Samana, a province of the Dominican Republic, has become quite a popular vacation destination in recent years. Upon arrival at the airport of Samana, guests have to spend another hour on a coach before getting dropped off at a tiny port, where we would be transferred by boat to the island of Cayo Levantado. The fifteen minutes boat ride can be slightly uncomfortable and bumpy, depending on the weather conditions. Luckily everyone made it in one piece.
Situated on the island is the resort owned by Bahia Principe, Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado, and the private beach that only resort guests can access. This is where I spent most of my days as I felt more secure, and there was never a lack of beach chairs. One drawback is that the water of the private beach, due to high waves, was always slightly murky, so if you expect to see straight into the bottom of the ocean, you’re out of luck. On the other-side of the island is the larger public beach area where outside travelers and locals can use. The scenery is breath-taking, only I was advised by the tour guide not to go there during the weekend as it was Easter, and things would get a bit crazy.
I stayed in a Junior Suite in Villa 1, which is close to the main outdoor area with a mini stage and nightly entertainment around 9pm. It was noisy in the room during those times, but since the shows always ended promptly at 10:30pm, no complaints. Every night there’s a beach party in the public beach area for those night owls. The resort does not provide free drinks at the public beach during the day, but they’ll set up a bar at night so guests have access to all-inclusive drinks during the beach party, which is considerate. The Junior Suite is cleanly kept, with an amazing view. There’s also a dining and seating (with sofa) area in the large balcony. No detection muggy smell that’s typical of resort rooms due to humid weather, and no mold found either. All in all I am very satisfied with the room.
Suggestions for Improvement:
- The amount of time I spent waiting for hot water to come out in the shower was ridiculous, almost 5 minutes, what a waste of water. Then there was sewage backup the first time I tried to flush the toilet. If the cleaning staff can check each time they clean up the bathroom, it’ll certainly be less hassle for guests. One day, the cleaning staff completely forgot to replenish my towels, and when I called the front desk, I had to wait for over half an hour, and I had to call back to complain before someone finally showed up!
- TV channels selection was ridiculous! Given that a large percentage of clientele speak English, I would expect more English channels instead of just one, ABC TV! (Most of the other channels are in Spanish). There were supposed to be a few more, but satellite didn’t pick up signals properly! If a cruise-ship in the middle of the ocean can pick up signals, there’s no excuse for the resort. I tried to use their free in-room Wi-Fi to watch some videos on You-Tube or Netflix, but reception was too weak.
I am pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food. I’d say it’s comparable to food on a cruise. I was especially blown away by a grilled whole fish served during one lunch buffet, just delicious. They own a few coffee machines that serve espresso, latte, cappuccino, etc., nice surprise! The picture was taken at their signature restaurant, Don Pablo and I picked their tasting menu. Slightly disappointing was the fact that the duck was over-cooked to a point where it was chewy and dry. Although the resort does have a wine list where guests can pay for a nicer bottle, I do think the quality of their free wine is decent. I caught a glimpse of the bottles and there were a red and white French table or IGP wines, a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, and a couple of Spanish Crianza red wines.
Suggestions for Improvement:
- There are 3 restaurants in the resort: Mediterráneo (seafood), Portofino (Italian), and Don Pablo (gourmet cuisine). I had the most horrible experience in trying to book dinner. I went straight to the reservation desk upon arrival, and was told that they were all fully booked for two nights in a row. Given that my trip was five days four nights, I insisted that I should get to try all three restaurants. Thankfully the employee was able to make some special arrangements for me. But wouldn’t it be much easier to do this through on-line registration? At least then I can book ahead of time instead of scrambling last minute.
- I ordered a red wine to go with my meal in Portofino and I was a bit disappointed that I was served another Spanish Crianza. Basic wine 101, serve the region’s food with its wine. I am sure there are tons of nice but economical Italian wines that would pair nicely with my meal. This improvement would probably come at no extra cost to the resort, win-win!
Just a couple of days after I’m back home, I received an on-line survey from Bahia Principe, which proves that they are paying attention to our comments. This to me, is a good sign 🙂