Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Exclusive to adults (18+), Catalonia Royal Bavaro's most striking feature is its silence -- a rare luxury among the vast majority of all-inclusive resorts in the D.R. or elsewhere. The absence of children, a late-night disco, poolside speakers, or on-site entertainment make it considerably quieter, even at the bar.
The large lobby's modern furniture and large glass windows give it a cool, uncommonly sleek vibe -- this is no palapa hut on the beach. The upscale environment and friendly front desk staff make it feel every bit an elegant, modern hotel.
Beyond the lobby, guests wearing beach kaftans, designer sunglasses, and polo shirts relax on the restaurant patio. Pathways are quiet, with only the occasional couple meandering toward the beach or their rooms. The guests here are more likely to sip a mojito poolside than to stumble into their rooms at 2 a.m.
Guests may, of course, find themselves bored. Catalonia Bavaro Beach is just a short walk or golf cart ride away, and access to all of its entertainment and facilities is included. In a sense, this allows guests to enjoy two types of vacations: one serene, one raucous.
Catalonia Bavaro Beach's property is shared with guests of Catalonia Royal Bavaro (though not vice versa). It is a short walk or free shuttle ride away, and access to its beach, pools, activities, restaurants, and bars is free.
It's located in Punta Cana, which technically refers to the area extending southeast from Punta Cana airport. The beaches along this southern stretch of the coast are generally calmer and shallower than those to the north along Bavaro. Finding things to do in the area is difficult: Resorts are at least a 30-minute taxi ride from towns like Friusa and Bavaro, where a limited number of restaurants and nightclubs allow locals and tourists a change of pace from the dominant presence of resorts and poorly maintained roads.
The small stretch of beach reserved for Catalonia Royal is about a five-minute walk from the lobby and pools. It's slightly separated from the rest of Catalonia's beach by a few shrubs and trees, and guests of the Royal have access to both beaches. There are no gates that separate the beach from the significantly dirtier public beach, just beyond the property.
The beach's shallow, clear blue water was calm and quiet when I visited. Kayakers and windsailers slid across the water as guests strolled along the soft sands. A moderate amount of seaweed dotted the shore, but not to the point of offense. Beaches at the resorts further north in Punta Cana typically had less seaweed, but much larger waves and rougher water.
Water sports, including kayaks and catamarans, are conveniently located at the border of the Royal and Beach properties' beaches.
Large and clean, the standard Junior Superior Suite rooms come with a lounge area, a king-size canopy bed, and a spacious patio featuring a standard table and pair of chairs. Junior Superior Suite configurations vary little: The main difference, according to management, is simply the location on the property. Newer rooms include the Junior Deluxe Suites as well as Honeymoon Suites and a Presidential Suite.
In the Junior Superior Suite, the king-size canopy bed was comfortable, clean, and simply made with pristine white sheets and a light blanket folded at the foot of the bed. There's no down comforter or extra pillow options, but the Dominican climate hardly calls for them. The super-soft mattress and fluffy pillows provided are a cut above most Dominican resort beds, anyhow.
None of the buildings on the property face the beach. Most (including mine) face the resort's pathways, other buildings, or the pool. The rooms still feel relatively private, but their location means you can't sleep to the sound of waves against the shore.
Bathrooms are set in a warm marble, and feature a spacious stand-up shower with wooden panels on the floor. A large Jacuzzi is placed between the bathroom and main room. Despite its upscale look, the toiletry set is still a very basic tray of generic bottles and tiny packets, like at most all-inclusives.
The large, flat-screen Audiovox TV received good service from several channels, mostly in English and Spanish. Rooms had nconsistent Wi-Fi access, and the signal is only available in some rooms. Still, it's free if you happen to get it -- a rare find among Dominican resorts.
The main pool is central to the rest of the hotel. Guests frequently walk past it, the lobby and restaurant decks look out onto it, yet it's still quiet and feels private. It has a swim-up bar and whirlpools, but compared to the main pool at the Catalonia Bavaro Beach, it's not raucous. The second pool is smaller and offers a great spot to work on a tan, take a dip, and finish an airplane book (or two). Couples and small groups vacationing together stick to themselves and enjoy each others' company. Beach towels are provided in the room and replaced daily, saving the trouble of towel cards and towel stands.
The clean, Alegria spa provides free access to its steam room, sauna, Jacuzzis, and showers. Massages and other spa services are also available, for an extra cost.
The air-conditioned gym is somewhat small, but contains various cardio and weight equipment. Most floor-to-ceiling windows face the pool and brighten the room, and large flat-screen TVs make it a pleasant workout environment. Cold water and juices are provided.
Other features are located on the shared sister resort, Catalonia Bavaro Beach.
Adults-only, no kids.
Rooms, including the bathrooms, are clean. Grounds are well-manicured, and were clear of trash. Likewise, the pools are clear and clean. The white cloth cushioned lounge chairs are beginning to show signs of wear, but generally appear in good condition.
Unlike the great majority of all-inclusive resorts in the D.R., sit-down, full-service dining is available for all three meals -- a big step up from the standard buffet fare. Dishes like lobster gratin are fancier than typical resort plates of bland pasta, burgers, and fries. Guests are required to visit the concierge to confirm dinner reservations. Given that there are only two dinner restaurants on the property, it's a bit odd, but the property's so small it's pretty easy to make it over to the lobby.
Thalassa, the main restaurant on the property, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner -- all meals are included in the normal all-inclusive package. Despite horrible translations into English (a simple pass on Google translate probably would have yielded better results), the menu here is good. A variety of a la carte dishes are offered at all three meals, with an extensive supplemental buffet at breakfast. The hotel also has an on-site tapas restaurant called CATA TAPA serving dinner nightly.
Restaurant Palapa serves lunch at the beach. Though this didn't seem hugely popular, sunbathers and beach bums will appreciate the chance to grab an afternoon bite here, given the five-minute walk back to Thalassa. Snack Sea Blue, in the lobby near the pool and the beach, serves deli sandwiches and snacks for lunch.
The 24-hour room service is available at no extra charge as well. Continental breakfasts and sandwiches are the mainstays of the room service menu; not great, but good enough for a late-night nosh or lazy breakfast. The menu claims that all orders will arrive within 30 minutes of ordering.
Additionally, guests may dine at any of Catalonia Bavaro Beach's eight restaurants.
Name-brand liquor is prominently displayed at the chic lobby bar and at both restaurants, but guests will have to pay extra for it. Alcoholic drinks included in the all-inclusive plan are made using generic Dominican-produced liquors. Presidente beer is on tap, although minibars are stocked with cheaper bottles of Brahma.
This quiet, adult-only resort offers standard wedding package fare, but with fewer options (though less hassle) than some of its neighbors.
Quiet, adults-only Catalonia Royal has 255 clean, modern rooms, three restaurants, four bars, a spa, gym, two pools, as well as a private beach five minutes from the property along with beachside drink service. Neighboring sister property Catalonia Bavaro Beach has entertainment, additional dining, and amenities. The larger, livelier adults-only resort Excellence Punta Cana offers more, but Catalonia's quiet is a rare treat.