Bahia Principe San Juan Rating: 2.5 Pearls
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

Cons

  • Crowded pool area (hard to snag a lounger)
  • Worse buffet than most all-inclusives in the D.R.
  • Old, worn rooms
  • Platform beds have limited back support
  • Located far from any off-site activities or attractions
  • 50-minute cab ride from Puerto Plata airport

Bottom Line

Attracting party-focused youngsters in search of pre-noon cocktails, the Bahia Pricipe San Juan is one of the liveliest (i.e., loudest) all-inclusives in the D.R. It’s in the middle of nowhere, so guests stay on-site -- drinking begins early at the swim-up bar and ends at the disco or the karaoke bar. The rooms are worn, but fine for passing out.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

A few older folks and families, but life here is designed for the young and well lubricated.

Guests playing games in the pool
Guests playing games in the pool

Picture Richard Simmons yelling at a herd of dozing sea lions: "OK, people! Siesta is over. It's time to party!" A member of the Bahia’s activity staff actually yelled this into his microphone while passed-out masses lounged by the pool. Slowly they began to rise, despite their obvious inebriation, and the inspired staff member was soon leading a rowdy game of pop-the-other-person's-balloon. Tourists blew up balloons and then ... started popping each other's. There was splashing, there was chaos, there was beer -- just another afternoon at the Bahia Principe San Juan.

Of all the all-inclusive resorts along the Dominican North Coast, the Bahia Principe San Juan is definitely the loudest and drunkest -- which is saying a lot. While there were many older couples and families, the younger travelers stole the show and kept the party going all day and all night. Guests looking for nightlife, however, might consider staying at resorts near Cabarete, where the scene is a bit more lively and diverse.

 Location

Surrounded by North Coast resorts and not much else.

The resort is located about 70 minutes from the Puerto Plata airport. The Gran Bahia Principe San Juan is located on the resort-saturated North Coast of the Dominican Republic, in the small city of San Juan. There's not much around the resort and nothing in San Juan worth venturing off the grounds for. The lively kite-surfing beach town Cabarete is about 50 minutes away. The hotel offers daily transfers to it as well as to the beach town Sosua. Ask the concierge for details.

 Beach

Big beach with soft sand, although obstructed by erosion-battling sandbags.

Anti-erosion measures on the beach
Anti-erosion measures on the beach

The beach is still large, but part of it is eroding. The hotel has instilled anti-erosion measures, but this means plastic bags are coming out of the sand on parts of the beach. There's also a line of giant sandbags placed just off the beach -- they kind of look like giant rock formations. Guests swim out to them and climb on top. This obviously isn't the most attractive beach in the D.R., but it's so big that there's plenty of room for guests to find other spots to lounge in unobstructed sand.

 Rooms

Clean and unexceptional, with old furniture and a nice ceiling.

The Standard Room
The Standard Room

The floral-print room at the Bahia San Juan was obviously worn but still fairly clean. The rooms are fairly small, but the vaulted ceiling made them seem a little bigger.

All rooms come with platform beds -- no box springs -- so they’re tolerable but not entirely comfortable.

The air conditioner worked, technically, but it only kept about half of the room cold.

In the bathroom the shower was chipped and cracked and showed signs of wear. The window in the shower, with a shutter, looked out onto the deck walkway. Noise from the hall easily echoed into the room. Outlets are scarce.

The mini-fridge comes stocked with the basics -- two beers, two sodas, and a large bottle of water -- all of which were free.

The balcony is small, but looks out on the beach and the water.

 Features

Wild pool scene until the evening, when the wild scene relocates.

The large pool has a sloped entry, like a beach, where lots of little kids splash around in the shallow water. Lounge chairs get snatched up early, and by mid-afternoon there don't seem to be any left. The pool area empties around 6 p.m. as guests head to their rooms and get ready for the night.

 Evening Entertainment

A full-blown street party breaks out every night, with drinks and great music.

The house band
The house band

At night the long driveway is closed down and tables and chairs are set up in the street in front of the casino. A live band performs at what becomes a full-blown street party, with drinks service. When I was there, guests formed a conga line and got down before disappearing into the disco and karaoke bar for late-night debauchery. And the band was really good. This is a rarity in the Dominican Republic. Since the street party is far from the resort, guests who want to go to bed early don't have to listen to all the fun they're missing.

 Food

Quantity way over quality at the buffets, and drinks are a do-it-yourself affair.

Cocktails
Cocktails

Food at the Bahia Principe San Juan was pretty average. The dinner buffet at Brisa was typical for Dominican Republic all-inclusives, which is to say pretty terrible. The food is better designed for drunken gorging, not elaborate, candle-lit cuisine. Due to the sheer size of the Bahia Principe San Juan, though, there is a lot to choose from.

The buffet had a decent salad bar, numerous entrees, and even multiple vegetarian options. It's easy to grab food, sit down, and be totally ignored by the wait staff. Most guests grab their own drinks -- there are beer and even (very classy) wine taps. Or you can just make sure to tell a member of the wait staff that you're sitting down. Don't assume they'll come to you.

On offer on the restaurant front are El Rincón Tex-Mex, Orquídea for Mediterranean flair and El Chiringuito for Italian.

 Cleanliness

Usually pretty clean, but the rooms definitely show their age.

The resort is generally kept clean, but it’s an old property clearly abused by the party-hearty clientele. Groundskeepers can be seen trimming bushes and the property looked pretty good. Rooms are worn but essentially clean. There was also plenty of soap and shampoo in the bathroom.

 Bottom Line

Attracting party-focused youngsters in search of pre-noon cocktails, the Bahia Pricipe San Juan is one of the liveliest (i.e., loudest) all-inclusives in the D.R. It’s in the middle of nowhere, so guests stay on-site -- drinking begins early at the swim-up bar and ends at the disco or the karaoke bar. The rooms are worn, but fine for passing out.

Things You Should Know About Bahia Principe San Juan

Address

  • Carretera Gaspar Hernndez Km. 18, Puerto Plata, DO

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Bahia Principe
  • Bahia Principe Dominican
  • Bahia Principe Dominican Republic
  • Bahia Principe Puerto Plata
  • Bahia Principe San Juan Dominican Republic
  • Bahia Principe San Juan Puerto Plata
  • Bahia Principe San Juan Resort
  • Dominican Republic Bahia Principe
  • San Juan Dominican Republic

Room Types

  • Standard Room

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 941
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Kids Club: Yes
Casino: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Address: Carretera Gaspar Hernndez Km. 18, Puerto Plata, DO
(See Map)
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