10 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
"We booked through Travelocity and arrived only to find that the hotel was overbooked (about 5 other couples were in the same situation). They compensated us by having us stay at the Majestic resort next door (which is just as nice if not nicer, you might want to check it out as well), gave us $150, and promoted us to the Ambar section of the hotel (which is nicer with its own pool, no kids allowed, own restaurants). Food is good to average but don't expect to be blown away by the food. We ate at the Mediterranean restaurant (so-so) and the Brazilian Rodisio Steakhouse (actually pretty good). Service was also very good and rooms were clean. Having stayed at an all inclusive in Cozumel recently (the Occidental Grand), I definitely say this place is better. The only negative is that the beach is crowded and it's probably too rough to snorkel in. Next to the sea expect to find a "sea" of beach chairs. But it wasn't just our hotel. If you walk down the beach they are all very crowded. People would go out there at 8:00 AM and put towels on the chairs to get a good spot. Also Punta Cana is in a rural part of the Dominican Republic. There's a town close by but not much for tourists to do there. The place is enormous with its own little shopping area, casino, tram/bus, and is subdivided into several smaller hotels (Bavaro, Punta Cana, and Ambar). The place claims to have over 1800 rooms. Very diverse group of tourists, more so than Mexico (where its mostly Americans like myself), especially Canadians, French, Russians (which I was surprised to find), and British. Probably more Russians than Americans when we were there. You will see a lot of men wearing speedos and an occaisional topless lady (some of them you wish would wear a top, some not so bad). Expect to hear all kinds of languages spoken. I liked the diverse crowd, it kept it interesting. We paid a $10/person entrance tax (impuesto entrada) at the airport but no tax to leave (it might have been included in our ticket through American). Also the taxi ride from the airport was around $33 each way."
- Travel date: 18th January 2008
"My husband and I have just returned from the Ambar resort. Our stay was from Jan5th-12th. Overall we had a wonderful experience. Upon arrival we had a very late check-in. It was fairly quick and efficient however we didn't wait for the bellman but instead found our room ourselves. Our room wasn't up to the cleanliness standards of a 5 star nor did the mini-bar have any beer in it. I found some management and they delivered a few beers which was pretty good at 2a.m. The next day we requested a room transfer and got it no problem. Our maid was wonderful and ran a tight ship on our floor. Our room was spotless and we had more than enough towels and facecloths. She restocked our mini-bar everyday with more than what was required. We did tip her daily and I took an interest in her and asked questions about her family ( no I don't speak Spanish nor her English but you can always communicate if you try). She kept us very comfortable. The beach was beautiful and peaceful on the Ambar side. The BP Punta Cana/ Bavaro was a nuthouse with people crowded on top of each other and screaming kids. They were just having fun as kids do but I was glad we were on the quiet adult side. Not that those folks didn't try to bring their kids or themsleves over to our peacefulness but were quickly turned away by security. We walked through their pool area once and never went back to that side of the resort. Wilkins at the beach bar couldn't have been nicer and very generous on his free pouring. I also asked about his family and he was delighted to show me pics from his cell phone. Needless to say, he was wonderful to us. No he didn't speak english either but if you are kind and gracious, they will be too. The food was good and presentation very nice. Whenever I saw a chef or a lines person from the kitchen I shook their hand and thanked them for their hard work. We only had excellent service. We never waited for a thing, nor did we have anyone who was rude to us. All the staff smiled and said good morning or hello but then again I did too. Get it? You reap what you sow. We had a shade hut on the beach every morning but we were up early to enjoy the day. At mid-day you may find it hard to find a shade spot. The pool had plenty of chairs and fresh beach towels were always available. All the staff at the front desk spoke english as well as the consierge. And they were more than helpful. Our only complaint would be the check-out. We were not leaving the resort until 8pm but check-out was for noon. ( if you want a late check-out its $30/hour if your room is available). They took our bracelet and gave us a check-out piece of paper with the date and a signature from the front desk person. We were to use that for the reminder of the day but the staff didn't know what it was. I complained to the food and beverage manager and was told he would address it with all the staff. My suggestion, don't let them take your bracelet. Be pleasant, smile because you are on a lovely beach with warm temperatures and swaying palms and try to be personal with the staff and you will get many benefits in return."
- Travel date: 18th January 2008
"We stayed at the Principe Ambar from Dec.26 to Jan.2, 2008. We abosutely loved it! In reading some other reviews people were concerned with the service. They were correct in saying that the service wasn't the BEST service I have ever had, but it is to be expected. Unlike life in Canada or the United States, life in the Dominican Republic is a lot slower and laid back. Once a person gets used to this, they realize that the service is really quite good. Another thing that is important to do is to always tip. Try to tip everyone. For a lot of the rude people the workers endure, they do a very good job and are always happy. They help you when you ask for it, and even better when you tip! We always had WAY more than what we needed in our mini bar because we go to know our housekeepers, and treated them like anybody else, not our servants. The food was fantastic. There was a lot to choose from. I would recommend the Gourmet restaurant in (I think) the Bavaro side. It is much better than the Don Pablo Gourmet. Best a la carte was the Japanese by far! I was never hungry there. There is always something wonderful to eat or drink. The evening entertainment wasn't fabulous, but in all the different places I have stayed in, this entertainment was by far the best. Although the bar closes at 11 pm, it didnt really matter because there is still something to do, and to be honest, I was usually exhausted from all the sun I had gotten each day. The grounds and pool were beautiful, but be prepared to wake up at 7:30 am to put towels on your lounge chairs if you want a cabbana. Like every resort, people reserve their chairs with their towels, so a person must wake up early enough in order to do this because there aren't a ton of chairs. There were a few kinks here and there but overall our stay was great. I would recommend it to anyone and I am looking forward to going back."
- Travel date: 18th January 2008
still a great spot - but give it some time
"Just stayed at the Ambar from the 7th of January until the 14th. Filght in and out, customs etc went very smoothly compared to Costa Rica and Jamaica. Was slightly disappointed in the maid service, mini-bar and ala carte restaurants (only ate at one - the Don Pablo Gourmet) but overall was a beautiful resort, plenty of room and good food and selection at the buffets. Don Pablo had 2 courses and dessert. Food was good but nothing to write home about. Ala cartes were hard to get into sometimes as others have mentioned but this is brand new. Most were only 1/3 full as staff is on a major learning curve. Never really saw a butler either. Room was nice and clean. We were in building 68 overlooking a service road but since we were on the 3rd floor had a nice wview of the ocean. Very quiet also. The service problem seems to be a lack in direction from management and somewhat of a language barrier. Luckily I can speak Spanish so it helped overall. A hint for those going, the Italian restaurant, Portofino, is open in the morning around 8:00 with a good breakfast buffet. Had quail eggs and caviar every morning. Not too many people know this and it is never crowded. Sit by the window and enjoy the ocean view with your fresh coffee. Manuel and Wilson were great in the bar, and Ramon in the main buffet. Pool service was also very good. We would go back as we want to relax and enjoy the weather when we travel...perfect place for this."
- Travel date: 17th January 2008
"We stayed 1 week in this almost new 5-star. The ADULTS ONLY section was great: quiet, off by itself. While the resort is huge, with some sections quite a distance from the beach, we were very close. The food was great, premises spotless, staff seemed happy/helpful. English was not spoken as widely as say, Mexico- a good excuse to try your Spanish! The beach was beautiful: went out of sight in both directions. The resort has 3, 12- foot catamarans for use. Do not be 'sucked in' by the attendants' request for $25! Maybe a little 'dinero' at the end! At times, room maid service was a little inconsistent, but nothing serious enough to contact the desk. Ground transfers went smoothly, as did the flight from the airport. This is less than 1 hour away. We would consider returning!"
- Travel date: 16th January 2008
All Things Considered-Great
"As my title states it was great--hotel grounds,service, beach,food were all excellent.The staff were friendly and helpful and took care of something when asked.Coming from NYC i'm always rushing so I had to get used to a little slower pace --once I did I had a great time.The hotel is brand new and beautiful--the pool could be a little warmer but overall great.Anyone going to this resort should attend the orientation offered and check out the map given them--it will save time and help in your navigation of this huge resort.I plan on returing later this year--OLA!!!!"
- Travel date: 13th January 2008
Nice place shame about the service
"My partner and I spent 28th Dec to 4th Jan 2008 at the Ambar. The place looks great, we were very lucky to have an ocean view room which sat on the corner of the hotel, giving us more space and a bigger balcony than most other guests... BUT the service is TERRIBLE!! Hardly anyone speaks English, it was really hard communicating with the staff. I do not believe we received 5 star treatment, we basically had to do everything ourselves, the only we got towels in our bathroom was to bribe the maid! After giving her some money, we noticed we didnt have to complain to the concierge over the lack of towels in our bathroom. The bar/restaurant staff work really hard and I do feel quite sorry for them as I don't beleive they received very much training. The amount of times we heard glasses smash and plates dropped! Bahia Ambar should employ people that at least have a basic understanding of the English language. The food was fabulous, we really enjoyed eating at the Don Pablo restaurant. However, it's a real pain having to make reservations for dinner, a few times we were told that the Don Pablo was fully booked, when in fact it was half empty! Entertainment is poor and boring, be prepared to go to bed at 11pm, that's the time they turn the lights out at the bar! The pool was very busy, there were no sun loungers available, in the end we paid the pool bar man to reserve loungers for us. We rather that then sit on the concrete! The beach was also packed and again there were no sunloungers available by 11am... I had to send my poor boyfriend for miles searching for loungers for us. I had a nice experience, got a great tan, ate well, but I wouldn't go back, purely because when we pay for 5 star, we actually want 5 stars! I hope this has helped."
- Travel date: 12th January 2008
Poor Service, Beautiful Resort
"My wife and I stayed at the Ambar resort from Dec 20th to 27th. Upon arrival at the Bavaro, which is where you go prior to heading down to the Ambar, they could not find us in the computer system even after we had told them we were booked in at the Ambar. Took the person at the desk about 10 minutes to realize that we had to go down to the Ambar to check in. Minor detail but I thought they would have know ahead of time that folks staying at the Ambar would be made aware of this upon arrival because we boarded the bus at the airport the rep there knew where everyone was going and told my wife and I that we were all set at the Ambar and that's where we would check in. After finally arriving at the Ambar, the front desk was excellent. He had our package ready for us. Bracelets, room key, information pack etc. He had a bell hop take us over to our villa/room. Well we had to turn on our cell phone to use as light as the stairwells and hallways were not lit at all. Felt this was quite unsafe especially due to the high humidity factor and ceramic flooring. Asked about it the following day at the Guest Services desk and all I got was a blank stare and a comment "ok". First 3 days of our stay was absolutely great. However on Christmas eve it all went down hill. We went to the Palmyra dining room for our dinner and we dressed accordingly as per the rules of the resort/dining room. No shorts for men etc. Upon entering the dining room the young gentlemen at the door gave my wife a long stem rose, very nice. We were seated at a table and had champagne poured for us, again very nice. We then went to the buffet and got our meal, returned to our table to enjoy the dinner and our evening. No more than 10 minutes into our meal the doors opened up and the dinning room began to fill up with small kids, strollers, teenagers and other adults. Not that we do not like kids because we have 4 of our own, we took this so called "Adult Only" vacation to give ourselves a bit of a break. Well the dining hall noise level went through the roof. The other 30 couples that were there were also as upset as we were. Kids were running around screaming and crawling under tables where couples were actually seated and the parents of these kids didn't seem to care and some actually thought it funny. Let me tell you, if you pay extra for an "Adult Only" resort and vacation, that is EXACTLY what you should get. We complained to guest services, and we were probably the 20th couple to do so in a very short time frame, and were told that "oh no, this is Adult only and no kids are here". I told the guest service lady to go have a look in the dining room and see for herself but all I got was another blank stare, somewhat like a "deer caught in the headlights look"! After that everything seemed to go badly. Our mini fridge/bar was to be restocked daily but was only done once and we had to call and have it restocked after that. We just gave up after the second call. And I know for a fact that people have experienced this at other resorts as well. All inclusive and mini bar restocked daily means exactly that. Not that we drink a lot but the pop and water should be replenished daily and wasn't. We tried to order room service twice. The first time was met with "oh we don't have that today". Ok, not a big deal. We just happened to be going by guest services again and asked her if the item we wanted to order was available today and she called herself and then told us "yes, its available, why?". We told her we had just called 30 mins prior and were told it wasn't available. This was the first time someone actually apologized to us and said they would take care of it for us. We went back to our room and 20 minutes later our food arrived and it was very good. We also had a fruit basket delivered with two wine glasses compliments of guest services. Fruit was bruised and very, very ripe. And yes, no wine to compliment the wine glasses. We then found out the day of check out that the "passbook" they gave us upon arrival was NOT for the Ambar portion of the resort. Check out was 12 noon but our flight wasn't until 8pm so we opted to pay for 3 additional hours, which according to the book was 10 dollars US per hour. Went up in the morning to the front desk to pay and was told "oh no, that book not for Ambar and the rate is 30 dollars US per hour". I was more than upset with this and pointed out to the desk that it was clearly written in the book THEY provided me. Didn't matter to them. So I very reluctantly paid 90 dollars US for 3 additional hours. I do have to say that the food at this resort was absolutely spectacular! Never have I enjoyed so many different meals that were prepared to perfection. Well done to all the Chefs and their staff. Rooms were neat and clean as well as the grounds which were kept in perfect condition. A simply beautiful place. We loved the resort for its beauty and achitecture. I also acknowledge that this is a new hotel and there will be some growing pains but NOT looking after your guests concerns and addressing issues raised by them is most definitly NOT the way to win repeat business. I will not return to this resort anytime in the future nor would I recommend it to my many friends and family whom travel a great deal. Sorry Ambar, but service FIRST is what its all about! TGale/JBell Hubbards, Nova Scotia Canada"
- Travel date: 10th January 2008
front desk is a circus show!
"Hi there, Just got back we stayed from Dec 30th 2007 to Jan06th 2008. Our stay got better everyday but the first night was a nightmare! We arrived at the hotel late at night and there was only one guy working at the front desk! Check in was slow, confusing and a complete joke! One bell boy working for a whole bus load of people from Toronto! Anyways so we got to our room after an hour or so standing at the front desk with our group from T.O....The rooms only get hydro when you put your key in the slot inside the room on the wall. The problem with this is, no AC all day, musty smell take a day or so to go away, warm bar fridge! It took 24 hrs for the fridge and room to get cooler! The AC was not cool enough it ran for our 7 nights/24 hrs a day...there was also a cock roach in our tub when we looked in( so I killed it and just moved on)........the room was clean and nice looking! just hot and musty......The smell goes away once you activate the hydro because the ac turns on! First night we were ready to go home! The rest of our trip was amazing! Hot weather! made a few hundred playing texas holdem at the casino, hit the disco everynight, careeokee is fun( good performances by the scorpian from Niagara falls ont......The beach is amazing! The food is ok for dominican food! we liked the pizza, fries, chiken, fuit, spegitti, lobster from the gourmey, This is a great resort just not 5 STAR it's a 4 STAR.....Also too big we would need a month to discover the whole place...it is HUGE.....we snook into the RIU next door is was beautfull and so is the majestic on the other side! You will have fun on this trip just don't expect 5 Star service from the front desk and roomservice! There is a market on the beach about a 20 min walk....I got a box of COHIBA's for 40 bucks.....that's about it go and enjoy....."
- Travel date: 9th January 2008
good but not great...new hotel blues
"just got back, stayed from dec. 29th until jan.5th I had read alot about this hotel in the past few weeks and my expectations were high...i was a bit dissapointed We got there, the weather was beautiful and so was the place i mean everything is new and beautiful the beach is breathtaking...lots of room, deep beach with perfect sand our first days were really nice...i thought i had found the ideal destination but with time, we realized that we were suffering from the 'new' hotel blues i.e. the service was inconsistent (which is kinda normal for a new place on new year's eve)...we had to wait numerous times over an hour in our room because our toilet blocked no one ever said sorry for arriving after 3 hours...nor did they want to accomodate us by leaving is a plunger we wait once for 25 minutes at the bar for some coffees...not because the barman was not good, but the bar seemed understaffed while other areas where emtpy with many employees the maid service is poorly organized...i.e. factory style..meaning everyonehas one little task to do...we ended up always lacking towels, drinks and even our comforter 1 night most employees were very nice but we quickly noticed that we ought to learn spanish before our next trip...we thought it was a bit dissapointing for our concierge to not be able to understand us...as i am sure that is in part the reason why we had daily little problems and/or delays, could not communicate them to him clearly... they never really made me feel special, in that 5 star way lol...and when they gave me the run around on the last day to find some towels in order to take my shower at the gym...they never offered to bring them to me but directed everywhere without organizing anything, i ended up bumming them of a maid...after my other ones had been taken from me and not replaced while the beach towel girl me basically to 'just not shower then'because we were leaving that day and she did not want to give me clean ones i was expecting a a la carte lunch place but there was none... bummer besides these things....it is a beautiful place, the food is good, the beach...amazing...the ambience and night shows and casino (with texas holdem poker!!!) it is my best weather yet...only 1 rainy day and never too hot in my opinion...i has dissapointed because i went there thinking it would be like other places i have been (royal hideaway, paradisus de oro,..) but i was not...it will take a bit of time for the management to get the twist...especially on busy weeks like this past one hopefully i was just unlucky...which could be as most posts are quite positive sor far my bottom line: go there to find a beautiful place...but not if you like to be pampered :)"
- Travel date: 7th January 2008
Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar is also called
- Gran Bahia Principe Ambar
- Playa Bavaro
- gran bahia principe ambar hotel