Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators.
Families galore from several different continents take in the local wildlife.
Unlike at the subdued and adults-only Punta Cana Princess up the street, it's definitely babes and not books at this family-friendly resort. By babes, I mean kids ... and plenty of 'em. While most guests are Canadian families, there are also plenty of tourists from South America and Europe as well (though these guests come mostly during the summer months).
More outdoorsy than the neighboring Occidental Grand resort and perhaps twice its size, the Princess Bavaro is a maze of tangling pathways weaving through wild, tropical grounds. Flamingos, peacocks, , and even -- yep, a rooster actually might wake guests up in the morning -- wander aimlessly and unabashedly around the property, staring down the new arrivals. A bird sanctuary in a swath of mangrove forest is largely abandoned, with a couple of parrots and an eagle confined to sorry-looking cages hanging high above the swamp. Unsurprisingly, it's a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
At the end of the day, while it definitely isn't the five-star resort it claims to be, plenty of guests manage to have a good time. You just have to lower your expectations here: basic rooms, an uninspiring pool, and unexciting buffet restaurants. Still, the long, sandy beach is a beauty! Up the beach from the Occidental Grand, it's pretty much the same thing, though not quite as crowded.
Lots of tourist shops just off the premises -- and you won't have any trouble finding them, thanks to the zealous hawkers.
The Princess is 20 minutes from Punta Cana International Airport.
Sure, there are a few tourist stores out by the entrance, but it's kind of a ramshackle arrangement. The shopkeepers are quite persistent -- one step outside the hotel gates and you can expect a crowd offering you discounts and free gifts if only you visit their store.
Lots of foot traffic as tourists wind their way from neighboring resorts, but there's something for everyone.
The beach isn't quite as broad as the ones by Natura Park and the Gran Bahia Principe, but there's still plenty of space on the white sand and a busy mix of children and adults doing aerobics, playing volleyball, or just lounging in the sun.
The long beach winds past the neighboring Punta Cana Princess and Caribe Club Princess resorts, and down to the Occidental Grand on the other side. But while the beach by the Princess is certainly active, it's still easy to find a chair to lounge on -- unlike at the . As a result, there's a constant stream of tourists milling up and down the shoreline as they walk between properties. Kind of like rush hour in a city, but in a far superior setting.
The water and sand, however, are as clear and powdery (in that order) as everywhere else in Punta Cana. No complaints here!
Quirky room design makes for some weird arrangements. And depending on where your room is, mosquitos might be an issue.
The Bavaro Princess has two basic room types -- the junior suites in the hotel building or the villa suites grouped together in two-story cottages around the property. The villa suites are broken up into three further groups -- the Bungalow, Platinum, and Honeymoon Spa suites. All three are basically the same, though the Platinum suites come with special perks like one 40-minute complimentary massage per week, the ability to reserve a table at the a la carte restaurants by phone (instead of having to head over to guest services), and more. The Honeymoon Spa suite includes similar privileges, including nightly turndowns. The Bungalow suite rooms are the most common and cheapest room type at the Bavaro Princess.
Upon entering Bungalow suite through an utterly flimsy glass door guests are struck by one of the most original-looking rooms in the D.R. A tall room made up of two adjoining irregular polygons (for want of a better term), it might make guests feel like they are inside some crazy faceted jewel. Except that the buttercup- and papaya-colored walls and water-stained were a far cry from semiprecious.
The bed is a few steps up from the entrance. Though technically king-size, it doesn't have a king-size mattress. Rather, it's supported by two double-size mattresses shoved together, much like at the resorts. Still, it's relatively comfortable, and it's possible to get a good night's sleep despite the box springs and cheap, thin linens. Some junior suite bungalows have been painted and received new linens since Oyster's visit -- featuring off-white paint and sheets, the rooms are more modern but still generic.
The bathroom is down a couple of steps and through a slim corridor to the right of the bed. Here, the rooms most show their age -- obvious scratches on the shutters to the large , chipped paint on the walls. Still, the bathroom itself was well lit, and the angled mirrors by the sink are useful for surveying sunburn damage. A small past the sink hides the shower, toilet, and bidet. The shower has decent water pressure and a tub, but the cheap plastic shower curtain kind of kills the romance of terra-cotta-inspired tiles. Same goes with the toilet and bidet right by the tub -- not terribly sexy.
The "Hotel" -- a long, flat, two-story building with open-air hallways -- overlooks a medium-size pool. This pool is only used by guests in this part of the resort by default because everyone else heads to the much better main pool by the . All the rooms in the hotel section are junior suites and share the same floor plan. I checked them out, and though I wasn't able to take any pictures, they seem almost as large as the villa suites, with large bedrooms and terraces.
Mosquitoes have been known to plague guests occassionally in the area, so keeping any windows or balcony doors shut would probably be a good idea. And use bugspray. A lot of bugspray.
The Bavaro Princess is definitely a place for guests who like the outdoors. Flamingos, peacocks, , and rule the roost and can be seen strolling the lushly vegetated grounds day and night, without a care in the world for the kids trying to creep up on them. In fact, you'll see more avian action out in the open than at the Bird House, a collection of mostly -- barring a few containing bored parrots and a sheepish eagle -- in the middle of the swampland and mangrove forest that cut through the property. As mentioned previously, this swamp is prime breeding ground for mosquitos, but Dominican law forbids draining the water that sustains the mangroves.
While the beach attracts the biggest crowd, the pools are next up in popularity. The smaller but emptier pool hidden around the corner from the " " is only frequented by guests at the nearby Bungalow suites. With a bar at one end and plenty of space on the deck to take in some rays, this pool is much more relaxed than the one out by the beach. The resort's main pool, however, is all the way at the other end of the resort by the . A larger lagoon-shaped pool than the one by the Hotel, it also has many more kids splashing in the water, on stepping stones, or playing table tennis poolside. Adults, in the meantime, schmoozed at the swim-up bar or ambled over to the cabanas orbiting the pool for a massage.
But both pools are far less occupied than any others at neighboring resorts. In part, it's because the thick foliage overhead means that they never quite get a good amount of sun. The pools also look, well, a little tired -- the water was clean but never as sparkling as the inviting pools at, say, the neighboring Occidental Grand or Iberostar Bavaro.
Still, if the pools aren't quite up to par, the spa definitely is. Run by the Metamorphosis franchise -- just like the spas at the Occidental GrandOccidental Grand and Natura Park -- this outpost is by far the largest. A long stretch of rooms built around leafy courtyards, the spa includes a medium-size fitness room with a fairly comprehensive selection of cardio and weight-training equipment.
If outdoor exercise is more your kind of thing, head over to one of the tennis courts by the . The courts are well maintained, but look out! There's a for archery practice around the corner.
Over at the lobby, you can either use your own laptop to log into the resort's Wi-Fi (for a charge) or head to the bright, clean, and cheery , which isn't just a stuffy, crowded room for once. There are also several tourist stores to pick up knickknacks or jewelry. And in the evening, head out past the front desk to the semi-outdoors theater for everything from Bryan Adams covers to lip-synched re-enactments of "The Lion King."
Comes complete with aand from the lobby.
And finally, there's the Casino, right outside the gates to the Princess Bavaro -- you can either take the free shuttle over from the lobby or just walk straight out. Open only in the evenings, it's a massive space -- easily one of the largest in Punta Cana -- and even has a dance club named "Lancelot Discotheque."
Cribs and rollaway beds are free at the Princess, and rooms are definitely large enough to accommodate them.
There are a lot of families here, perhaps because of the opportunity for children to get up close to the peacocks and flamingos that casually stroll around the property. A kids' club is open throughout the day, with art- and theater-based activities for 4- to 11-year-olds.
Parents can also take the kids to tennis and lessons or have the whole family join in on group aerobics on the beach. And if you want to take your little ones to the pool, no problem -- a store by the lobby sells floating devices.
In the evening, nightly entertainment often features sing- and dance-alongs for the whole family where kids can get up onstage. And when you finally find the time to sit down and eat, kid-friendly menus and high chairs galore means everyone can sit at the table.
However, the Princess is a very large property with a swamp right in the middle, so definitely keep a close eye on children.
The place could use a bit of sprucing up -- rooms have had , scratches, and somebody else's in them.
Cleanliness is definitely not the Princess Bavaro's strong suit. Besides theon the room's ceiling, there were milling around the and all sorts of crud -- dirt, hair, rubber bands, chewing gum wrappers, and scrunchies -- behind the . A difficult spot to get to considering the room's configuration, but management should have thought twice before putting the bed in the V between two walls.
The rest of the room showed the resort's obvious age, with broken socket covers, unused wires dangling where lamps had once been, and scratches on practically every wooden surface. It's too bad, because the room's imaginative layout could have really made it memorable ... for the right reasons.
Not bad but not good either. The buffet restaurant Hispaniola seems pretty exciting until you realize that the rows upon rows of are really just the same five dishes repeated over and over. Still, it does have a and even an " " with pizzas and burgers. Some reports of food poisoning, but these happen often in the D.R. (usually because of the non-potable water.)
The beachside El Gaucho serves up a buffet breakfast and lunch but turns into an a la carte restaurant for dinner.
The McPrincess burger and hot dog stand is open throughout the day, right next to the Chiringo bar. The is the closest eating alternative to , with coffee, tea, and pastries served throughout the day alongside bahama mamas and dark-and-stormy cocktails.
Further inland, you'll find Chopin, a continental "gourmet" buffet restaurant with -- you guessed it -- a piano bar, sandwiched between the "Oriental" (does that mean Chinese?) and Japanese Tanuki restaurants.
Finally, in a star-shaped building floating in the middle of a lake by theis . Yes, that's actually what it's called. This restaurant, however, is not included in the all-inclusive fee. So you'll have to not only reserve a table in advance but also pay for each item you order.
Unlike the Punta Cana Princess, the Bavaro Princess is packed with kids, from toddlers to teens. With fantastic gardens overflowing with wildlife, a castle-shaped casino, and one of Punta Cana's largest spas, the Princess has a lot of potential. But worn, dingy rooms disappoint despite their interesting design. And the lackluster staff leaves much to be desired.