Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A moderate price tag draws families as well as party people to this 350-room section of a three-mega-resort complex.
Partially renovated in 2008, this nearly decade-old Spanish resort is a little bit more quaint-looking compared with many of the resorts along the coast. The resort lies at the center of a three-resort complex. On one side is the Punta Cana Princess, the adults-only section, and the other is the Bavaro Princess, chock full of kids of all ages.
The winding footpath at the center of the Caribe Club Princess is lined with government-protected mangrove trees. Black Gallareta birds with bright red beaks waddle along, and sometimes fight with one another. Arriving guests fight to get their luggage on one of the overcrowded golf carts and make it from lobby to their rooms. Hotel staff says this resort never gets super-crowded and the service reflects this--usually prompt but a little lackadaisical.
Popular with European and Canadian families, the lobby is filled with kids between the colorful sofas, large, cast-iron and seashell sculptures, and fountains. The lobby bar, stocked with name-brand booze (unlike most resorts) is a busy spot, serving up fresh Dominican coffee in the morning, and daiquiris, margaritas, and other tonics in the evenings. Of course, many of the more enthusiastic vacationers skip their morning coffee and go straight for a tropical drink, just after breakfast.
Situated along a densely populated section of the D.R.’s most famous coast, only 25 minutes from Punta Cana International Airport.
Caribe Club Princess is located in Bavaro, a neighboring village to Punta Cana. Over time--with the proliferation of resorts in the area--Bavaro has come to be considered a part of Punta Cana, at least for tourism’s sake. Caribe Club Princess is one of several resorts located on the nearly 10-mile stretch of Bavaro Beach, which is one of the most beautiful in Punta Cana, and the most beautiful in the D.R.
The beach has soft white sand and is generally very clean, with plenty of kids on boogie boards and frolicking adults taking advantage of the waves. A lifeguard is on duty during peak swimming times, an appreciated bonus for parents. For calmer waters, check out the resorts in La Romana.
The beach is just out the door from the guest room buildings and close to all eateries. At other mega-resorts, like the Gran Bahia, the beach is often a long walk, if not a shuttle ride away.
The Caribe Club Princess beach is flanked by the two more upscale neighboring sections of the resort--Punta Cana Princess and Bavaro Princess--both of which feature fancy VIP . Guests of Caribe Club Princess don’t get the canopies, but they do get plenty of blue lounge chairs and shady thatched huts. Unlike many all-inclusives, finding an available lounge chair is rarely a problem.
Disappointing and dirty, rooms here are not fit for a princess (or anyone else).
Most guests complain about the rooms. The two full-size beds or one king bed in the standard rooms are typically saggy. The standard tube TVs only get about a half-dozen English channels clearly, as well as two porn channels that are very fuzzy (but viewers, even children, would likely be able to gather the content).
Tawdry TV aside, the main problem with the rooms at Caribe Club Princess is cleanliness. Numerous guests complain about the filth. Several of the surfaces are dusty, the coverlet on the bed is dirty, and the beneath is pilling and also not so clean. The bathroom towels have faded to off-white. In general, the bathroom could have used an extra scrub. The more squeamish wouldn’t want to step foot in the bathroom without a pair of flip-flops.
There are two free-form pools at Caribe Club Princess, both of which have Jacuzzis. The noise level at the pool is generally kept to moderate except when it is time for the animation staff to round up guests for salsa lessons or bingo. The pools are located close to the guest-room buildings and the beach, which makes it easy to get around the property. Given the high-drinking population, there are plenty of plastic cups surrounding the pool deck by the end of the day.
The fitness center has modern equipment and is certainly serviceable enough. Next door is the Metamorphosis Spa, a chain of Dominican spas well-known for decent service at good prices. The chocolate body exfoliation treatment is a crowd favorite.
There’s on-site miniature golf, , , and , as well as two tennis courts. Souvenir shops, as well as a small convenience store selling toiletries and snacks, are next to the main lobby. On the same strip, there is also a cute, white, steepled church with eight pews that hosts several weddings throughout the year.
Average kids' and teens' clubs, a well-trafficked , and plenty of kid-friendly food--a good, not great family pick.
Both cribs and roll-away beds are available to guests at no extra charge. But, in these dingy rooms, the TVs feature two channels of porn. Though the reception is bad and it is not audible, it is likely to make parents uncomfortable.
The entertainment staff is sometimes lackadaisical, though the nightly shows and disco provide plenty of evening fun.
By the pool, there’s nonstop activities like salsa dancing and bingo. The entertainment staff, dressed in blue-and-gold uniforms, did their best to keep the tipsy guests busy, though at times they seemed less enthused than the entertainment staff at resorts like the Iberostar Punta Cana and Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana.
There are nightly shows in the main theater, which include the same glittery costumes, lip-synced musicals, and dance performances as there are at most all-inclusives. For example, a gothic-themed show in which the entire oeuvre of “Phantom of the Opera” was staged in full regalia and followed by a Michael Jackson impersonator doing the moonwalk.
After the shows, many guests head over to the late-night disco.
Many guests are unimpressed with the cleanliness of the rooms, which range from mildly dusty to downright disgusting. Among the many tales of woe, there are reports of cockroaches, foul stenches, excessive dust, and dirty towels and bed sheets.
The buildings and grounds are in good shape, though you can spot a large abundance of plastic cups, leftover snacks, and paper plates strewn poolside in the late afternoon.
However, prevalence of bugs and dirty rooms really put a damper on things. There are mangroves at the center of the resort--therefore swampy grounds--which means plenty of creepy crawlies, particularly mosquitoes. Elio Vasquez, who works for quality control at the resort, explained that mosquitoes show up when there too many rains. Normally, the staff sprays the mangroves on a weekly basis, but at times of high rain, they spray them every day just to keep the situation under control.
The spacious Higuero Buffet has a great deal of variety and serves plenty of fresh fruit and veggies--a considerable upgrade from many all-inclusives. Breakfast has made-to-order , omelets, and . Lunch and dinner have expansive salad bars, several hot bars serving American and Dominican specialties, at least four kinds of freshly made pizza, and a made-to-order .
The resort has five à la carte restaurants--Mexican, Asian, and Italian, seafood and "gourmet." The latter two are not included in the all-inclusive package. Reservations must be made a day in advance. The food is nothing spectacular, but the service is sound.
Name-brand liquor is included in the all-inclusive package, and there’re plenty of places to booze it up.
All bars, for the most part, serve name-brand liquor and local beer. There are plenty of spots to get a drink--from the refined lobby bar to the swim-up bar to a beachside spot, perfect for sipping a piña colada while digging your toes in the sand.
Located on one of the D.R.’s most popular white-sand beaches, the Caribe Club has decent food, decent pools, decent kids’ activities, and better-than-average, name-brand liquor at the bars--a big-plus for the party-hearty clientele. It’s decent, not great, especially when it comes to the rooms: sagging mattresses, dingy bathrooms, and sometimes bugs.