotel itself only deals in US dollars though. They have a bank and ATMs though to withdraw pesos. You need your passport with you to change money at the bank.
- The hotel has MUCH better prices for rum in their shops than the airport duty free. The airport duty free was actually pretty expensive
- Remember that "Dominican time" applies here. If they say five minutes, it could be half an hour to an hour. They will also close the stores here early if they feel like it, so don't wait until the last minute if you want something.
- The only difference between a deluxe suite and a regular suite is size.
If anyone has any questions, please don't hesitate to ask!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Enjoy the authentic Caribbean at an exclusive, adults-only resort. Its small details make big your stay and the personalized service you receive will make you feel as if you were in heaven. Exclusive suites, innovative restaurants, dreamlike swimming pools…relax in this tropical paradise and enjoy the best vacation you’ve ever had. Have an extraordinary experience, and leave the worrying to us; we’ll take care of you. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Catalonia Royal Bavaro Hotel Punta Cana
- Catalonia Royal Bavaro Punta Cana
- Royal Catalonia Bavaro