Catalonia Bavaro Beach - All Inclusive Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Oyster Review Summary

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Pros

Cons

Bottom Line

At 700 rooms, the Catalonia is one of the D.R.'s largest mega-resorts. It's fun, and roomy enough that guests can party at the big pool or lounge quietly at the beach. Rooms are big, too, each with a Jacuzzi tub, but food options, as at so many Dominican all-inclusives, are not great.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

One of the D.R.'s biggest resorts, with lots to do and plenty of partyers; a little quiet on the beach still isn't too hard to find.

Lively pool atmosphere
Lively pool atmosphere

The Catalonia Bavaro Beach resort is a sprawling, 770-room resort -- that's about as big as a single resort can get in the D.R. The big rooms are divided among squat, two-story buildings. Fish ponds surround the lobby, with the intention of providing a natural vibe. But the fish ponds have scum on them and the rarely used daybeds in the lobby area are dirty, so it's not all that inviting. It's not all bad, though -- the streams and ponds attract wildlife and the grounds appear lush and natural, at least more so than at resorts like the Majestic Elegance.

The pool scene is pretty lively (read: noisy). It's typical for games or other activities to be going on, such as the race Oyster saw during its stay that began with push-ups and ended in a rigorous lap. The activities staff member, speaking through a microphone, joked that the winner would receive his sister. The sunburned guests roared with laughter -- it's a pretty lighthearted place. Likewise, indoor spaces become havens for partygoers, such as at El Palmeral bar. One woman casually leaned over the bar during our visit and refilled her own beer glass about five times in a row from the Presidente tap while the bartender casually looked on. "Serve yourself some fun," she said. This kind of no-frills self-sufficiency is extremely rare at an all-inclusive, but it bodes well for the laid-back nature of things. Guests treat the place like they own it, and the staff seems to play along, responding only when called upon.

Alternatively, the beach is peaceful and calm. No loud music, just a bunch of people reading and occasionally heading for the beach bar for beverages. There's no drink service on the beach, but the beach bar just steps away. The beach is topless, like many resorts in the D.R., but expect to see lots of mothers wading with their children -- this is not the Playboy Mansion.

Still, while the Catalonia lacks the full-on party vibe of the Barcelo, it isn't nearly as tranquil as, say, the Excellence Punta Cana. Sanctuary Cap Cana may be a better option. The Riu Palace Macao is a similar price and vibe as the Catalonia Bavaro Beach.

 Location

A 25-minute taxi from Punta Cana International Airport on Bavaro Beach in Punta Cana.

Catalonia Bavaro is in Bavaro, a neighboring village to Punta Cana. Over time Bavaro has come to be considered a part of Punta Cana, at least for the sake of tourism.

 Beach

The beach is wide, so there's plenty of room to find a quiet space. But there are lots of people, and beach games like volleyball are popular.

Clear-water beachstrip
Clear-water beachstrip

At the beach, the water is calm and clear, and the swimming area is pretty shallow. Some guests snorkel around the swimming area, but there isn't that much to see -- a few fish, but no coral. In the morning, staff members come by to rake up what little seaweed washes up on the beach, and the area is generally well kept.

The beach is a quieter, more relaxing scene than at the pool. The wide stretch of sand offers guests lounge chairs and plenty of places to lay out, and there are a bunch of palm trees or mini palapas umbrellas for shade. There's a beach bar, but no drink service. In the afternoon, a game of volleyball might pick up, and the activity staff also runs archery lessons on the beach.

The beach is private and only guests from the neighboring sister property Royal Catalonia Bavaro are allowed to use the beach. There's also a standard water-sports shack with boats and toys.

 Rooms

Clean but dated rooms with big Jacuzzis and great balconies.

Towel artistry in the Junior Suite Bathroom
Towel artistry in the Junior Suite Bathroom

The suites are relatively clean and spacious, with wicker furniture and red tile floors. There were no noticeable odors, and the air conditioner worked great. The safe was new, free, and easy to use.

There are two kinds of rooms at Catalonia, junior suites and presidential suites. The junior suite is right on the beach, in Building 1. Buildings 11-18 and 29-32 are near the lobby, the furthest from the beach. All the other buildings are in the middle of the grounds, an equal distance from the beach to the lobby. Buildings 1-6 or 18-20 are the quietest, if merely because of their distance from the all-day pool jams.

In all rooms, "king beds" are actually two twin beds pushed together, each with separate sheets. Sleeping with a wedge in the center of the bed is a bit odd but is actually fairly common in the Caribbean, and common practice at such resorts as the Riu. The mattresses are firm, but they sag a little. The bedding is basic: two pillows and clean linens that don't come with a high thread count.

Rooms have Panasonic flat-screen TVs, which get a good number of English-speaking stations. Of the 80 total channels, the sound faltered on a few of them, but most, especially the Spanish-speaking channels, worked fine.

Bathrooms get the full honeymoon treatment -- complete with a pair of kissing towel swans and flowers placed around the Jacuzzi, which is big enough for two. Sounds fancy, but this is fairly common at any resort. What's not common, however, are the bathrobes. The shower is fairly small, and because the floor is flat, it doesn't drain completely. You'll end up with some puddles -- a minor annoyance. Bath products are a basic generic brand.

The minibar comes stocked with the basics: Brahma beer, 7-Up, and Pepsi. There were more water bottles than what's offered at most all-inclusives -- three bottles in the fridge and two more next to the coffeemaker. Even better, all the contents are free.

The balcony comes with a hammock -- a nice, rarely seen touch. As at most resorts, there's no screen door, so because of bugs you can't leave the door open at night to hear the ocean.

 Features

Big, rowdy pool with a swim-up bar, but expect to compete for a lounger. There's also a fitness center, but the equipment is pretty old.

Watersports on the beach
Watersports on the beach

The pool is large, with an island in the middle. Lounge chairs around its edge get snatched up quickly, so most guests wake up early and reserve their place by the pool for the day. At the pool, you're likely to find guests drinking as soon as the bar opens, and by early afternoon there's a lot of action going on -- aqua aerobics class, organized pool sports, and lots of loud music. Not a very relaxing space, but it's fun. There's also a swim-up bar.

In the fitness center, the equipment is old, and the space is tucked in behind the lobby area -- so much for ocean views. Instead it has big glass windows, allowing everyone who walks by a glimpse of you sweating.

 Golf

Two nearby golf courses, but neither is very impressive.

Two golf courses are available for guests, neither of which is world-class. One is right on the property, and another is a five-minute drive away. On site is a nine-hole course. The 18-hole course's green fees includes the cost of a golf cart. Clubs can also be rented. The courses are not stellar, and the prices reflect that. If a cheap round on the links, just for fun, is your thing, either are decent options. But for golf enthusiaists, hotels with better golf include Punta Cana Hotel or Casa de Campo (home to the Pete Dye course, Teeth of the Dog).

 Family

Tons of activities for kids -- as at most mega-resorts.

Kids playing table tennis
Kids playing table tennis

The hotel has a kids club, babysitting services, and cribs.

There are daily supervised activities that attract kids and and their parents -- like archery lessons on the beach. The activities staff is very active and good at getting guests involved in various games. There are also tennis courts and golf, and of course there's the beach and a kids pool.

The main buffet and the beachside buffet have a lot of kid-friendly options, like hot dogs and fries.

 Cleanliness

Clean rooms, but the rest of the resort could use some attention.

The rooms are kept clean, and housekeeping comes by promptly in the morning. But the rest of the hotel is not as well kept. The daybeds by the lobby have stains and look dirty and poorly maintained. Empty glasses are strewn about as well.

Around the pool, after the major activity (like drinking) winds down, there are usually a lot of cups and towels left scattered around. But by morning, the place is cleaned up.

 Food

Typical D.R. all-inclusive fare, which is to say, not great.

Gran Caribe Restaurant
Gran Caribe Restaurant

Like most Dominican all-inclusives, the food isn't great. Rice and salad are staples at the buffet because everything else looks slightly questionable. The cooked hamburger patties -- sitting on a platter for who knows how long -- aren't appetizing. At least the fries are good. The one bright spot of the buffet is the cured meat and cheese table, available at lunch and dinner. There's also a panini press so you can make yourself a sandwich.

During the day, in addition to the buffet, guests also have a few poolside options like La Palapa, which serves the same offerings as the buffet, plus snacks like hot dogs or chicken nuggets.

For dinner, guests can reserve a table at one of seven different a la carte restaurants, including the Japanese Mikado, the Rodeo steak house, La Toscana, serving Italian fare, and Mariachi, a Mexican restaurant. All are probably better options than the buffet, which, like most D.R. buffets, is worth avoiding.

At the buffet, it's important to let your server know that you're sitting down. Otherwise, you can end up waiting for some time for silverware or drinks.

 Drinks

Free name-brand booze -- assuming the bar doesn't run out of it.

Pool swim-up bar
Pool swim-up bar

Name-brand booze like J&B scotch is included in the all-inclusive package, but some bars might not always have the good stuff handy as the bars can run out. This is slightly made up for by the amusing bartender, who spins and juggles bottles in the air. Avoid ordering anything too specific, though -- it's best just to go with the drink of the day.

 Destination Weddings

This all-inclusive resort offers standard wedding package fare, but with fewer options (though less hassle) than some of its neighbors.

La Palapa beachside restaurant, one of the possible reception locations
La Palapa beachside restaurant, one of the possible reception locations
  • Wedding Size: Up to 150 people
  • Extra Fees: day pass and/or a night pass required for all wedding guests not staying at the resort
  • Wedding Packages: The basic, Caribbean Souls package (for 20 people) includes a wedding coordinator, a two-tier cake, a bouquet and a boutonniere, recorded music during the ceremony, four bottles of sparkling wine, hair and nail treatment for the bride, a 25-minute couples massage for the bride and groom, and a dinner along with all of the other resort guests in one of the a la carte restaurants. The deluxe package also includes flower decorations at the ceremony and a beachfront dinner for the bride and groom. The basic wedding package is free if the wedding party books 20 guest rooms (double occupancy) for five nights each. Renewal-of-vows packages also available.
  • Ceremony Location: On the beach, in the garden, or in a conference room (in case of rain)
  • Photographers: Packages range, but start at just the ceremony and/or cocktail reception (includes 25 5-by-7 prints and a CD).
  • Music: A DJ or "tropical trio" band during the reception for a fee per hour
  • Spa Treatments: The Alegria spa offers couples massages and bridal treatments, as well as regular massages, facials, and hair, nail, and makeup treatments.
  • Honeymoon Suite: Most newlyweds stay in the Honeymoon Junior Suite, which includes a Jacuzzi tub.
  • Airport Transportation: The resort does not provide an airport shuttle; guests will have to take a 30-minute taxi.

 Bottom Line

At 700 rooms, the Catalonia is one of the D.R.'s largest mega-resorts. It's fun, and roomy enough that guests can party at the big pool or lounge quietly at the beach. Rooms are big, too, each with a Jacuzzi tub, but food options, as at so many Dominican all-inclusives, are not great.

Things You Should Know About Catalonia Bavaro Beach - All Inclusive

Address

  • Playa Bavaro Higuey, Punta Cana

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Catalonia Bavaro
  • Catalonia Bavaro Beach Golf & Casino Resort
  • Catalonia Bavaro Beach Golf Casino Resort
  • Catalonia Bavaro Beach Hotel
  • Catalonia Bavaro Beach, Casino & Golf Resort
  • Catalonia Bavaro Punta Cana
  • Catalonia Bavaro Resort
  • Catalonia Punta Cana
  • Punta Cana Catalonia
  • Punta Cana Catalonia Bavaro

Room Types

  • Junior Suite
  • Presidential Suite
  • Suite

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Catalonia Royal Bavaro
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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 711
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Internet Access: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Kids Club: Yes
Casino: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Address: Playa Bavaro Higuey, Punta Cana
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