TLDR of my review:
Stayed at beginning of June, family of 3 from UK staying in a junior suite. Weather was excellent.
Hotel is absolutely stunning, the grounds itself is worth a walk round for the wildlife and scenery.
Pool and beach area is very good and well maintained.
Rooms are dated (stayed in junior suite) but absolutely nothing to complain about.
Entertainment is very good. Staff are great and well worth watching the evening shows.
Food is good, don't expect anything exceptional from the buffet but you will eat well. A la carte restaurants are worth while to break up the days at the buffet. Overall I'd give the whole holiday an 8/10.
I feel the hotel deserves a full review as it does have its flaws but shouldn’t put anyone off staying here, I tried to change the hotel beforehand through Tui because of the negative reviews, decided against the extra cost and glad I did. I’ve split into sections to make it easier to read.
Resort + facilities 9/10
Excellent, the pool is very big with a pool bar, all the bars are nice and always someone serving.
Hotel grounds are stunning, with lots of wildlife.
People reserve sunbeds! Theres signs saying they shouldn't, we got into confrontation with someone who said we "Stole their umbrella" if that's a thing. Also witnessed a few others who got into confrontation. If you want an umbrella by the pool or the beach. Get there before 10am.
As opposed to some reviews we found the staff very helpful, always received drink at meal times. Sometimes took abit longer when busy, didn't get impression they were working for a tip. Some people may have had bad experiences with one staff member but it's not fair to bring the whole team down.
Food & drink 6/10
Good variety, expect standard buffet food. Fresh meat and fish and fresh pasta which is a plus.
There are birds at meal times...it is annoying. They fly around tables looking for leftovers, pooing on seats, myself and daughter sat in it twice! Check the seats before you sit! In the main buffet, the food is enclosed through a set of doors, but the beach area buffet, where they serve breakfast and lunch, the food is exposed so birds eat from the buffet, walking over the food, pecking at it and dropping it back, my wife tried to stop someone eating some fruit that a bird had in its mouth and dropped back in the buffet but with the language barrier they didn't understand. I would avoid eating at the beach restaurant 'La Palapa'.
Also, to the hotel, this would breach many food hygiene laws across the world, expect this to shock people as its not normal practice. A simple thing like covering the food could rectify this.
Another annoying misdemeanor was the soft drinks being flat. The hotel use big bottles of soft drinks and use it multiple times so the drink goes flat...it needs to be given in smaller cans, admittedly not a massive thing but something I feel the hotel should address as it got really annoying drinking flat lemonade for 2 weeks.
Alcohol was fine. Cocktails were quite sweet but remember you don't have to drink them! So I didn't, I drank the rum and beer and all was good.
Stayed in standard junior suite. Very good size, huge bath and shower. Comments about it being tired are correct. Needs updating with fresh paint, wall sockets abit loose etc. It looks like they've spent the money on the privilege suites and left the standard rooms.
Overall, it's not a big deal, it's very liveable, we didn't stay in there much but were very comfortable when we did.
Daily activities, usual Archery, mini golf etc. In the day, I wasn't interested but something to do if people get bored. I read a previous review of someone not seeing the entertainment staff...they must have buried their head in the sand, the entertainment team were great, always busy throughout the day, right up until the evening shows. Usually did something around 4pm by the pool/beach area.
Evening shows were very good and entertaining, we stayed for 2 weeks, they repeated the same shows the week after but still watchable nonetheless. Special mention to Ricky and Fernando for being full of life from morning to night!
Grounds are stunning, beach is nice, some dark seaweed in the sea but still very nice water.
I am very glad we stayed here, the hotel isn't perfect but it didn't ruin the amazing time we had. There are many many pros and only small negative points. Well worth a visit.
Extra Tips for staying
USD seems to be main currency used don't worry about buying Dominican pesos
Don't eat in beach side restaurant - hygiene
Resort shops are ridiculously overpriced
Don't get hustled by market sellers. Tried charging over $100 for a cheap ring, necklace and bracelet. Paid $10 in the end as the wife wanted something to take back from the holiday, even this was overpriced as it broke after 2 days. Just say no thank you and they leave you alone.
Be sure to check the beach area by the pool around 12pm/12.30pm. There's coconut and ice cream parties, BBQs, Salsa, Paella. You don't want to miss.
Nice hotel but unpleasant and lazy staff
Jun 24, 2022
We came here for our honeymoon, the hotel was informed but no special attention to our room was given until we made a complaint. We also experienced a lack of towels in our room on a daily basis forcing us to call the reception on several occasions. Our room wasn’ t fully cleaned and there was a day, they didn’t come at all. We had to raise a complaint and when the lady came. She only changed the sheet of 1 bed and did not clean the bathroom.
The entertainment is almost inexistante. In a week, we only saw their team once and it was at 4 pm for a zumba class.
The reception service at the check in was not good too. They did not explain us the direction to our room our room. Our bags were not picked up by any concierge to our room. We had to find the location ourselves as well as discover the various services and locations of the hotel’s services.
It’s a shame that the human services are extremely poor because the location is nice. The beach is nice. The food is good and their garden is lovely.
My recommendation would be to end the discrimination that the hotel does in relation to their guests. Having people that are basics, privilege, maravilhoso or exclusive is stupid and only led the employees of the hotel to be nice to who is exclusive and look to the others like sh...
I paid to be a privilege but felt like I did not pay them enough to hear a Hello or a smile. Anyway, 1 thing is certain, I do not recommend this hotel to anyone. Good customer service is key in any business! Tourism is not an exception.
I'm warning you don't go here
Jun 20, 2022
This place smells like sewer...the rooms are small and smells the water worked half the time couldn't flush toilet for a whole day....the food is terrible not to mention there are birds eating at both buffets and flying around all day eating the nasty food they offer every day and it doesn't change.....if you want to hear any other music you can forget about that....they do not cater to other genres of music....it's Latin all day every day....I would not go back for free....I hated it...the worst of the worst it's really a motel.....
2 weeks in paradise
(Coventry, United Kingdom)
Jun 19, 2022
Prior to staying at this hotel I felt a little worried as the reviews weren't uplifting & positive! .... but I thought this place was great! Most of the staff were friendly & said hola etc their English isn't great but neithers my Spanish.
We upgraded to privileged, the room was light & airy with great air conditioning, the bed was comfy & the shower was huge. We were in room 602 which was close to the beach, pool & beach buffet (great location) the lady that cleaned our room was called Andrea & she did a great job ?? our fridge was fully stocked everyday & we had a whole case of water with fresh towels also.
Now the negatives ???????
The birds in the restaurant, they constantly eat the fruit & cheese & poo all over the chairs. I think the staff have just given up trying to stop them as they just looked on.
The food is pretty repetitive in the buffet I'm not a fussy eater so never starved but was just pretty meh. The steak house was the worst! I'm not expecting top qualify meat as its an all inclusive but the ribs my hubby had were just bone there was nothing on them! ?? we went twice & the steaks were just all fat ?? the tapas restaurant was really nice though as was the japanese restaurant.
Not the hotels fault but we got so many mosquito bites mostly on our legs & ankles. We had a plug in and spary but didn't work.
Finally would I stay here again? Absolutely ?? its a beautiful resort.
Stunning 2 weeks in the sun!
(Portsmouth, United Kingdom)
Jun 18, 2022
Myself and my partner stayed at Catalonia Bavaro for 2 weeks from the 1st June 2022. We were a little nervous following the mix of reviews but had booked pre-covid and moved the trip 4 times so we thought we'd stick with our initial choice and see how it went. I'm going to split the review into sections so i can cover all areas of our stay (sorry in advance for the long review, but we want to put any similar nervous guests like us at ease).
Travel and Transfers:
Following from a 9 hour flight from Gatwick, we couldn't wait to get to the hotel and wash of the travel and get into some shorts! The coach transfer to the hotel was quick and efficient and we were the first stop, so only about 20 mins from airport to hotel - a massive plus! We've previously had 2 hour + transfers from airport to hotel and it was not fun! Transfer from the hotel back to the airport was also a breeze, we were the last to be collected so it was a direct route.
Quick and easy, the reception was quiet on our arrival so we didn't have to queue. We were offered an upgrade to a Privilege or Honeymoon suite but we declined as we wanted to try the Junior Suite before paying any extra (Privilege was $30 extra per night, Honeymoon $45). We were then taken to our room via golf buggy and our bags were carried up to our 1st floor room (bless our poor bell boy because they were HEAVY). No issues with room keys not working etc throughout our stay, all easy peasy. I would like to mention that throughout our stay when walking through the lobby we did see the reception busier at times with small queues for the desk, but as the process of checking in was so easy i can't imagine you'd be waiting long - perfect opportunity to sip on your welcome drink and admire the lobby.
Previous reviews have said the rooms are tired looking - i would agree with that. However, everything was clean and tidy, which is what mattered to us. The bed was super comfy and HUGE, there was more than enough drawer and wardrobe storage and the bathroom was great too! Only issues were that the shower cubicle was a little small, but we are also not tiny people - and our coffee machine didn't work (not really an issue when you can get coffee pretty much anywhere on the property). We made use of the safe for our valuables (which we would have done anywhere), and had no issues with anything being moved or going missing. Housekeeping was great - she would arrive around 9am, but most of the time we were up and out by then, if not we put our do not disturb sign on the door.
Absolutely stunning grounds and gardens - we loved it! I deliberately pick hotels that have a lot of nature and greenery and Catalonia did not disappoint. Lots of birds and animals wandering around the streams/in the trees, and lots of baby chicks too which was great. The gardeners do an excellent job of keeping everything looking perfect, it was a pleasure to watch! The rest of the hotel was clean, functional and very pretty. Always some cleaning going on, or making sure the floors are dry and safe to walk on. Everything was easy to find, we never got lost and it was always a pleasure to wander round the grounds to get to where we were going. The beach was beautiful, and the staff made a concerted effort to clear the seaweed every day (at the end of the day, it is a beach, there will be seaweed). Pool areas were kept nice and clean, the water was lovely!
Previous reviews have mentioned rude or ignorant staff members - we completely disagree! Everyone was so lovely, we have absolutely no complaints. Any staff member we walked past said hello to us, even the maintenance guys and the gardeners. Service in the bars, restaurants and buffets were great too, everyone was happy to help! Our spanish is not great, but we tried to speak spanish as much as possible, and if not there was always a halfway point and we would figure it out! I think it's ignorant of guests to believe all staff members will be fluent in English when that isn't their native language - we also heard staff speaking French, German, Italian etc so they really are keen to make all guests feel welcome! For a hotel this size, it's unusual to be remembered by staff - but we were remembered by multiple staff members which was a nice touch!
To start off, i'd like to mention that my partner and I are not fussy eaters - we are happy to try new things. We were never disappointed by either of the buffet restaurants, there was always a good selection of options. As with all inclusive buffets all over the world, they have a core selection that remains mostly the same so they can please everyone, and then they have other options that were changed daily. The main buffet near the lobby had the largest selection, whereas the beach buffet was smaller (still good though). The a-la-carte restaurants were easy to book on the hotel's website, we did all 4 of them twice during our stay. I would mention here that the service in the a-la-cartes was a bit hit or miss, only because it seemed disjointed and a bit unorganised - but the food was good and we were never in a rush so it didn't really matter to us. The staff were ALWAYS friendly, and they not only work at the a-la carte restaurants but also in other areas of the hotel (so table service is not their main gig). Drinks ARE NOT WATERED DOWN - they will free pour you as much alcohol as you want, they are not stingy in the slightest. Even if a drink is not on the menu, most of the time they will know how to make it, so just ask! We did see some people tipping with every drink, but we didn't do this and still had great service. We especially loved the curacao bar in the evenings after dinner as it was a super chilled vibe with great drinks.
Shops/Extra things to purchase:
Great selection of gift items in the shops, please note they don't take cash, only card payments or charging to your room (you can pay cash at the end of your stay). Also clothes shops, snacks, swimwear etc as well as a pharmacy. Pretty much anything you need, if you've forgotten something or run out - it's all there. There are market stalls that set up a couple times a week selling gift items, i agree with previous reviews that they can be pushy, but as long as your a polite and firm with them they will leave you alone. (if they say hello, say Hi, no thank you - they are trying to earn a living and will give you a good deal if you're happy to barter, we just weren't really interested).
Tipping is a big thing in Dominican republic, quite similar to America but it is not expected. We knew this before hand and made sure to bring small bills (dollars) so that we could tip accordingly. We found it wasn't necessary to tip every staff member every time we ordered something etc. We tipped our housekeeper $20 in total over our 2 week stay, at the a-la-carte restaurants we tipped $5 per evening, and then smaller $1 bills for other services like our drivers to our day trips etc. It's totally up to you whether you tip or not, but we thought it was justified and well deserved.
Last bits - booking experiences was super easy! We had no issues and were always picked up on time. We did Coco Bongo on a Saturday (very busy so be prepared), A half day boat trip called Wild on Punta Cana, and a half day Monkey Land experience.
We would definitely go back, we had a great time and looking forward to seeing the result of the work they are doing on the rooms and the grounds (we saw a few upgrades in process while we were there).
Thanks for a perfect holiday!