Nice resort - looking for something outside of Punta Cana and La Romana
(St. Catharines, Canada)
Mar 01, 2024
My wife and I recently (Feb 15 - 22/24) returned from the El Portillo in Samana, D.R.. through Air Transat Vacations. The resort is a 45 minute drive from the Samana airport. The resort is clean, well kept, with spacious rooms. It is interesting that the lobby, most restaurants and main pool are very close to the beach. As such, I was not able to identify any units that one could consider "ocean view" or "beach side". That's probably why the only rooms available on the Air Transat website are "Garden View". Most units are a short walk to the buffet and lobby. Lounge hogs are everywhere, so be prepared to get your towels on a pool or beach lounge early in the morning - despite the fact that there are signs everywhere that reserving lounges is not allowed!. While we downloaded the Bahia app onto our devices before we left, there was no need. Print a map of the property from the Internet before you go and that's all you'll need to find your way around for the first day or so. There's an Activities Board near the lobby to tell you what is happening each day and what the evening entertainment is. Getting into the Internet is a chore - weak reception at the beach, frequently dropped connections which became more erratic as the week went on. Stay cats roam the grounds and were enjoyed by many feline lovers - probably why there are no native geckos around. We had a problem with our "credit card style" room keys. The front desk staff, who were always courteous, friendly and wanting to go the extra mile, looked after re-keying. The problem continued, but it may have had something to do with interacting with our cell phones. If you go to this resort, you should know that the electric receptacles are not like the "duplex" receptacles in North America. They are standard 110V, but there is only one outlet per receptacle, not two. And there are only 3 in the living area - 1 by the coffee maker, 1 at one side of the bed and one at the floor level for a lamp - really hard to charge 2 cell phones, a tablet and maybe some hearing aides if you're a senior!
Recommendation - go to your local hardware store and buy a a couple of triple outlet adaptors before you go. If you like to have a coffee on the balcony before sunrise, take some insect repellant. There's little flying, biting insects, but only at that time of day. We might call them mosquitos, but they are much, much smaller that those in Canada. Google Translate is invaluable. We used it continually to leave notes for the housekeeping person when we had a very minor water drip. And it came in handy at the Brazilian Restaurant when the hostess was trying to explain how their system worked there - past my phone to her, she spoke Spanish and it immediately translated into English. Just remember to download the Spanish dictionary before you go so you can use it off-line.
There are 5 a la carte restaurants, but if you are there for 7 days, you only get 3 choices. If you want to do more, you have to pay. I have not seen this policy adhered to in a very long time. The evening entertainment is held on an outdoor stage near the entrance of the property. While we have certainly seen better quality of entertainment at other resorts in the DR, I think a contributing factor was the very small size of the stage.
You can walk the beach for a great distance, but as you are leaving the property, a guard will have you sign out and then sign back in on your return - keeping you safe!? There are the usual locals selling carvings, shells etc, but were no bother at all. As the waves and tide roll in, there is a natural reef barrier to help break the waves. Snorkeling is good there - even saw a stingray. The sargassum seaweed, found at a lot of resorts near Punta Cana, did not seem a problem while were there. The main pool is right at the beach and buffet area. However, if you want something a bit more quiet, there is a small "quiet pool" closer to the entrance.
The only super negative comment I have AND IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE EL PORTILLO, is the totally unacceptable tip money aggressiveness of the Sanana airport porters. If I could fined the airport on Trip Advisor, I would give it a 0/5. Failing that - be prepared for them to accost you to pay up just for lifting you bag from the curb to the driveway. We experienced this behaviour both arriving and departing - never, ever seen anything like it.
All in all, it was a good resort and a good week.
(Kirkland Lake, Canada)
Feb 27, 2024
We went in a group of 6 (2 couples, 2 friends) and we loved the resort! The entertainment staff are above and beyond always making sure there is entertainment on multiple spots of the resort. The rooms were great and always kept clean and no issues with air conditioning at all in the rooms. The buffet always had an exceptional amount of variety food wise and had an amazing bread bar but the restaurants you need reservations for is definitely where it is at! The food at the restaurants was amazing and more like home. All the staff in general were extremely nice and go out of there way to check in and make sure you are having a great time. The club on resort was okay but was fairly dead when we went but always had the tunes rocking as long as you are there. The evening entertainment was amazing with something different happening every night, my personal favorite was the 60's,70's 80's show! The beach is where most people prefer to hangout and tan, if you are looking for a resort right on the ocean that doesn't have large waves and is more like a beach this is definitely your resort!
Great place Great staff !!
Feb 25, 2024
Great place & great people. Nothing negative to say on this place besides that the beds are somewhat hard. Food is very good and it is clean everywhere. Diomedes at the Portofino restaurant gave us an excellent show for my wife's birthday, Raphael at the French restaurant is always there to make you feel at home, Yan Carlos at the sports bar is very friendly and Yoerica at the relax pool has the nicest smile of the island. Finally the manager of the place, Aridenis is the kind of manager every company would like to have in their business, he leads by example always making us feel as if we were the most important people of the place. It is a great place and the staff really makes you want to return. I highly recommend the Bahia Principe Grand El Portillo to everyone !!
Fantastic beach; good gourmet restaurants; average buffet ; Very good general service except for slow service at buffet
Feb 23, 2024
Very good service in general (reception, maids services, bar service at the small pool in particular, repairs, staff in general)
Quality of buffet is average and mediocre in its presentation. The service at the table is too slow because I think there insufficient staff to set the tables or serve water or coffee. We adapted by serving ourselves at the machines or getting cutlery directly from staff
The food in specialized restaurants was good to very good except in the sea food restaurant where I ordered Zarzuela which came with sardines mixed with delicate sea food. The taste of the sardines overwhelmed the taste of the whole dish. This is a no no. It is better to serve sardines separately as a dish
The beach is fantastic because the water was calm and swimmable but over all it is possible to access kilometres of fine sand beaches with few people in it. However one should be careful with the coral because it can hurt your feet badly.
Las Terrenas is the closest town to visit to buy local goods. Not a pretty town. The sidewalks are in a very bad shape. The air is polluted with the gas fumes from the zooming motorcyles and the streets are dangerous to cross. Trucks are parked on the sidewalks so pedestrians must walk on the streets which is dangerous . This is my 2nd visit of this town in 15 years. It is the last one for sure
Needs some help from senior management
Feb 21, 2024
Had an ok time. Food service was slow and the drinks came even slower. Great spot and has potential. Need more service people. Need for management to get workers more hep as they are working hard but to few. Only one bar in the evening servicing huge area by the lobby and pool area! Crazy wait times for a drink.
Grounds are beautiful and the beach is amazing. Room was clean and well kept. We had a room by the gym and tennis courts. Little help and it will be much better.