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Reviewed 14 January 2012

My husband and I stayed at this resort from Dec 29 to Jan 5, 2011. I sort of have mixed feelings about this place. Don't get me wrong, the hotel and grounds are very nice, the food is good, and the service was good.

We arrived at the airport around noon. The drive from the Samana airport to the hotel is about an hour. For the American traveller's - we were talking to some people at the resort that are from the US. They had mentioned that, for whatever reason, the American airplanes are not allowed to land at the Samana airport, so they had to fly into the LaRomana airport. The drive from that airport to the resort was about 2 1/2 hours.

When we boarded the bus to take us to the resort, they did a pre check-in. We thought this would be a great idea and save alot of time once we arrived at the resort. It did save time, but it did not save on the frustration factor. Once we arrived at the hotel, we were greeted with dancers and welcome drinks and were told that our rooms were ready, but that we couldn't go to our rooms yet. We asked why, and were never given an answer. Instead, they wanted us to leave our luggage in the lobby and go to the buffet to have lunch. Again, not a horrible request, but all we really wanted to do was get to our room, get rid of the luggage, change out of our jeans and get our bearings.

When we were finally allowed to go to our room, we were shuttled to our room. When I made the booking, I specifically requested not to be on the main floor, but quickly found out that we were on the main floor. We called the front desk and requested to be moved, which was not a huge problem.

One complaint that I do have is about the safe. If you want use of the safe, you have to pay $4/day. Not that this is alot of money, but for the amount that we paid to stay at this resort, I find it a little ridiculous that you need to pay for use of the safe. Anyway, we went to the front desk to pay for the safe and informed them that the safe didnt appear to be working anyway. They sent someone to our room to change the batteries, only to find out that the safe was really broken. After about an hour, the safe was fixed and we were able to use it. (We had no further issues with the safe)

The room - Our room was in one of the Villa's. The room was large and was always cleaned. The first day we didn't leave a tip and we weren't giving any towels or water, so we had to request extra. The second day, we left a tip, our mini fridge was restocked, extra water, lots of towels and our bed was decorated with flowers. We left small tips the remaining days and had no problems. Coincidence?

The food - we preferred the buffet over the restaurants. There are three restaurants - Italian, Seafood and Gourment. The Italian and Seafood restaurants were okay.The Gourment Restaurant had more seafood items on the menu than the seafood restaurant did. As part of the Royal Golden package we were allowed 4 reservations. As mentioned, we preferred the buffet over the restaurants and ended up cancelling one of our reservations.

The resort - The grounds of the resort itself are beautiful. Lots of trees. Very well maintained. But................... My biggest complaint about this resort................ is all the stairs. Yes, I actually counted the stairs that we climbed on a regular basis while we were there. There was exactly 107 stairs from our room to the main building. This number did not include walking steps, but actual stairs. They did have shuttles (golf carts) that would pick you up and take you to the front lobby. All you had to do was call and they would send a shuttle. We found that when we did call, they sent the shuttle driver with a tool kit. This meant that they had to go into a room, fix something, then take you up to the front. We ended up waiting too long and ended up walking the steps anyways.

The beach - the beach was not very big at all. It was clean and there were always chairs available. The hotel is built on a cliff, so you do have to take the elevator down to the beach. On our first day there, there were reports that someone was stuck in the elevator for over an hour, but heard no other complaints about the elevator. The beach is not like what you see in postcards (no whitesand, and no clear crystal blue water), but overall I can't complain about the beach.

The pool - again very clean and always had chairs available.

The entertainment - while there is no question that the entertainment staff do work long hours, the evening entertainment was just alright. The problem with the evening entertainment is that they hold the shows in the disco on a very small stage. When they tried to have 8 dancers on the small stage, it was very restrictive and I don't think the entertainers could do their best simply because they didnt have space. The best show of the week was definitely the magician. We were at the resort for New Years Eve. Whenever we asked what the resort had planned for New Years Eve, nobody seemed to know. They had a live band, dancing, party favours, champagne, the countdown with fireworks. Alot of fun!

The Priviledge Club - we did get talked into going to the "Priviledge Club" presentation. They basically give you a free gift in exchange for an hour of your time where they try to sell you basically a time share type of program. The presentation ended up taking way longer than the hour and was very expensive. I tried speeding the presentation up a bit, but it wasnt working. I finally told them that I was done and didnt want to hear no more, for them just to tell me the bottom line, and get on with the day. Once I told them that I thought it was over-priced, they did not pressure and thanked us for our time. We were supposed to get a t-shirt delivered to our room (with our picture on it), but it never did arrive and we honestly didn't bother asking for it.

Other - the resort does offer you a shuttle into town. It is only about 5 minutes down the hill, you could walk it, if you chose. The shuttle into town runs every hour. The shuttle drops you off at the shops owned by the hotel, but less than a block away, you are right into the city. We had a local take us on a little tour and we felt safe. We had no issues whatsoever.

We did one excursion over to Cayo Levantado. This is a Bahia Principe hotel on an island. You can see the island from Cayacoa. Apparently this is where they shoot all the Barcardi Rum commericals. Here is where you will find the white sand and crystal clear blue water. Absolutely gorgeous!!!! We werent allowed to go into the resort area, but from what I could see, it looked really nice!!!

The airport on the way home - although this has absolutely nothing to do with the resort - I wanted to mention a few things about the airport. It is definitely nothing like the airports here in Canada or the US. When we arrived, there about 3 busloads of people all getting on the same plane. There was only one flight (ours) leaving within our time frame. All 3 busloads got into line to check our baggage and to get our boarding passes, but only the line didnt move. After about 45 minutes, we asked what was going on and was told that they had the wrong flight list and until they got the right one, they couldn't process any passengers. Finally about an hour and half later, we checked our bags and headed to security. The patted down absolutely everyone and hand searched a large percentage off people's carry-on's. I can't complain too much about this, because it is for everyone's security. Because of all the delays, we started boarding the plane fairly quickly. Once we were all boarded, we sat there until airport security came on board and starting calling individual passengers off the plane. We were all a little concerned at this point. The pilot announced that the security officals let the dogs lose to sniff the cargo area and if the dogs sniffed anything (could be coffee, perfume, alcohol, drugs, anything) they would thoroughly search the luggage. Again for our security, but because we didnt know what was happening at first, very concerning. Finally after about an hour and half sitting on the runway, we were cleared for take off.

Overall, the resort was very nice, the food was good and the beach and pool were great. The weather was great (it did rain almost everyday, but only for about a half hour, with the exception of one day when it rained the whole day) No complaints about this stuff. But my largest complaint, and the sole reason I would not return or recommend this resort, is because of the stairs. I am not lazy or inactive in any means, but I came on vacation to relax, not to climb stairs everywhere we went.

Room Tip: If you go here, to avoid the stairs, do not stay in the villa's. Request to stay in the main building and you will avoid 95% of the stairs.
  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank Tina330
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 January 2012

We just got back 7 Days Jan 5th to 12th. Cannot say anything bad about this place. It's a small resort so if your used to and like the big resorts it's very different than that. The ride from the airport to hotel is only 45 minutes. Your already assigned rooms when you get on the bus which saves alot of time. We were originally booked 2 Villa rooms but once we saw the amount of walking involved we asked for something in the main hotl and were given 2 georgous ocean view junior suites on the 5th floor overlooking the atlantic ocean. What a view!! Rooms were huge with actual ADJOINING doors as we had requested since we have 3 children but thought for sure we woudnt get it. In Mexico adjoining doors are unheard of, you have to leave the one room, walk out onto hallway and open the door to the other room .. thats there idea of adjoing. Not at this HOTEL! The buffet breakfasts, lunch and dinner were all very good but a little repetive as expected. We went to all 3 alacartes and they were all very good especialy the seafood restaurant. There are 2 pools, one main one and a smaller one. Both very clean and actually refreshing ,,, unlike pools in Mexico during this month which are all ice cold. Staff are great, very friendly. Victor bartender makes great drinks. Omelette guy for breakfast is awesome .. throw him a few bucks it goes a long way. Shows at night were not great but if they have the Majic Show don't miss it .. the guy Fernando is awesome .. you wont beleive some of the stuff he does. We missed the Michael Jackson show which the kids would have probably liked. Other than relax at the resort theres very little to do. Going into town into Samana might be a little unpleasant we heard so we didnt bother. The beach is nice .. green in color and darker sand. Very small though.
We got Raymond from the beach to arrange transportation to/from BACARDI ISLAND which I highly recommend. We only spent 3 hours there but loved it. The beaches are amazing along with powdery white sand! Raymond got this one for us for $15/each return where as the hotel wanted $35/each. Mind you your on a small motorboat with limited lifejackets.
What else can I say .. we had a good quiet time here. I dont know If I would go back though .. I'm going to look into pricing the Grand Bahia Principe 5 Star on Bacardi Island.
Email me if you have any questions.

Room Tip: Junior Suites 3 - 5TH FLOORS all full ocean view.
  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled with family
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9  Thank stryker99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 January 2012

We went to this resort in January-February 2011 and it was amazing
We loved the food...the entertainment (: Elvis and Luis always had us laughing
We brought are 12 yrs daughter with us and she had a blast...the day we left she cried and didn't want to leave Elvis and Luis!! I would definitely recommend this resort
We have gone to Punta Cana and it was gorgeous but something about Samana just makes you feel at home...the resort was very different from Punta Cana very nice...lots of stairs though but a good workout
My daughter was the most impressed with the elevator to the beach...
We did 2 excursions and they were amazing...
1) cayo Leventado that beach was beyon words so pretty
2) we did the water fall an the horses that was fun!!! :P it was wonderful place
I highly recommend this resort and this excursion (:

  • Stayed: February 2011
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6  Thank Funinthesunchick88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 January 2012

Me and my partner stayed here in November 2011. The hotel is very beautiful and grand with nice surroundings and beautiful gardens and it is very clean. We had a lovely room with a seaview and a huge kingsize bed and we could see Bacardi Island from our room. The food was good however we found the Dalias buffet a little repetitive with the food and we also found that it was very focused on catering for the American Visitors! We used the quieter pool with the snack bar as it was handy to get something to eat rather than having to walk all the way up the lethal staircase back to the hotel when you wanted to get lunch. The main pool we found was very busy and noisy as we wanted to have relaxation time!
The service from the staff was very good at the hotel especially in the restaurants , and also the reception staff. We also ate in the other restaurants the a la carte restaurants,( A hint book them as soon as you arrive as they get very booked up quickly) I would especially reccomend the italian very nice food however the menu was slightly limited. The seafood restaurant was also very nice with excellent service. An excursion to Bacardi Island is highly reccommend as it is a beautiful island like paradise we went over and spent 4 hours there sunbathing and taking it all in dont forget your camera ! We also went to EL Limon waterfall on horseback. In my opinion this excursion was a little dangerous as you went through the jungle on horseback with a guide that hardly spoke any english whatsoever and then you had to walk to the waterfall and then walk back up many very steep rough stony hills, in the caribean heat that is not good. The trip was expensive and then to be told when you got there the guides didnt get paid and they relied on tips was very misleading on First choices behalf . Besides this it was worth a visit as you got to see a natural waterfall and it was beautiful, just a little risky. There is a private beach at the hotel however in the dom republic beaches are public and you get a lot of locals there at the weekends, A tip for the beach : Avoid it at the weekends as it is packed with locals and they will try and steal your posessions, however there are security guards on the beach. The great thing about the hotel and the beach is that there is a lift that takes you down to the beach from the main hotel. There are a lot of activites going on at the beach if you would want to join in. The evening entertainment starts at 10pm which is a good time you can have a nice meal and then go on to that. The magic show was fantastic so i would highly reccomend watching that Brilliant! The shows were good however some better than others! The weather was very hot the whole 2 weeks we were there however we did have quite a bit of rain in the first week , this is mainly due to their climate but we beached and sunned ourselves everyday. This is a pure R&R holiday leave your troubles backhome and eat drink and be merry and meet new friends we certainly did!

  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled as a couple
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11  Thank noonoos
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 January 2012

I went down with Air Canada Vacations and spent a week with a couple of friends. The hotel was excellent and exactly what I was expecting.

The room: we had a junior suite, it was a good size and had a balcony with a sea view. We spent very little time there, so it was just a place to use the safe and put our heads down at night.

The staff: all the staff was excellent. The service is very attentive and discreet. The animation staff is loads of fun and very friendly. Fernando and Adriana were nice and enthousiastic, yet genuine about it. At the pool bar, Christian was very cheerful. At the lobby bar, the staff was always friendly and swift, even though it was very busy. They never made mistakes despite the number of drinks they serve in a minute! Angel, Armando, Victor and Altagracia were very professionnal.

The activities: there were as many or as little as you want to participate in. The daily competitions in darts, archery, bingo and other things made the time go by so fast. Fernando organises the activities on the beach, that's where we spent most of our time. Lots of people participated and he was always very patient with everyone, even those who weren't good. I learned to play bocchi ball; that was fun!

The food: outstanding, if you compare it to Cuba! True, it wasn't always warm, but you could ask for all your meat to be grilled for you, so it was always fresh. As much variety as one could imagine: pasta, meat, veggies, fruit, desserts, "junk food" (ie, pizza, hamburgers etc), and thematic nights (canadian, dominican, italian, etc). We had 4 suppers in the restaurants, they were appreciated by my group. The italian restaurant was very good, excellent service from Edwin and Santos. The seafood restaurant was excellent. Julian went all out for us, decorating our table and had a bottle of wine waiting for us. We were so impressed!

Air Canada Vacations: Joel was condescending and not helpful. Some of the things he was saying are simply not true. The price he quotes for the excursions are disgustingly expensive and not the same as those listed on the ACV website. He had no interest in helping us find what we were looking for in town. Not sure what other guests saw in him. It is also obvious that he gets a cut from the places he recommends, so we didn't trust his advice. You can buy the same excursions in town for a quarter of the price. His French was poor - this matters for groups from Montreal!

Overall, we had a great time. The weather was very good (keep in mind though, Samana tends to be rainier and cloudier than other regions of the country), no one in my group was sick, the hotel is super clean and the food is good for a resort buffet. Try the Casita snack bar on Saturday and Sunday for a typical dominican rice and beans meal. Yummy.

Room Tip: Fifth floor had great views. In the villas, you have to take a little shuttle or walk 5-10 minutes to get to the main beach/pool/hotel area.
  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled with friends
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10  Thank mtrlgrl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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