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“Fantastic Resort despite Questionnable Service”

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Catalonia Royal Bavaro
Ranked #46 of 111 Hotels in Punta Cana
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersGold level
Ottawa
Level Contributor
7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Fantastic Resort despite Questionnable Service”
Reviewed 12 December 2010

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!

  • Stayed December 2010, travelled as a couple
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    • Service
Helpful?
10 Thank dodgingwrenches
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Cary
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 December 2010

This resort is amazing!!! We stayed on the Royal side in a junior suite deluxe. When you first pull up from the outside the appearance of the lobby makes you nervous but once through the lobby the grounds are breathtaking and the rooms are better than the pictures show! Everything worked including wi-fi, no odors, our maids were very good. We did tip her $2/3 everyday actually handing it to her when leaving and she would do our room next. The lobby for the Bavaro side is REALLY nice which makes sense since that is the bigger side but I think they could spruce the lobby up on the adult side more. I would highly suggest staying on the Royal side there are 2 beautiful pools, 3 restaurants and 4 bars for adults only and the beach on our side is not as crowded with better lounge chairs.

Thursday night is a beach party on our side which was fun. I think they should do it more than once a week. Night life on the Bavaro side is better but it’s just a short walk to get to the other side cutting through the walk ways which are very nicely lighted and security walking up and down. If you would prefer you can go to the lobby and they will drive you wherever you want to go on the other side in one of the shuttles or if an empty one is passing you just waive at the driver and he will stop for you. They have a show every night that we would see in passing on our way to eat or while hanging out at the main bar on the Bavaro side…it’s just okay I never saw anything that made me want to sit through an entire show. If you want to check out other resorts and their shows it’s about a 15/20 min taxi ride. The other resorts are all closer together but Catalonia is closet to the airport.

They offer a free shuttle to pick you up for a shopping trip. It’s nice to go for the cigar making part but the selection of things to buy as far as souvenirs sucked! Vendors come to the resort on the Bavaro side one night a week be ready to talk them down! They start off at some super high price but remember dollars are worth more so they are making a profit off us regardless so don’t feel bad talking them down. For example we purchased a nice big painting for $50 the starting price he wanted was 279!! They roll it up for you to get framed once home so think about that when negotiating a price for pictures. Another girl bought a ring for $20 they wanted $60…if you go to walk away believe me they will lower REAL fast to what you want to pay! The best shopping was off the resort, the vendors had way more to choose from. I can’t tell you were we went because I don’t know! One of the employees offered to take us and we give him gas money. This was after seeing and talking to him for several days and we expressed to him our shopping failures. No, the employees do not hassle you to do this in fact they can get in trouble. We had a shuttle drive us to the entrance and we walked to meet him at his car (not far). They make so little don’t think this is a scam they just want to make a few extra bucks. I have a big boyfriend so I wasn’t worried too!

Moving on to food…the only restaurant I would not suggest is the Steak House (may have been a bad night) other than that all the other restaurants were very good!! We made it to all of them but the Japanese which we had no desire to go to after we heard they don’t put on the show like the Japanese restaurants we’re use to but I heard the food is good. Some of the specialty restaurants are small portions, like nice restaurants in the U.S. so we would hit up the buffet after =) No big deal for us! Our food came out fast and it was never cold. Service is A++! When we used room service our order would only take about 20 minutes maybe on adult side it’s faster than some of the reviews I read. The selection for night time is 4 sandwiches made of mostly bread so don’t get excited about that but daytime was decent. With all the restaurants we only ordered one time during the day. We never got sick from anything we ate and believe me we ate a lot! We arrived Thursday, Friday we did have to make a few extra bathroom trips, our stomachs adjusting to something they use different but after that second day 100% normal.

  • Stayed December 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank sunshine01Cary
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Thunder Bay
Level Contributor
43 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 75 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 December 2010

We stayed here in February of this year and I wrote a very positive review and wanted to come back to the rooms with the exclusive swim up pool. Since then the rooms havent changed but the restaurants have slipped a notch.
The Thalasa restaurant for the Royal side used to offer a dish with small lobster tails. That is gone and if you want lobster at any of the restaurants it is a $20 charge. The American restaurant is still good but the Mexican is disappointing with a poor imitation of mexican food and the portions are small and often not hot.
The Italian was a joke as we were told by our waiter that we could have soup or salad but not both. We questioned the manager before we left and he hummed and hawed before lying to us and saying that was not true but we asked another group we know about it and that was what they were told also. The food wasn't very interesting and I would recommend none of the specialty restaurants on that side except the American. The Asian I would not try again after the last trip.
The staff here is a good as before and a problem with our jacuzzi was fixed quickly. My wife had to visit the medical centre and found them great with no gharge for consultation.
This is still a very good hotel for the money but I doubt if we will come back. The room with pool is the best we have ever had but the food choices other than on the Royal side aren't good enough. If you are on a budget you might put up with it as I'm sure it is still better that a lot of choices but when you want more than good value it comes up short.
We are going back to the Excellence this weekend to see if they live up to what we remember.
Bob B.

  • Stayed December 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank bobbrecken
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Rosedale, Canada
Level Contributor
11 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 December 2010

I should preface this review by mentioning that we booked the Catalonia Royal based on :
- The (mostly) great reviews on here.
- The snorkeling from the hotel beach
- Our experience this time last year at another hotel within the chain, the
Catalonia Royal Tulum in Riviera Maya, which we found to be
outstanding for a 4* property.

We spent two weeks at the Catalonia Royal Bavaro from November 21st to December 5th, but unfortunately we had many very windy days and heavy rains some days. No one can predict the weather of course, but it did take away from our beach experience.

Here is our take on the resort as follows:

- The grounds and pool area were beautifully kept. Absolutely no
problems there.

-The rooms were appointed quite nicely and the bed was very
comfortable (we prefer a firm/hard bed although it's not everyone's cup
of tea).

- The staff were very warm and friendly for the most part. Many of
them helped us to improve our very limited Spanish :)

- The food ranged from excellent to good to fair to terrible, depending on
which restaurant we ate in and what we ordered. In Thelassa we had
mostly good meals, but a few dismal ones. We had to send a few
dishes back over the two week period to be heated up as they arrived
lukewarm. The set up with the ordering of eggs from a waiter is not
effectual as the eggs were often cold. I have to say that the steak at the
Rodeo steakhouse was wonderful! Some of the food at the Sea Blue
was good, some was very greasy. I never did see ribs there (as
someone had previously mentioned on the Forum).We are big
Tapas fans, but the food at the Cata Tapas we found to be quite strange.

- The housekeeping in our room was very inconsistant as regards to the
supplies being replenished. Some days we were left without shampoo
or conditioner, other days we did not get any coffee creamers or sugar
and on two different days, our used towels were taken but not replaced
with clean ones so we came back to the room at 6pm to shower before
dinner and voila - not one towel until we phoned for some.

We found the snorkeling to be very poor compared to some other
places we have been to, ie not too many species of marine life, even
though we swam pretty far out. The visability was not great on several
days because of the winds churning the sand from the bottom. I didn't think that the sea grass would bother me, but there was so much of it floating around it kind of creeped me out , also some garbage in the water after the heavy winds. Certainly not a fault of the hotel, the poor guys were busy cleaning the sea grass up from the beach every day, but they just couldn't keep up with it.

None of these issues were earthshattering, but we felt that our overall expectations were not met . Perhaps we had unfairly raised the bar in comparing this hotel to the sister hotel in Mexico in terms of the food and service particularly.

None the less, we had a very relaxing two weeks and spent some time with some fun people that we met over the two weeks!

  • Stayed December 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank judyper
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, Canada
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 December 2010

My husband and I had truly a great vacation. The hotel was very stylish, clean and very accommodating team. They truly aim to please.

Weather was beautiful. You make wake to clouds but the sun will be sure to show! Beaches are not the greatest with the weeds, but they sure try everyday and every hour to clean it up.

Our room was great, maid was fantastic. Yes humidity was high, but we expected it! We did bring Damp rid and all is good. If you require facecloths bring your own, somedays you get some you don't! Mini bar filled and we even got a case of water!

FOOD; We gained some weight! Don't suggest the steakhouse though. Otherwise we ventured and tried everything they had to offer for a l carte. On the last day we did the buffet for dinner and WOW what a selection.

Room service used 2x. Chicken sandwhich was good, but be sure to order your hamburger well done..trust us on this!

If you are looking for QUIET time then this is your place. My husband and I will go again, and I said I would never repeat.

  • Stayed December 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank piecingit2gether
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Toronto, ON
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 December 2010

We were at Hotel Catalonia Royal in October 2010. This was our second visit to the hotel in the last three years. We had a fantastic time! I have travelled all over the world and this is by far one of the best resort experiences I have ever had. Yes, the hotel, the amenities, our room, the food was exceptional but what makes such a resort a success is the hard work of the staff (from the receptionist, waiters, housekeepers, animation team, bar staff, grounds keepers, etc.)! So before I forget: Thank you to all the staff for making it a wonderful experience—especially, Juan de la Cruz (thanks 4 the singing), Jenny, Ruben, Carlos, Ernesto, Dion/Dian (sp?), Alexandra (housekeeper) and Armstrong (and all the others) all of whom worked on the adults side of the resort and mostly at the Thalassa restaurant.

We stayed in the junior suite—which honestly was quite comfortable with all the necessary amenities. We hardly spent much time in our room. The adults side has several places one can eat...we ended up eating at the Thalassa restaurant the most. It is fine dining in the evening and the food is exceptional (the choritzo steak and the 5 chocolate sensation is a must try). We ate breakfast and lunch there as well. We also ate at the tapas restaurant (which was good, the ambience was amazing (very romantic) but be prepared for the smaller portion size). There was also a poolside restaurant closer to the beach (Sea Blue) which was really good. If you are on the adults’ side you can also go to the family resort for food—I enjoyed the buffet on the family resort as well as the Mexican restaurant. We didn’t make it to the other restaurants. Thalassa you spoilt us and thank you!!

Some of the “bad” reviews about this hotel list the musty smell in the room—I don’t know what that is about; we have been here twice and did not smell anything. It is a tropical country so that might explain the alleged musty smell? I don’t have anything negative to add, but just a note of caution--we arrived in the resort in the morning, but check in is not until later in the afternoon. They didn’t have many of the rooms for our group ready until about 2-3pm. So, if you want to hit the beach or the pool asap, make sure carry your bathing suit in your hand luggage and keep your hand luggage light. At least that way you don’t have to wait around a couple of hours to start enjoying your holiday. On the plus side, the reception did keep our suitcases for us until our rooms were ready.

Only had one excursion to “the cave”—the imagine disco about 15 minutes from the hotel. Would I go there again? I’m not sure. For the experience of going to a disco in a cave, it was worth it. But, the music when we went was all techno/trance—not quite my cup of tea. I must add, if you do decide to go to the cave, make sure you are sure of your transportation there and back—on our way there, the organizer/imagine rep was actually trying to put about 15 of us in a minivan—it only had a capacity for 7!!?? We had to insist that he call another cab for us. The club itself is pretty organized and secure (like any nicer clubs in the US or Canada). You are better just taking a cab there and back (cabs are available outside the club). Can I just say that the hotel disco was pretty happening...we were there for 7 nights and for 6/7 nights we were at the hotel disco...the music was contemporary with local music as well. Animation team—thanks for dragging me to the dance floor.!

Finally, we also played the hotels 18 hole and 9 hole golf course several times and we thoroughly enjoyed it for the game and the scenery. Highly recommend the resort....we’ll definitely be going there again!

  • Stayed October 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank minki06
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Thornhill, Canada
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 6 December 2010

Ok so as you all go to the Catalonia royal bavaro, just remember you are going to a third world country. This is my sixth time going to Dominican Republic and i can say very well that i have mixed feelings about this resort. We decided to go to RCB just to get rest from our hectic life. We read reviews and thought that this was a good resort to go to. My fiancé and did relax and we had a great time but by the fifth day were ready to go home!! We missed out chicken, our cooked home food! We couldn't wait to come home. I called my mom while on my trip and told her when we come back you have to make me your chicken veg soup and a nice home cooked meal! Ok lets start this review...

Flight was good...got there at 12:45pm...but check in was only at 3 :(..but we hung around, ate, drank, drank some more and explored the grounds.)

Let’s start with the most important part of the trip: The room; the room was very dull. I don’t know but it smelled like MOLD. Luckily we brought feebrez candle and the room smelt a bit better. The bed was gross!!! It smelt like more mold...It was very hard to sleep but that’s okay we slept on the beach. I actually think that this is one of the most important part in the room. If you don’t sleep well and its hard for you to sleep in public places then your in trouble. We did not have a choice so we dealt with it for 7 nights. Shower as not so enjoyable....again smell of mold.. Overall the room was sorta clean, but if you ask me they don’t know how to clean, but its okay...remember 3rd world country.

Beach was amazing...they raked the beach every morning, always palapas and chairs available...Beach bar good selection of alcohol, there were servers on beach...great!!!

Food was from one to ten...We would give it a 5. If you’re a picky eater and or a foodie like my fiancé and I, you will find something to eat and stick to it until the fifth day where you call your mommy to make you a home cooked meal. There is so much beef a person can take...we had beef for lunch, beef for dinner...they know how to cook it okay actually, for dinner we had a nice piece of meat, but eating every day its not good for your stomach. When i came back i had stomach aces. I went to the doctor and unfortunately I had an ulcer which is so painful!! One piece of advice: Stick to the royal section...the other side not so good. You will be healthier eating on the royal side.

Pool was great, we only stayed at the infinity pool and we reserved the beds, they were great. Good thing we couldn't sleep so we got a bed really early, at 6:00 we were there and some were taken, so i guess a few people woke up early as well.

Spa was very good, we decided to splurge and have a message each and every day at 1:00, and I recommend the hot stone massage!

Service was okay, not much speaks English but you can get by.

Overall it was a good vacation; we got away from real life which was the purpose of the trip. I do not recommend this for a honeymoon tho...honeymooners deserve much better!

  • Stayed November 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank helen19860928
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Catalonia Royal Bavaro

Property: Catalonia Royal Bavaro
Address: Cabeza de Toro, Punta Cana 837, Dominican Republic
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > La Altagracia Province > Punta Cana
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Casino and Gambling Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#15 Family Hotel in Punta Cana
#17 Romantic Hotel in Punta Cana
#27 Casino Hotel in Punta Cana
#39 Top resorts Hotel in Punta Cana
#42 Luxury Hotel in Punta Cana
#42 Spa Hotel in Punta Cana
#42 On the Beach Hotel in Punta Cana
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Catalonia Royal Bavaro 4.5*
Number of rooms: 255
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

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