Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A huge, beachfront resort
The Dominican Beach resort is the more casual and therefore lesser-priced area of the entire Barcelo complex. Lines are common during check-in (don't expect early check-ins here) and the front desk staff -- many who do not speak fluent English -- will get through the line at a relaxed pace, and yet fail to explain anything about the resort. The lobby is a big, breezy space with high ceilings. In between a day at the beach and dinner, guests tend to gather in the cozy lobby bar for drinks.
By the time check-in occurs at 3 p.m., the lunch buffet is closed and there's nothing available until dinner time that evening. Guests can hit the snack bar at the beach for a small bite -- don't expect to eat healthy here. Since it will be too late to make a reservation at one of the a la carte restaurants (3 p.m. is the cutoff time), there is no choice but to eat at the buffet for the first night.
Though it does attract families and couples, it is perhaps best suited for those in search of a relaxed party crowd and ability to mix and mingle.
A part of the Barcelo complex on Bavaro Beach -- about 30 minutes from the airport
The area of Bavaro is about a 30-minute drive from Punta Cana airport. Visitors here typically stay within the resort premises, as there isn't much else in the immediate area. The resort, like all neighboring resorts along the coast here, faces east for spectacular sunrises. The beaches along this northern stretch of the coast generally see much stronger waves and have steeper drop off than those to the south in Punta Cana.There are many identical buildings around the property -- about 700 units -- and the property can often feel like a maze. It's not uncommon to get lost. Without a regular tram service, guests can expect to do some walking, but not as much as other resorts, given the absence of a mangrove area between the lobby and beach (found at many neighboring resorts).
A range of room types, but do not expect luxury, even in the Elite Club status
There are over 700 rooms spread out in three-story buildings (no elevators) that wind around the three pools and a few shallow ponds and gardens with walking bridges. The Elite Club status section of rooms is closer to the beach, and many of the balconies do have partial if not full glimpses of the turquoise sea. Luxurious, though, it is not. The rooms in this section, like the rest of the property, are showing wear and tear and have some maintenance issues, especially in the bathrooms. The resort has upgraded to white duvets from old patterned bedspreads. Tube televisions in many of the room types are still present, but rooms have coffeemakers and mini-fridges with bottled water, sodas, and a few snacks. The largest unit is a Family Suite, which can expand to two full bedrooms and two bathrooms and sleep up to five people.
Beautiful beach and three pools
The resort's biggest strength is its excellent beach location. The beach during peak time can get pretty crowded with beach chairs, live music, groups of young people seated in circles and drinking beer, and a beach volleyball court. There is a quieter area of beach where people can nap in peace, closer to the water sports area. Three pools and two hot tubs break up the large property, and the main pool complex, is closer to the beach, fitness center, snack bar, and outdoor massage hut. This pool has its own bar and swim-up option.
The resort is not going to impress gourmands with its food and drink program -- nor should guests expect any sort of quality wine -- but there are three buffets, seven a la carte restaurants, and seven bars (times vary). Options include Italian (Roman-style), Mexican, Brazilian, Japanese and seafood, thought guests need to make reservations before 3 p.m., and are only allowed to eat at one restaurant each per trip. If staying for longer than a week, this could become problematic.
Nightlife usually starts in the Amigo lobby bar and nearby sports bar, which is adjacent to the open-air theater for live nightly shows. Unlike other resorts where the shows change every night for two weeks straight, this performance might stay the same for days. After the show, guests can continue drinking with each other at a few bars that close around 1 a.m., and then hit the late night disco.
With over 700 rooms in this section alone, the Dominican Beach all-inclusive property (the cheapest in the Barcelo lot) is perhaps best suited for a young, party crowd -- think international groups and spring breakers. Food and beverage options are impressive in number -- seven bars, seven a la carte restaurants, and three buffets -- but not impressive in quality. There are three pools and a lovely white-sand beach studded with palm trees, though outside vendors can be a nuisance. Rooms are basic and bright with white linens and nice-sized terraces but there is a fee for Wi-Fi and it can be a challenge to connect.