Iberostar Punta Cana
This article was written by Joe Ferrari. Thanks for submitting it, Joe!
Sorry this has taken so long, but it has been a hectic 7 weeks since returning from the Iberostar Bavaro. You may have read my review of the Iberostar Dominicana from March. My wife and I, along with our neighbors were there the first week of March ’03 and absolutely feel in love with Punta Cana. I stated in that review that we loved it so much that we were considering taking our two youngest daughters (Christina-6, Caity-13) back in the summer. Well it took some time to convince my wife (not too much.), that we needed to return. BINGO. We were at the resort this time from Sat. Aug.2 thru Sat Aug. 9, 2003.
We got a great deal from our travel agent ,and this time we were able to fly out of Rochester,NY instead of Buffalo NY. That was a great selling point. Our trip in March was a charter which was great, but this wasn’t too bad at all. We left Rochester 7:30 on Sat, then to Charlotte NC. We did not have much of a layover. Time to grab a bite to eat then off to Punta Cana. It was a 3hr flight from Charlotte. The plane was full but with the 2 girls there was plenty of room. We flew US Air and the flight was smooth. Karen prefers the charter out of Buffalo, 3 hours you’re there! But either way was fine. Its vacation! The girls flipped out when they saw airport. They had seen the pics of it but until you see it, it’s not real. We were able to get some great pics of the island as we were getting ready to land. I have pics posted along with the one from the March trip. I will put the link at the end of the review.
FIRST AT RESORT
We, along with our travel agent and tour company (GOGO), asked for a room on the beach and for a few special things, (close to pool & ocean view). Seeing this was our second time at the resort within a 6 month period, I thought nothing of asking for special treatment. It was about 3:30-4:00 when we got to the resort and were not disappointed. The desk was well aware of our requests, and that we were returning guests. You will see in the photos, that our room was less than 50 feet from the beach. Un-freaking-believable. We were in room 1296, which was in the second to the last building on the resort. The view from our patio/deck was breathtaking. Never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined such a view, and being that close to the beach and the spectacular Caribbean Sea. The people at the Bavaro Iberostar were OK, Karen liked the check-in better at the Dominicana – they brought you to the room in golf carts – this time we were just given a map and told where to go. After a long day of travel I would have preferred the ride to my room instead of searching for it.
Also know that this resort is huge. You will be walking a lot and we enjoyed it, but going from one end of the resort to the other which we did everyday I would figure its at least 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile if you walk the beach way.
When here in March we were booked into the Dominicana, but actually were upgraded to one of the suites. The suites are really part of the Bavaro, so we were familiar with what to expect in the room. But never expected the view we had. The room was also very close to the pool. Everything was great, once we found it.
I had included in my review of the Dominicana our e-mail, so if anyone had questions they could contact us. I couldn’t believe how many people contacted us. I probable will have to say on the conservative side around 125 to 150 different people contacted us. I was more than happy to answer all of them. Which leads me to this.
We were contacted by a couple in England about some concerns they had about the resort. Their names are Ray and Nikki. We e-mailed back and forth a few times, answering questions and sending different pics that I had not posted. We kept in touch, and then when we finally booked our trip, realized that they were going to be at the time we were too. Well let me just say, the 8 or so weeks leading up to the trip, Nikki would almost on a daily basis e-mail us the weekly – then daily – countdown. It was great. We also would IM them and really struck up a great friendship.
Ray is in the Royal Airforce and there were times when he was in the Middle East that things got pretty scarry. Things turned out well and we met Ray and Nikki and their son Alex in the Dominicana lobby bar our first night (Sat.). It was great meeting them, they were an absolute gas (a bit of the Brit in me there). They were so kind and grateful for the info we had given them, and of what to expect. It was unexpected, but they came with gifts for our whole family, even our 2 oldest kids (Joe-16, Jen-18), who did not want to do the family trip thing. They were sorry of this fact after seeing our pics. That’s another story all together. They had gotten me a print of the aircraft that Ray flys on, a Hercules C 30, and a shirt from his squadron. Some fine English china for Karen (my wife) and mom, and really cool things for the girls. But most important they brought fixings for Brandy Sours (haha). We were all pretty tired and planned on where to meet the next morning.
I know that Ray and Nikki, especially Nikki check out this website often, so let me say here for all to see… Thanks to the both of you, and we are now friends forever.
On to more detail. The Bavaro pool, although very nice, could really use a paint job. It is a zero entry pool, and gets very slippery around the edge as the day goes on. The Bavaro is the oldest, and the first of the Iberostar hotels. I believe they said it was 15 years old, followed by the Dominicana (10yrs), then the Punta Cana(5yrs). The pool was fine in the morning but got somewhat crowded as the day went on. Another thing was the swim-up bar. It was hard at times to get drinks (this was solved by throwing the bartenders a few dollars a couple of times) because of all the kids getting their soft drinks and stuff. Also they would be jumping into the pool right next to the bar. It was a pain at times, but after a while someone would put a stop to it. My wife and I spoke to the manager of the Bavaro one night, and mentioned about the paint job and being slippery. He apologized and went on to say that the only way for things to get done to the pool was for there to be a hurricane. I found this kind of funny, but could see his point. The resort is packed year round, and I would hate to be the one there on vacation the week they try to paint.
We really spent most of the days at the pools at the Dominicana and Punta Cana. The Punta Cana pool was really quiet, a few kids and families. After the first day we started to talk to 2 couples from Staten Island NY. Their names were Mike and Sharon, and Eric and Yvonne. They were their with their sons Mike Jr (3), and Eric (2 1/2- “no mommy no mommy!”). They were great to meet and we want to say Hi to them as well.
All in all, the 2 pools at the Punta Cana and Dominicana were much better, bigger, cleaner, and not as crowded as the Bavaro.
One morning after Nikki had mixed up pails of Brandy Sours (again… check out my pics), one of the star friends recruited myself, Mike, and Eric to be part of the Olympics on the beach. Well after a few Brandy Sours we felt more like we should be involved in the Special Olympics. We KICKED BUTT in the tug-o-war and Mike was in the water balloon sitting event. We then formed a huge Conga line and wound our way to the pool for a victory line dance… (Dale Pa Alla… Dale Pa Acca) levantando las manos everybody. We laughed so hard my side hurt the next day.
There are daily activities to participate in if you want (volleyball, dancing, bingo, etc.) but we much preferred the beach and pool activity of sunbathing. Don’t expect too much to do. It’s definitely not like a cruise where they have things planned all day and night. That is kind of what we like about it though – it’s very laid back.
The excursions as far as we are concerned seemed over-priced and not that exciting. The Manatee Park where you can swim with the dolphins sounded appealing at first with the girls but our tour guide said they only swim 2x a day and its for all the resorts so multiply the number of resorts with kids wanting to do it and I say- forgettaboutit! Pool was fine! By the way it’s $70.00 US dollars to do it per person.
Two things not to miss are the Beach Bar-B-Que, and the Paella on the Beach. Both the Dominicana and Bavaro have the Paella, but I believe only the Dominicana has the Bar-B-Que. Ask to find what days these are done. When staying at the Bavaro you have access to everything on the resort. Be sure to check everything out.
OK, Karen here – I am going to give you the main reason to stay at the Bavaro and have use of all resorts and its the food. After having been at the Dominicana and now seeing the difference it is well worth the extra money. Especially if you are traveling with very picky young eaters as my girls are. Now I am not saying that the Dominicana is not good, it is, but there is a much better selection at the Bavaro, there is room service at the Bavaro, and they will accommodate you if you ask. The restaurants were pretty much similar but please if you go and like seafood make sure you try the Mediterranean (La Dorada) remember to wear pants guys or you’ll have to go change. That was excellent!
The Bavaro buffets at poolside for breakfast and lunch were amazing, well laid out, and had a lot of options and stations. It was like full buffets that were in the Dominicana and Punta Cana lobby for dinner, but a little better. We utilized the room service (which had chicken fingers and french fries on the menu) at least 3x for the girls and it was great, didn’t take too long either. The buffet was excellent at the Bavaro lobby for dinner too. They had theme nights, Italian, Mexican, etc., and we enjoyed that.
Again if your going on a limited budget and kids will eat whatever stay at the Punta Cana for the price, if you prefer better options definitely book the Bavaro.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE RESORTS
least expensive, but newest
rooms like normal hotel rooms
limited access to other areas for drinks and food – can only get drinks at Lobby bar or by steakhouse
addition coming that will have family-style suites – looks nice
nice and clean
Say hello to Eladio in Lobby bar – he is great!
People are the friendliest here, we really like the workers that are here and they actually remembered us from March! That was amazing! Mohammed at the beach bar is awsome! Remembered our names – Hows that for service!
Can drink in Lobby bar of either Dominicana or Punta Cana or at both pool side restaurants
Can upgrade to a suite and well worth it
Areas are extremely clean
Lobby has the Casino
Entertainment here nightly
Food is excellent
Service was ok, still liked the Dominicana for service too!
Access to all bars, restaurants and buffets in whole resort
Entertainment nightly in lobby area
THINGS TO KNOW:
There are shuttle carts available from lobbies of Dominicana and Bavaro – I am sure they probably are available from Punta Cana too. Well worth a couple bucks tip at night with a tired child! Just ask at desk for them they will direct you.
All in all we love the resort. We want to try the Mayan Riviera in Mexico next and will stay at the Iberostar. But dollar-for-dollar you can’t beat the price of the Dominican Republic, and I am sure we will return again.
Any questions feel free to contact us and be sure to check out the photos.