We landed at Puerto Plata airport on 29th January and, like so many in other reviewers, took the (too) long coach trip to the ferry taking us to Cayo Levantado. Fortunately we broke the coach trip with a half-way stop for a comfort break and a "Presidente" beer...
The short trip by catamaran ferry was made more "interesting" as it was dark by the time we headed off to the island, and the Atlantic waves tossed the little ferry around quite a bit, leaving my wife a slight shade of green by the time we tied-up.
We were taken to our villa by the regular shuttle "bus" (a converted Daihatsu van) and our luggage arrived moments later.
The initial presentation of the room was lovely. A queen-sized bed, ceiling fan, built-in wardrobes, air-con, very large bathroom, etc. It was only after settling in that we realised how 'tired' the villa was. The wardrobes, chest of drawers, bedside cabinets were obviously well-used and drawers and doors were ill-fitting. Electric sockets (particularly the one for the coffee maker) were loose, as was the standard lamp fitting. The bathroom tiling grouting had been repaired (badly) in places and the whirlpool bath a little grubby. After a day's travelling from home we were delighted at the shower, however!
All the staff were, with the exception of the reception staff, more than excellent. Bar staff in the hotel building and at the poolside and beach were great; the restaurant staff were attentive and always smiling and should be highly commended. All the food either presented at the buffet or in the several restaurants was exceptional; being both varied, extremely tasty and very well presented - it was obvious that the kitchen staff were knowledgeable and knew their trade. The evening entertainment was really good and we both went away singing the Bahia Principe song!
One of the major annoyances was the staff attempting to sell membership to the "Privilege Club" who always seemed to be 'in your face' which; despite their apparent interest in your well-being and their lovely smiles; were irritating and we found ourselves trying to avoid them - not something you should be doing when you want to relax.
We didn't go whale watching even though it was the best time of year to see these magnificent creatures as the Atlantic waves were quite large, tossing around the boats we saw leaving for the experience and my wife isn't a sailor!
The beaches were typical of those in the Caribbean and relaxing when on a recliner. Pelicans were frequenting the waters just off the hotel's private beaches which made for interest and great photo opportunities! Relax, get a tan and watch the pelicans...
We'd recommend a "safari" trip into the hinterland of Samana province - even though the transport, a converted open-backed Daihatsu truck, was not the smoothest or back friendly. It was obviously geared-up for European tourist (a lot of Germans and a smattering of Belgian and Danish) however, despite this, it was great to get an idea of the 'real' Dominican Republic, with a visit to a farm co-op, a cigar factory, beautiful waterfall, rubber plantation and, the highlight for us, a visit to a local school with its one teacher and mixed-age class. The pupils, in their bright blue shirts/blouses and with their wonderful smiles, made the whole trip worthwhile.
Take a lot of insect repellent and antihistamine cream!
Try ALL the restaurants at the hotel - they are fabulous!
Visit the public beach craft stalls - very pretty and interesting with great photography potential - but don't buy anything! 'Genuine' obviously doesn't have the same meaning here...
The return was a repeat of the arrival with a long but broken coach trip (with a singularly disinterested/unattentive rep!) and a very early arrival. The tourist exit tax of $20 each meant people were shuffled from one queue to another and this felt totally disorganised and the security staff had little/no English, so there was a lot of gesticulation and arm waving...
Don't expect the 'fast food' outlet at the airport to actually be fast either - totally misnamed - as a simple hot dog took 20 minutes to arrive...
All that being said we had a wonderful time! This review is as honest as we can make it regarding our experience so yes; we have picked out some negatives; but don't go if you are assuming the mistakenly quoted "Five-Star" standard. It isn't; it's Four-Star overall and that largely due to the excellent bar, waiting and kitchen staff; the accommodation would need a lot of attention to bring it up to Five-Star...
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Facilities and services 2 pools 3 Jacuzzis with bar Large sun terrace and gardens with loungers and sun umbrellas Pool and beach towel service BAHIA SPA (additional charge) Sports facilities: gym, 1 tennis court Motorised water sports (additional charge) Store Heliport WiFi access in the lobby and in rooms (free of charge) Main buffet-style restaurant and 3 speciality restaurants 4 Bars Cocktail Lounge Snack-bar Wedding gazebo Rooms 268 rooms including 5 types Superior, Junior Suite, Superior Junior Suite, Deluxe Junior Suite and Beach Villas. Superior Junior Suites, Deluxe Junior Suites and Beach Villas are larger than the Junior Suite and Superior. Room facilities: King size four poster bed Air conditioning Ceiling fan Sitting area with desk Balcony or terrace Fully-equipped marble bathroom with hydromassage bath tub, separate shower, bidet, hair dryer and magnifying mirror Telephone in bathroom Don Pablo Collection amenities Bathrobe and slippers Radio alarm clock with iPod docking station Direct phone line (additional charge for external calls) Flat screen satellite TV Safe Mini-bar with alcoholic drinks Wifi (free of charge) Coffee-making facilities Ironing set 24 hour room service Evening downturn service Outdoor Jacuzzi (Deluxe Junior Suites) Butler service Pillow menu Aroma menu Beach Villas: Seafront location with outdoor Jacuzzi, pillow menu available on request, baggage unpacking and ironing service, laundry service (optional) Other services Medical and pharmacy service (additional charge for both) Stores in the hotel Heliport and private boat (available on request for an additional charge) Mainland reception and transfer by boat (included in the booking fee) Specialised service for organising weddings, events and anniversaries. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Gran Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado Hotel
- Cayo Levantado Samana
- Cayo Levantado Dominican Republic
- Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado
- Cayo Levantado Hotel Samana
- Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado Don Pablo Collection Dominican Republic/Samana