12 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
A Big Disappointment
"We returned to the Catalonia Royal Bavaro Resort after a wonderful visit two years ago. We were very disappointed this time.
THE BEACH: There is still a large sandy area with plenty of beach chairs, palm trees and palapas, but the beach itself has pretty much disappeared. And because of the deposits of seaweed, walks along the beach are unpleasant if not impossible. (There were constant efforts by staff to rake up the seaweed, but it was a losing battle.) I also came home with fifty to sixty sand flea bites (larger than mosquito bites, and intensely itchy) which probably came from going down to the beach on a few days to see the sunrise. Take a supply of Benadryl and cortisone cream.
THE ROOM: The unit (in Villa 38) was spacious and comfortable with a few problems: There was no door to the bathroom area (except to the water closet) so couples who like to give each other privacy are out of luck. The air conditioning was defective: it was either on or off, and there was no way to adjust the temperature; left on, the room was frigid. We got in the habit of leaving it on when we were out of the room, turning it off when we got back, sleeping under an extra blanket, and using the ceiling fan when the room warmed up. The air conditioning did nothing to reduce the humidity in the room, but at least our room had none of the mold and little of the mustiness that other people complained about. Periodically there was no hot water in the shower, usually in the late afternoon, so we couldnât shower before dinner. WiFi access was better than two years ago, but still unreliable; by far the best reception was on the beach.
THE MEALS: These were the biggest disappointment. In our first visit we had one mediocre meal; all the rest were excellent. This time meals were wildly inconsistent. Some were excellent; others, not so much. We had probably the worst restaurant meal we have ever had at the new Yuca (Caribbean cuisine) restaurant. One night we had an excellent meal at the Tapas restaurant (its menu is no longer tapas, but we never figured out what it has become); but when we went back a few nights later the meal was awful: only one of the dishes we ordered arrived hot; one early serving we sent back to be re-heated but it returned as tepid as it was at first so we gave up on the others; the waiter failed to bring one dish until he was reminded and it came after everyone else at the table had finished. Breakfasts provided a wide choice of items, but nothing except freshly cooked eggs was more than room-temperature. At least we were never served a burger with two ants crawling out of the bun, as was another guest we spoke to.
THE STAFF: They are friendly and eager to please, but lack of English is now a real problem as it never was in our first visit. Often wait-staff were unable to understand our questions about menus that were sometimes very confusing. Orders were sometimes incorrect, or servings were missing. We repeatedly asked for a blanket and beach towels from the housekeeping staff, and repeatedly were given clean sheets and bath towels which should not be taken out of the room. Once, when we had a problem in the room, calls to Housekeeping, the Front Desk and the Concierge all went unanswered.
THE WORST: When we arrived we were greeted by a man who identified himself as a concierge. He said that he wanted to meet with us the next day to tour the resort and to meet the manager who wanted to welcome us back as returning guests, give us a gift, and show us some upgraded rooms. He promised it would take no more than an hour and we could have breakfast together to kill two birds with one stone. We agreed. Everything he said was a lie. The next morning this âconciergeâ took us to a sales office and turned over to a salesman for the EXCLUSIVE TRAVEL CLUB. He was quite amiable and we chatted over breakfast and then answered some questions about our past trips and future travel plans. By now an hour had passed. We kept reminding him that our time was valuable and pushing for âbottom lineâ information but all he would tell us was that there was a $99.00 annual fee to get access to a web site that would give us great discounts at thousands of hotels. After a tour of three units at the resort that are reserved for Travel Club members (not impressive, for various reasons), we were turned over to the salesmanâs manager who finally got to the bottom line â in a crowded room with music blaring and eight or ten sales pitches going on around us; drinks had been offered to us repeatedly. Membership of the cheapest kind would cost about $12,000 US for ten years plus the annual membership fee; half of the $12,000 was due on signing. We were offered various discounts but only if we signed up then and there. All of the details were scrawled on a notepad which I had to read upside down, and details came and went because of the possible discounts he offered. We asked to see a copy of the contract that we could take away and study, and he refused; he said no one ever did that. We could see a contract only when we had agreed to sign, and weâd have to read it then and there with the help of a âlegal advisor;â we found out later, online, that the contract is twenty-five pages long. As we expressed our impatience and irritation at having our time wasted because we had been lied to or misled and kept in the dark, the manager became more and more testy.
After losing three hours and having been lied to repeatedly, we walked out. The gift we received for giving up, essentially, half a day of our vacation, was a baseball cap, a T-shirt and a tote bag, all advertising the travel club.
Once we were free and could Google the travel club we found that many people who signed up were less than happy. A common complaint was that people who had buyerâs remorse, even within the three days after signing that we were told weâd have to cancel, had to pay a cancellation fee of about a thousand dollars, something we were never told. Others were unable to get access to the web page and so couldnât, promptly, judge the value of their purchase. Others complained about the sales tactics. I donât think I found a single happy customer.
For the rest of the week we were constantly reminded of all this unpleasantness by white-uniformed shills in the reception area trolling for new victims; another Exclusive Travel Club office across from our villa; placards on a table in each restaurant reserving it for Club members (though we couldnât see that the one couple we saw sitting at such a table received any service that we didnât); signs outside some of the units reserving them for Club members; the umbrella we obtained on a rainy day carried the Clubâs logo; etc. Once we learned the signs, we were constantly reminded of a very unpleasant experience and that we were second-class, non-VIP guests.
In conclusion, we will not return to the Catalonia Royal Bavaro Resort, nor will we recommend it to our friends, as we have in the past.
- Travel date: Sun 22nd of February 2015
"We had the absolute perfect honeymoon! We did not do the honeymoon upgrade, but we still felt important. When you enter the room, there are fresh hibiscus flowers laid around the tub and in the bathroom. It was so beautiful. The interior decoration was lovely! There was a canopy bed, and it was very comfortable. We kept our stuff in the safe in the room, but honestly, I didn't feel the least bit worried once we were settled in. The staff is friendly. Some speak excellent English, and some don't, but everyone was incredibly nice and welcoming. We stayed in villa 4404, and we did have to walk to the beach. However, we had a pool with swim up bar right outside our room. We were also close to the lobby, where the piano bar (which also has cappuccinos if you are like us and love coffee style drinks!) and restaurant were. The restaurant in the lobby has an excellent breakfast buffet! Soooo yummy! We went to the restaurant by the beach often; It was also good! The third restaurant on the adults only side was excellent as well. To be recognized as the "adults only" guests, they do give you a gold bracelet. It really isn't a big deal if you are worried about tan lines or how it looks in pictures (i saw someone previously complain about it on here). I simply put a big bracelet over it when we took pictures, and when we laid out in the sun, I moved it every so often to prevent tan lines. ...As far as the beach goes, there was ample seating. There is a bar on the beach, and there is also a smoothie bar. You will see a hut under which you can get a massage (schedule it). It is worth it! The water was gorgeous, and we saw tropical fish, stingrays, sea snakes, and lobsters right out in the water by the shore. There is an old pipe type of assembly in the water that the marine life has made a home out of. Make sure you take your own snorkeling gear! We did, and we spent most of the days snorkeling without worrying about returning it. I did see someone get snorkeling gear, and I dont know if they paid to own the set or use the set, I only know they handed them $20 for it. I do know that the kayaks were free. We took one and it was so fun! As far as the sand, they have people who rake up the seaweed, so it's not a problem (i also saw a complaint about this prior to our trip; it was not an issue at all)....If you decide to go to the regular side (family side) of the resort, the mexican restaurant is good. We tried the buffet and were not big fans personally, but it might be good for kids. There are shops on that side also. There is a place that makes crepes at night; Do yourself a favor and go get some! Things to know for ALL restaurants: Men need closed toe'd shoes and pants at dinner. A polo shirt is fine. Women can wear nice sandals. ...Also, we were told to be weary of using debit or credit cards OFF the resort bc people off the resort will try to double charge; on the resort is safe. Also, know that you will be offered "mama wanna" (I can't spell it). It is NOT the drug marijuana; it is a local drink of Punta Cana. ....We had an amazing honeymoon and didn't want to leave! I highly recommend this. We are already planning our one year anniversary at the resort! Have fun and ignore the negative comments. The whole time we were there we were amazed at how "off" the bad reviews were! Enjoy! "
- Travel date: Fri 28th of June 2013
Mostly good, some drawbacks
"My fiancÃ© and I just got back from Royal Catalonia Bavaro a couple of days ago. Overall, it was a very good trip. We booked through cheapcarribean and got the Royal side directly, which was very nice. The drive from the airport to Catalonia is only 10 minutes-- which is great! The Royal lobby has air conditioning and a very nice bar. We especially liked the bartenders there Lydia and Basilio were awesome. Actually, all of the wait staff on the Royal side were incredibly friendly. The pool on the Royal side was smaller than the main pool, but nicer because there were no kids there :) it had a Jacuzzi in the middle and a swim-up bar (all pools close at 7pm). There were also 2 separate Jacuzzis with warmer (not hot) water. The Royal side also had a sauna, a steam room and a gym separate from the regular resort. The room was very luxurious. There was a giant tub (no jets) and the maid put fresh flowers around it every day. The bed was huge and there was also a small balcony with a table, 2 chairs, and a hammock. We also had a very nice TV which had a pretty cool music channel. They also give you a DVD player if you ask but their movie selection is poor at best (and if you want adult films you are fresh out of luck because they say guest took them all home), but you could use the DVD player to play CDs, which is what we did. We tipped the maid and got lots of beer and rum in our room. The beach was ok.... fake sand definitely not as nice as real sand. Also, there were spots with no sand at all, just cement- highly unpleasant. The water was nice- very warm. If you go to the beach early it's much more clear than if you go later in the day. Also there was seaweed, they cleaned it twice a day, but it still washed up onto the fake sandy beach. Also, from my personal experience, water in the actual Caribbean sea is much nicer than the atlantic-carribean (which was this resort). While relaxing on the royal beach, a very sweet server Louisa comes up to offer you drinks from the bar- very convenient because you don't have to get up for anything. If it gets hot you could go to the bar, which has a shaded seating area which is kept cool by the wind from the beach... very nice. There were 5 restaurants available to us: Japanese (not the best), French (good lobster), Mexican (pretty good), American (didn't go), and Thalassa (the best- this one's only for Royal guests). There were also 2 buffets: one at the beach and one by the main lobby. The main thing about the food is that is gives you diarrhea (so bring loperamide or whatever else you use). There's plenty of bottled water everywhere so you don't have to worry about drinking clean water. Another really nice thing about this resort is the little shopping plaza. There are gift shops, clothing stores (especially convenient if you forget to bring long pants for dinner-- all men have to have long pants and closed-toe shoes to eat at the restaurants), there's also a pharmacy with pretty decent prices. I actually ended up getting an infection and was able to get good quality antibiotics for a reasonable price. If you plan on bringing back any alcohol with you, I recommend buying it at the resort because the duty free shop at the airport is quite a rip-off. I highly recommend "Licoco" it's a coconut liqueur that comes in a real coconut, wish I had bought more because I can't find it anywhere (If anyone brings back an extra bottle I'd love to buy it). There is also a Craperie in this shopping center that has very good dessert. As far as activities go, there aren't any on the Royal side. On the main side there's a "theater" where they have shows until 11pm and then the disco is open until 2am (3am on Saturday). On Monday they have a beach party with pretty exciting entertainment. In addition we went parasailing ($85 for both of us, not worth it), scuba diving ($79 a person- totally worth it) and ATV ride ($45 a person for singles- definitely worth it). I guess the most unpleasant part of the trip was when we were leaving. We were supposed to wait in the Royal lobby with air conditioning, but they made us wait at the main lobby-- where it's hot. We were also bothered by the fact that all of their swimming pools close at 7pm and that we didn't get out free 30-minute massage even though it said online we were supposed to. Oh also, the airport was pretty awful on the way back, but do get there early because the lines are horrendous. I guess that's it... this resort is very luxurious and beautiful and the territory is quite huge. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. HAVE FUN!!!"
- Travel date: Fri 10th of August 2007
An Excellent Deal
"When selecting a resort to stay at when traveling, I first visit the trip advisor site and look at the negative and positive comments. Based on previous reviews, I selected the Catalonia Bavaro (Royal). There was a group of nine of us who stayed at the Royal side of the resort, which is the private adult side. As a Royal guest, you have access to both sides of the resort. The grounds were kept wonderful. Although there was a slight language barrier, it was not enough that it kept us from getting what we needed or wanted. Our rooms were beautiful at the Royal side and more than what I expected according to the pictures shown for the resort. They do not even have the pictures of the rooms for the Royal side on any site that I have yet seen. Sunken round tubs, decorated with beautiful flowers and towel swans, a private balacony with hammock, dvd player (free movie rental) and flat screen tv, air conditioning and ceiling fan. When I stepped into my room, I could not believe that I was getting that room, for the price I paid. The staff was very helpful. They do not move at the spead we are accustomed to in the US. They are very relaxed, and I quickly learned to relax and go with the flow also (it made for a much better vacation and that was why I was there, to relax!!!). The grounds were kept very well and you were always greated with a smile. I had the opportunity to eat at the steak, Japanese and Mexican restaurants. Thalasa was the restaurant on the Royal side of the resort. The food was good. Not one of us had a bad dish. My favorite was the Dominican Chicken at Thalasa. While there we did the ATV excursion (I had a blast and ran into the bushes!!!!). We also did the Luna Tours, Bavarro Runner excursion. Amos was our tour guide and we loved him. This was my favorite tour because we got to go among the locals, horse back riding, swimming, visit the sugar cane groves, and visit a local family and tour their home and see how they live. We tasted coco beans fresh from the tree and roasted ones. The Kontiki Party Boat was an absolute blast. We changed our Santo Domingo trip because the excursion travel time was absolutely too long. If I was to complain about anything, it is the nightly show. If you see it once, ok. It is nothing to write home about. Three things to remember, Spanish is the native language, so brush up on basic Spanish words, when bargining for souvenirs, if they say 50, you say 10, if they say 40, you say 15, if they say 30 you say 20 until you come to the price you want to spend, and also, yes tips are included in your price, but just imagine your salary being about $50.00 per week and the average rent being $300.00. Most of us can't imagine. Leave a couple dollars, they will more than appreciate it. I was never more blessed, than when seeing my maid smile from the tips and trinkets I left for her. That made my trip worth every penny. So I recommend the Catalonia Bavaro Royal 100%. It is an exceptional resort for the money!"
- Travel date: Thu 5th of July 2007
Catalonia - The Royal
"A very good hotel - we upgraded to The Royal which cost $20 day extra, but well worth it. This hotel is adult only, and the extras you get is worth every dollar !"
- Travel date: Tue 26th of June 2007
"Just got back from Royal Catalonia Resort in Punta Cana and must say that it was one of the best vacations that we have ever had. After reading many mixed reviews, we were quite leary of what we would find once we got there. But let me say, it exceeded our every expectation. First, let me say that the 15 minute ride from the airport to the resort opened our eyes as to how poor of a country the D.R. really is. Nothing but undeveloped land and a few poorly constructed homes until you get to the resort.
Expect people trying to make a dollar bugging you at the airport. From musicians to baggage handlers, all trying to get money from you for their sevices. Immigrations is rather quick as long as you have your form filled out and $10.00 per person in your hand.
Our taxi driver took us to the Catalonia side even after we told him that we were going to the Royal side. He said all check-in was at the regular side. Once we got checked in, we asked how to get to the Royal side and the desk clerk asked if we wanted to "up-grade". We showed him on our reservations that we were supposed to be at the Royal and he told us that we were supposed to check-in over there. A little communication problem, but we caught a golf cart and rode over and got checked in. We were supposed to get a complimentary massage but were told that ended "two weeks ago". Wife was disappointed.
The suite was fantastic. Plenty of closet space, king bed, living area with sofa and two chairs and a balcony with hammock, two chairs and a table. Fridge was stocked with beer, bottled water, soft drinks and a bottle of champagne. This was replenished by the maid everyday. The large tub was nice, but took too long to fill up so we didn't us it. There were bath robes and slippers also in the room. The tv picked up alot of US channels (CBS, ABC and FOX news). Bed was a little firm, but we slept well. Until the roosters crow.
Food was great. The Thallasa Resturant is exclusive to Royal patrons. Lunch and dinner menu is the same everyday. Breakfast is a buffet and real nice. Roast beef was good at lunch (a little tough). Lobster and grilled mahi-mahi for dinner. The regular side has two buffets, one near the lobby and one near the beach and pool. These are available for all meals and open til 10:30 pm. Good variety of salads, fruits, chicken, fish, vegetables and deserts. You can always find something there to eat. Flavor was average to good. The theme resturants were also good. We ate at the steakhouse, Japanese and Mexican. Steakhouse had one of the best flavored rib-eyes that I have ever eaten. Your could also get Budweiser beer there. Japanese menu showed what you were going to be served. No choices. Sushi, soup, fish shrimp and noodles, rice, chicken, steak and vegetables. Good but not great. Mexican (and Corona beer) was really good. There was a beach party on Monday night and there was plenty of food there. The roasted chicken was great.
Bars were everywhere. Both pools have swim up bars. On the Royal side, the pool bartender is Jorge. Fantastic. He never let my glass get empty. Had great time learning to speak Spanish and teaching him English. Liked to talk about baseball and music. We will surely miss him. Beach bartender was Jose and Naomi. Jose was good, not much English, but Naomi always seemed to have an attitude. Presidente draft beer is everywhere and it was surprisingly good. We carried large insulated mugs that kept beer cooler longer.
Beach was great. Moderate amount of seaweed on the beach. Clean-up crews were constantly raking it up. Plenty of empty chairs on the Royal side. Other side was full and people were having a hard time getting shaded chairs. Never more than a dozen people on the Royal beach at any one time. Same way with Royal pool. Maybe 12-15 people around and in pool at any time. We walked through the regular side and the pool was full and people standing in line at the bars. We never waited for anything on the Royal side. WARNING..at the beach and the pool women go TOPLESS. Not just a couple, but about 90%. Pretty neat for the first day or two, but then became too "boring". Never thought that I would say that. Of course some of them probably should have stayed covered up (especially the 70 and 80 year olds).
Tips- We left $2 everyday for our maid. Several days I would add a pack of chewing gum or a candy bar. We would usually throw down a dollar or two at the buffets. And $3 to $5 dollars at the dinner resturants depending on the service. Bartenders usually got $2 per day except Jorge. I gave him probably $20 for the week and a pack of Skoal tobacco. But he gave me the best service of anybody. Baggage handlers got $3 each way and taxi driver got $5 each way. Jorge told me that he works 10 hours each day for 12 days and then gets three days off. He said he makes $300 US per month plus room and board. He said he makes another $300 each month on tips. So tips mean alot to the workers.
Overall, we thought it was great. Don't hesitate to go there. Just do the Royal side as it is 18 years and older, and very laid back. We stayed there for 7 days and enjoyed every minute. Weather was great, food was very good, room was wonderful and staff always spoke and treated us like royalty. Yes we would go back. ANd yes we would recommend it to others. Great value for the price. If you go, tell Jorge that we miss him already."
- Travel date: Sun 27th of May 2007
Fantastic Honeymoon April 21-27
"Excellent honeymoon! If you are looking to do nothing but lay in the sun, drink and be with the one you love this is the place to go. There are things to do like tours, day activities, night shows but we didn't do any of them.
My husband and I (27 and 29) booked our honeymoon at Catalonia Royal thorugh CheapCarribean.com. I know many people that have booked through this website so I was confident with their service. I'd have to say the worst thing about our whole trip is that we had to go to the CheapCarribean desk (which is actually Torinto when you get there) to schedule our return transportation. We ended up having the service desk call someone who just told us the time we were arleady scheduled for. Not a huge deal but it did pull us away from the pool/beach for a little while on 2 different days.
Getting to the resort: Transfers came with our package. This is what I was most worried about but it was a breeze. When we got there we just got our luggage and followed the crowd to the exit. There are all these Spanish speaking people wanting to take your luggage. At first it freaked us out but finally one of the guys spoke English and asked us what resort and what travel company. Then they took us directly to an air conditioned van. The trip took no more than 15 minutes max. The ride is a little scary as the drivers have no fear in this country but hey, if you were raised driving like this you would be good at it too.
The resort: The resort itself is pretty big but the Royal side is small. We stayed in building 46 (the closest building to the Royal lobby) the first room on the side away from the pool. This was a perfect spot for us. When we laid at the pool we could just use our own bathroom instead of the community bathroom that both guys and girls use. I would have thought that being so close to the pool that this location would be noisy but it wasn't. The most noise we heard all week were the birds waking us up in the morning. Overall the resort has well kept grounds/beach.
The room: Fantastic! Very large room with very large bathtub. Sitting area in the room and a small table with chairs on the terrace (we ordered room service everyday for lunch and ate on the terrace). While we were there it looked like they were getting ready to replace a lot of the furniture. We kept seeing beds, chairs, tables etc. being taken out of a couple of the buildings. The changed out our terrace furniture while we were there. The furniture that was there didn't look all that old especially since this side of the resort is onlly a few years old. The room had a large tv (my husband loved it), a large closet (I loved it) with a safe (very easy to program).
The pool: Great! Always a great place to cool off. Always had plenty of chairs availiable. The service at the bar/swim up bar was quick. We tried all the drinks and settled on Sex on the Beach as our favorite. In the afternoon they come around with little finger sandwiches and skewers of fruit...most delicious pineapple I have tasted in life!
The food: The food was ok. Breakfast: Buffet at Thalassa (the royal side restaurant). It was good for breakfast...lots of variety. Lunch: We always ordered room service everyday though you could eat at Thalassa. We tried everything on the room service menu but settled on the cheese plate and the roast beef sandwich. Each time we ordered the same thing and it would arrive a little different than the day before. I do recommend getting a little Spanish/English phrase book as the room service person does not alway speak English...this was a challenge on our first day when we got there and were starving. If you arrive to the resort after luch see if you can get a reservation at Thalassa for dinner. Dinner: You have to see the desk girl between 11:30 and 1p to make reservations. Get there at little early so you are first in line to get the best reservation times. I had lobster 3 times, twice at Thalassa (the Royal side restaraunt) and once at the French restarauant (La Parisienne) and all 3 times there were tails (you get 2-3) that were mushy. Not a huge deal since there was plenty of other food at dinner. We tried the French restaruant, the Steak restaurant (ok but the steaks are not what you would get at a regular US steak house so be prepared), and the Mexican restaurant. Our first night we tried the buffet on the other side of the resort and vowed never to go back there. I guess every night they have a different theme for the food. The night we were there it was not good at all...a lot to choose from but not very good.
The beach: Tropical paradise! Yes, there is seaweed. It's the ocean, there is going to be seaweed. They have workers there all day raking it up so it stays pretty clean. While we were there they were in the process of building something right next to the bar. I'm guessing it was going to be a sitting area with table and chairs. There were always enough chairs and huts any time of the day so don't feel like you have to wake up at the crack of dawn to get a chair.
The bar: Delicious! Drinks were always easy to get. The only beer they serve at the bars is El Presidente...sort of a lighter beer. In the room they give you Braham...a heavier beer than El lPresidente. Since I prefer Coors Light I stuck to wine and mixed drinks. They have premium liqour but you have to ask for it or else they just give you the "local" top shelf liqour. The good thing is they mix their drinks strong...be warned that they make the drinks a little different each time too...seemed to be a running theme in this country.
The service: Excellent! We didn't have a single problem with getting anything we wanted. On our first full day we tipped the maid and left a note asking for more beer. Everyday she left several extras in the frig and on the table. The service everywhere else was great as well.
Massage: Relaxing! We each had a complimentary 1/2 massage. There is a new fitness complex on the Royal side where you get the massage. While the girl used A LOT of massage oil it was still very relaxing.
Other information: These are just random things I wish I would have known before coming here.
-If you are coming from a cooler climate bring shorts in your carry on. While we were waiting for our luggage I went in the bathroom and changed. Boy was I glad I did...the climate is very humid.
-Bring a little dressier clothes for dinner. I brought 2 dresses but wished I would have brought a few more outfits. You don't have to get real dressy but it was nice to get cleaned up after a day at the beach and put on a decent outfit for dinner. Guys will need closed toe shoes for dinner.
-Bring a Spanish/English phrase book. It will come in handy for the basics.
-You don't need to bring beach towels if you don't want to. They give you 2 little cards that look like room keys. You turn them in at the desk to get towels. You can exchange them as much as you would like.
-Don't pack a lot of extra casual outfits. We spent the majority of our time in our swimsuits then we would change for dinner.
-If you are looking for adventures to go on there aren't a whole lot. I've been to Mexico and did the Mayan ruin tour...there is nothing like that here. You can go to a zoo like place to swim with dolphins and manatee. You can also do a four wheeler tour but other than that don't expect to be leaving the resort a lot.
Overall I highly recommend this resort to anyone looking for a relaxing time with a loved one."
- Travel date: Tue 15th of May 2007
Okay but that is all...
"We spent a week on the Royal Side last summer, that was our third trip to the D.R. and our most disappointing.
Our check-in was great and quite quick and we certainly had no complaints about the food... we also found most of the staff to be very kind and helpful (as is the case at most D.R. resorts).
We were extremely disappointed with the beach... alot of seaweed which we never encounter at any of the other resorts we stayed at and we are definately beach people. Although we loved not having to run down early in the morning to get a cabana.
The pool was fantastic, except for the day a small group of young children came over from the other side of the resort and started cannonballing into the pool and were not asked to leave until someone complained.
Our biggest problem was getting into our room... we were locked out 3 nights in a row and one of those nights it was pouring, we were drenched and had to wait over an hour for the manager as no one could get us in, we ended up missing our dinner reservations as well. The manager was horrible to try and deal with and while I understand he has many guests to deal with I feel we deserved more attention than we got and the door should have been properly fix the first night. This experience mixed with the poor beach is what turned us off this resort. Never again will I return! Next month we are returning to the D.R. and staying at the Grand Palladium which has a much nicer beach and we have never experienced any difficulties... the other resort we found very nice despite it's poor ratings is the Caribe Club Princess... I would return there again in an instance."
- Travel date: Tue 15th of May 2007
If you love noise and cigarette smoke...
"Although this hotel is quite beautiful, our two-week holiday was ruined by horrendous, raucous, non-stop noise from the poolside entertainment, which was almost impossible to get away from - even on the beach. When we ate at the buffet restaurant in the evening, we were bombarded with noise from the stage opposite.
We were also beseiged by smokers and fought, unsucessfully, with the management to even get a non-smoking corner in their Thalassa restaurant. All the non-smoking rooms stank of smoke too. While most of the staff were lovely people, the manager was rude, indifferent and completely unhelpful to us.
If you are looking for a quiet, peaceful holiday, this is NOT the place. I would also advise against booking with Nolitours, the tour operator we booked with. When we returned home and contacted them, seeking some form of compensation for our ruined holiday, they just weren't interested.
This is not what we expected from a 4.5-star resort."
- Travel date: Mon 30th of April 2007
The Catalonia (Royal)
"My boyfriend and I have just returned from an absolutely amazing week (April 12th-19th) at the Catalonia Resort!
When we first arrived at 10 am, we decided to go and check out the Royal upgrade. As soon as we got there we were sold! For an extra 20 dollars/per person per/day, we got the ROYAL treatment!
Check-In was very RAPIDO !!! By 11 am we were by the pool sipping our first drink!
Our room was beautiful and very very clean. The fridge was always well stocked, and towels were a plenty. These people go above and beyond to make sure you are happy and satisfied.
No getting up at the crack of dawn to try and get a cabana on the Royal side, either by the pool or the beach, they were ALWAYS available.
The pool area was amazing. Beautiful, clean, and sooooooo quiet. A real paradise! (The Royal side is adults only so it does make a difference)
The Thalasa is the a la carte restaurant on the Royal side. The food was delicious. The lobster tails incredible! If you love champagne, get ready! Its available with every meal at no extra cost!
The Royal also has a beautiful swim up pool bar and it's own lobby bar! With an amazing bartender named Jose! He is the BEST! He always has a smile on his face and his ready to please!
The a la carte restaurants on the Catalonia side, were also very good. Our favorite was Mikados, we went twice. The buffets have a HUGE selection of food, if you can't find anything to eat there, then maybe you should be staying home! The only restaurant that had a seperate wine list was the steak house (house wine was available). All others offered the wine and cerveza at no extra cost. The drinks are amazing! Just beware the COCO LOCOS!!! Made with REAL coconut milk!!! Our litte stomachs are not READY for the stuff! They are really great though!!! Just not so great latter on !! They certainly don't spare the liquor!!!!
The Beach is gorgeous! We went out with the catamarans everyday. It was great! The snorkeling is amazing! The water is sooooooo nice and warm!
Make sure not to miss the Beach Party held every Monday evening! It's beautiful! And also on Friday nights the vendors are allowed on the resort! But if you head passed the Royal side of the beach, down a small little trail along the beach there is a little market where you can pick up a few souvenirs! It's fun but don't forget to BARGAIN with them!!!!! Don't give them anymore then 1/4 of what they ask for! Even less sometimes! For example our first purchase starting offer from them was 150$! We left with everything for $25 US, so, ....BARGAIN!
I could go ON and ON and ON about this beautiful place.....It really was Paradise! Everything we wanted and soooooo much more!
Great Food Great People Great Service!!! And remember, A little tipping goes a long way! We always made sure to leave a little something for the maid. Every morning before leaving the room we would leave a tip and a little present in the same spot for her. We had brought shampoo, soaps, hair gels lotions etc....for her. Pantyhose are also very appreciated by the ladies.
Since we were there for only 1 week we decided to take only one tour. Many are offered! We chose the Bavaro Runners! We were not dissapointed! It's a full day adventure. You visit a sugar cane plantation, rice fields, the many little towns, you stop for lunch at a ranch where you can go horse back ridding along the beach, swim in the pool or the ocean. You visit a typical Dominican House and farm, where cocoa and coffee as well as other things can be purchased. So if you are looking to experience life outside the resort and get a feel for the REAL Dominican culture, I would HIGHLY recommend this tour! And if you are lucky enough to have Miguel as a tour guide then your trip is made!!!! He was wonderful, along with our driver Rodulfo! Also, we had brought pencils, notepads etc. for the children, many people had brought candy also, you do stop in a little village where they are all waiting for you. It's very heartwarming to see the children! Just a plain yellow pencil sure can put a smile on there faces!
So as you can see I have to respect the bad reviews for this place but I am really not sure if they were on the same resort we were!
To note we met a couple that was not staying on the Royal side and they were also VERY VERY satisfied! They said the service was fast, room was beautiful and clean also!
And remember, you are on vacation so RELAX!!!!! and Enjoy!"
- Travel date: Tue 24th of April 2007
Royal is worth the extra!
"We spent a wonderfully relaxing week Apr 14-21, 2007. The quiet and peace of the Royal side and access to the rest of the resort amenities was a tremendous deal. Make sure you have a bathing suit accessible as check-in is a bit trying, our room wasn't ready until 6, just get a drink at the bar, grab some towels, and go to the pool, relax and enjoy. Willys at the desk was reassuring and we just enjoyed the pool. Make sure your taxi driver gets you to the Royal side as ours dropped us at the main hotel and it added more time. Taxi was $28 to get to the hotel and $35 to return, however the ride back was in a decent comfortable car.
The room was beautiful and spacious, the soaking tub a real plus. Much marble and tile, king size bed, walk in shower, large closet, TV etc. I would request a second or third floor room so that you could use the balcony and hammock.
The Royal bracelet gets you top shelf liquor everywhere, your own restaurant Thalassa, which was great, a free massage, free golf, 9&18 holes and a gorgeous uncrowded pool area. The pool was a high point of the trip. Swim up bar, jacuzzi area and lots of really comfortable lounge chairs.
The beach is also private on the Royal side but you will have to stake out the thatched umbrellas early as others do and it makes it a hassle. The beach is weedy and the water very shallow. The beach was our least favorite part. But then you have the pool! Fruit Kabobs brought to you at the pool and beach!
Making reservations for the other restaurants is a hassle as the customer service girl has strange hours in the lobby. We found it easier to do it at the main hotel, we got better times there as well.
Thalassa on our side was our favorite. The Japanese was next, make sure you are hungry as you get everything. The French was good too, try the pigeon and the lobster thermidor- both great. The Steak House was a fair attempt at an American Steak House as well. We really enjoyed the food at Thallassa so we ate there the most. Raphael the waiter is great as are Maria and Yaneth. Try to speak their language and smile it will take you far.
A couple of bucks for tips helps too. Jose at the Beach Bar makes the best Margaritas. Lots of local drinks to try- Coco Loco's and Banana Mama's were favorites.
For dessert or a snack make sure you hit the Creperie- tremendous as most of the desserts offered are sicky sweet! Try the Crepe Suzettte or Limon.
Try the breakfast buffet at the Caribe, it is huge.
We took advantage of the golf- no ladies clubs to rent though, also bring your own balls and tees as they are outrageous. Narrow fairways and lots of water will eat up the balls you have.
The massages were great, we even payed for second ones.
Use the resort amenities, there is dancing every night and a show that is different each night at 22:00 (10:00). They were fun. Check out the Casino and Disco too. On Friday they have local vendors bring in goods and set up in the main lobby area, much better than the beach hut selling area.
We would come back here again for the pool, Thalassa and the tremendous relaxation."
- Travel date: Mon 23rd of April 2007
Fun in the sun
"We are a couple, aged 25-35. First visit to DR.
Read all the reviews on both Trip Advisor and DebbiesDominicanTravel for this and other resorts in Punta Cana. Enjoyed the negative reviews. Some people are never satisfied. Compared Catalonia Royal and Grand Palladium Palace Royal Suites as we wanted a quieter, adults-only section of a larger resort.
Lets put it in perspective. Per Expedia, Loews Miami Beach (4.5*), Ritz-Carlton Miami Beach (4.5*), Ritz-Carlton San Juan (4*), Grand Palladium Palace Punta Cana (3.5*), Catalonia Bavaro Punta Cana (3.5*). If you take the Royal side...lets call it 3.5 to 4 stars........and they do a great job. For all those who wrote negative reviews....remember what factors you considered when choosing your resort. Compare the rates for the above hotels.
Pool: Big enough, clean. No problem finding loungers or shade.
Beach: On the Royal side sea grass in ocean is mostly cleared up to about 50 yards out. Definitely not a problem. Some dead grass on the beach, but cleaned well. Water clear. Yes, you can see your feet. No waves. Depth 3-4 feet as far as you can walk. Make use of free kayaking, catamarans and snorkelling. Not many fish, but still fun. If you are comfortable snorkelling, go out beyond the sea grass. Beach is 350 steps from lobby. Covered walkway on the main resort side, which is two steps away. None of the rooms are much closer to the beach. Beach bar on Royal side. They will bring you drinks to your lounger if you are too lazy to walk. No problem finding a padded lounger any time of the day. Put your towel down by 8 am if you want shade all day under a palapa though. They could put up more palapas or beach umbrellas until the smaller palms grow and give more shade.
Food: Breakfast ,at Thalassa. Why go anywhere else. Lunch, buffet at beach restaurant, on main resort side, two steps from Royal beach. The main buffet, Grand Caribe, away from pool and beach, much quieter for lunch. Dinner try out the ala carte restaurants. Service is very good, food interesting. Just dont expect it to be like at your favorite restaurants back home. With the choice at the buffets, no reason you should ever go hungry. Reading the reviews for food at other resorts, it probably doesnt get much better. Drinks: ask for double shots or just drink it straight up if you want to get drunk. They will mix you whatever you want. Try the bar by the french restaurant in the evening, quiet, great service. Maybe some live music by the Royal lobby/bar/ Thalassa in the evenings could liven things up a little, without making it noisy.
Rooms: Cleaned well, although later in the day. Hang sign on door for it to be cleaned. No complaints except A/C coldest is preset. No problems with hot water or water pressure.
Resort Property: Clean, well maintained. Nice, clean spa area with exercise equipment and saunas if you need to burn some calories. The lobby, bars and main buffet on the Catalonia side are close, maybe a 2 minute slow walk.
Other: Service is very good, especially at the Thalassa and other ala carte restaurants. No complaints. Ate everything including salads and fruit. Ice in drinks. Brushed with tap water. No stomach ailments. No bugs or mosquitoes. The evening entertainment is fun while having a drink at the bar. Dont take it too seriously. It is just meant to liven things up a little.
General: Resorts in Punta Cana are large. Nothing to see or do outside of resorts. More waves the further north up the coast you go. Some people seem to complain about both extremes. Decide before you go. The mid section of the coast probably has the best beaches, which is why they have the older resorts.
For those of you booking yourself, check out the hotels website for the lowest rates. Upgrade to Royal is $10/person/night. [---]
Yes the hotel could be next to the beach, the sea could be sans sea grass further up the coast, but at what cost?
Had a very enjoyable, relaxing stay. Highly recommended."
- Travel date: Sun 15th of April 2007