Great food, friendly staff, but bad drinks service
Feb 03, 2023
We went to Bahia Principe Grand El Portillo for a week as a family including two sets of grand parents and our four year old. It was a fantastic resort and the beach absolutely blew us away. The sand was soft and well maintained but the best part was the coral reefs just off the shore that were teeming with fish! You could literally walk a few meters into shoulder-deep water and see colorful tropical fish without paying for any snorkeling tours. Indeed, many other tourists came prepared with their own snorkeling gear - there was a ton of people enjoying the beauty of the reefs, adults and kids alike.
The food was phenomenal at the buffets - loads of choice and the snack bar was way above what we expected to find at a typical snack bar - it was basically a mini buffet with full on meals which was amazing for a little kid who gets hungry at random times of the day. The a-la-carte restaurants were alright, nothing too interesting or special but still worth a visit.
The staff were incredibly friendly and even though few spoke English outside of the front desk staff they really did try hard to tend to your needs. In particular, the ladies who ran kids activities were so nice and so sweet, my son really enjoyed playing in the sand the sand and at the "Bahia Scouts" kids center. The only exception to this is the drinks service - the staff will happily come take your order as you sit and enjoy the patios but literally out of 10+ times they took an order from me for something as simple as a glass of wine they never actually came back with the drink. I'm not talking about it coming slowly, I'm saying after 45+ minutes they still didn't even check up again and even try to make up for forgetting. Moreover, in the evening time there's basically only the one bar operating as the beach and pool bars close so with the amount of people there and the tiny bar, you guessed it - you're waiting more than 20 minutes sometimes just to fill up a small cup of beer. This is not limited to alcohol - at the breakfast buffet, getting a cup of coffee was a challenge. This was honestly one of the most annoying things about our stay and while it is not a deal breaker it would definitely make me think twice about visiting again. I generally don't want to stand in lines for significant portions of my vacation.
The rooms were pretty "meh" - adequate but nothing special. We had a shower faucet that sprayed sideways when we got our room that they quickly fixed after we complained. Unlike some other resorts I've been to, there's not much to see if you try to walk somewhere from the resort. The closest town, Las Terrenas, was almost an entire hour's walk down the beach with not much to see there.
A few other things that are worth mentioning as well:
* There are a few mosquitos but not many; only a few bites out of a whole week there
* There are two ATMs at the resort but both of them stole my money - they withdrew the funds but never gave me any cash. One refunded it quickly, but for the second time I had to launch a full investigation via my bank that is going to take 10-15 business days to recover the funds (hopefully). DO NOT USE THE ATMs; and even the ones outside the resort I wouldn't trust. You're much better off bringing in American dollars that you exchange in Canada.
* There are some incredibly friendly stray dogs that occasionally wander into the resort area; we along with many others that we saw found them very endearing. They are super sweet and do not cause any trouble at all, but if you're afraid of dogs you might want to make note of that. Many people including us petted them and really enjoyed their company. They will quickly leave you alone if you tell them to "shoo" and wave away. There are also cats around the resort, they are also super sweet although they don't really like to be petted - me and my wife both got scratched when we tried to.
* Wifi in the lobby and common areas was fairly good but in the villas it was very, very spotty to the point of not working at all for long stretches of time
Fantastic beach, great food - don’t use the dive shop!
Feb 03, 2023
We have mixed reviews for the resort.
This was a family trip, parents and our adult children and their spouses, we asked at booking to be in the same block/villa. We called, we sent other emails, called again, tried the useless app…. When we registered at the hotel the rooms were 2 in 23 and one in 2. I spoke to the manager, we’re fully booked blah blah blah. Management put the request into ‘the book’ and said one couple could move in 2 days the other in 3… not ideal. Two days in our son’s room has a foul smelling leaky roof and he went to the front desk and told them about the leak and the promised room. No, put a garbage pail under the leak was what they were told. Overnight the leak turned into a waterfall at 2:30 am and they video taped it. I went to the front desk, reminded management of the room change promise. Management agreed particularly when the video was played for everyone waiting at the desk.
Overall, the resort is good, the food is great and the staff…some are fantastic others are not as much.
Our room was a bit dated but it was clean and it was cleaned daily. The mattress was a bit hard and indented and the toilet didn’t flush well but everything worked and we slept. Oh, and the patio door safety lock didn’t work but the door handle locked.
Now, the dive shop…don’t use it. We are experienced divers and this is not good diving and there were two emergencies that should not have happened. One tank was not changed resulting in the second dive one of the divers went down without air and the second the rubber on the mouth piece disintegrated and ripped apart. Yes, it is the diver’s responsibility to ensure they have air but the conditions at surface were so bad that was missed. The shop used a small boat not set up for divers so gear between seats on the floor, boat was overloaded with 10 people plus gear and the seas were BAD. 5 of 6 of us were seasick…we should not have been on the water in that boat in those conditions. There’s a shop in Las Terrenas with a dive boat…go there.
Then there was the Air Canada rep…I don’t remember the name of the gentleman on check in whom I spoke to next day to arrange not to take the overcrowded bus back to the airport but he did nothing. I checked day before or scheduled return and Roberto he knew nothing…ok, he also was not interested in doing anything other than going home in 40 minutes…grrr…Mary Carmen at SolTours was able to arrange things for me though…she rocked.
Ok, so this sounds negative but honestly it was a good trip. I feel staff and the resort are just rusty and maybe not quite spooled up to full capacity. The beach itself is AMAZING, the drinks are good, snorkeling on shore awesome and food great.
Good but not very good.
Feb 01, 2023
Middle size hotel with very nice beach , excellent garden nice restaurants but poor old rooms and bathrooms which need solid refreshment.
Transfer from airport in Puerto Plata to the hotel was 3,5 hours with small bus 12 people. Way back took us 4 hours. I think it was worth it since beach was great and water crystal clear with wild nature on both sides of the hotel.
Staff- especially in the morning at the breakfast restaurant was completely disorganized and slow . Cappuccino waiting time was about 15-20 minutes.
I couldn’t imagine how a lot of people can walk or stand and look in the sky while guests were waiting and waiting for water, coffe etc. only few of staff members made effort others were walking slowly from one place to another. It was strange and I never experienced something like that. Of course we were kind and tried to understand local specificity but I did not experienced such situations beeing in other hotels including one in Punta Cana few years ago. You can accept it being on holidays so we got used to it.
The most annoying was morning competition to get sunbed and extremely crowded beach. We had the same situation in Turkey but nowhere else. Strange that at 7 am it was difficult to get one.
Anyway, we made also few trips but the most exciting one was with local guy who took us (4 people) by his car to see amazing beaches without tourists, casa tipica with local organic products and lunch in local restaurant with natural simple food. We liked it a lot! I can give contact to this guy if anyone is interested.
Generally we were happy but I will not come back to this hotel since it did not steal my heart.
Disappointed for the price and a supposed 5 stars resort!
Jan 31, 2023
We were there during Christmas time. Supposed to be a 5 stars...3 maximum for us! The beach is beautiful and you could do snorkeling and see many fish. If you don't wake up early, you won't get a chair at the beach neither at the pool. Reserved restaurant are good, different from buffet but just ok. Miss regularly food in the buffet (potatoes, bacon...) Alcool is cheap, wine come from a carafe because the wine is from a 20L barrels. We are not fancy on wine but this one is awful! Wine from a bottle in the reserved restaurants and sometimes refill with the other wine! It taste! Almost never wine bottle at the bar. Ask chips and 1 day on 2 none. Rooms are ok but pillows are old and uncomfortable at all! Mattress is not comfortable too.We won't go back!
Amazing time with family and friends !
Jan 30, 2023
This was our second visit to this resort. This time we were few families with kid 5,6,7 y.o.
We loved this place ! As always, there are things that could use some upgrades and improvements but overall we had a great time. Beaches in Samana are much better than inPunta Cana or Cabarete. Most of the time water is calm and turquise. This year we had a junior superoir suit in the upgraded block 26. The room is slightly bigger than loder blocks and might have a better soundproofing. Mini mar is restocked everyday with 2 sodas, 2 beers and 2 water bottles. Maids were on point and always had our rooms refreshed. Most of the stuff is amazing. We met Marco at the front desk and Jan Carlos at the sport bar. These two hermanos are the best at what they do !! Big thanks to Marco for helping with the room, cake and other accommodations. Jan Carlos makes the best Sangria Blanco, try it !
The vacation is what you make of it. We enjoyed our 2 weeks at the bahia principe el portillo.
Also, we still sing the song: Ciao, ciao, ciao, bye bye bye. For those in the know :))