Recycled waste water used for irrigation; can be smelly
Bathroom layout not conducive to privacy
Guests must walk through the Catalonia Bavaro to get to golf course
Parking can be tight
Casino could use a rehab
This adult-only, all-inclusive beachfront resort is one of the smaller and quieter options in Punta Cana, with just 255 rooms. It offers impressive food variety given its size, with two a la carte restaurants on-site and more options next door at larger, family-friendly Catalonia Bavaro Beach (for Royal guests, no reservations are required). Other features include a spa, gym, two pools, a small private beach a five-minute walk from the property (where beachside massages are offered), and a putting green. Neighboring sister property Catalonia Bavaro Beach has entertainment and additional amenities. Just be aware that this is an upper-middle-range, not a luxury, resort, with some visible wear. The Excellence Punta Cana is a more upscale (and expensive) adult-only option.
This 255-room, adult-only hotel is uncommonly quiet, with no noisy entertainment or raucous bar scene. For that, just walk five minutes to the sister resort, Catalonia Bavaro Beach.
The Catalonia Royal Bavaro takes its adult-only status seriously, and caters to romantic (mostly married) couples. Expect some topless sunbathing on the beach, a la carte restaurants with no reservations required (the buffet is next door), and most strikingly, quiet. The absence of children, a late-night disco, thumping poolside music, or organized games at the pool and beach is rare for a D.R. all-inclusive.
Once guests are past the lobby and walk toward the beach, they'll find sprawling reflecting pools surrounding Cata Tapa restaurant and the main pool; they help enhance the zen vibe somewhat, though the dirty bottoms here and in the swimming pools are drawbacks. This sort of wear is unfortunately typical for the property -- guests complain of maintenance issues ranging from faulty ACs to inconsistent Wi-Fi. Note that time-share salespeople can use tricky tactics, such as offering to take guests on a tour of the property (but really just roping them into a presentation).
The laid-back crowd is mostly a mix of Americans and Spanish (or Canadians and French in winter). Couples laze in and out of that main pool, sunbathe topless at the small stretch of beach, practice putts on the small green by the spa, or converge in a pavilion that serves as the dining area for both the pizzeria and the Asian restaurant.
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.
Close to the Punta Cana airport and right on its own stretch of beach
The Catalonia Royal Bavaro is about a 15-minute drive from both Punta Cana airport and from the hub of resorts in Bavaro. Getting here requires taking the main highway and then turning off onto a side road that'll have guests wondering if they took the wrong exit -- the first thing they'll see is the parking lot for a tour-bus company. Trust that if you made the turn at the Tyrannosaurus Rex (yes, you read right, we said to trust the dinosaur), you are on the right path. You have only to follow the slightly winding road a bit longer before making a right at the sign for the hotel and its hot-pink security gates. (If you pass the Catalonia Caribe golf course, you've gone too far).
For most guests at this all-inclusive resort, enjoying this hotel, its beach, and its sister property's amenities will be enough. But those who want to get a taste of local culture -- or visit other hotels -- will need to rent a car or hire a cab to explore outside the Catalonia bubble.
Large rooms with two-person whirlpool tubs, four-poster beds, wicker furniture, and large terraces -- but inconsistent Wi-Fi and no ocean views
Rooms here start at a spacious 37 square meters (about 400 square feet), though they're not as big as those at the slightly pricier Excellence Punta Cana (which start at 550 square feet). They are clearly designed for couples, with two-person whirlpools near the beds and showers without doors. Furniture is stylish and modern, and typically includes four-poster king-size beds, wicker furniture, lots of wood accents, and terra-cotta tile floors (though the floors are looking a little worse for wear).
Because tubs are in the main bedroom area, the marble bathrooms are on the smaller side; they're also dim, and doorless showers can leak. There are also occasional issues with the hot water. Wi-Fi signal in the rooms is inconsistent at best, and AC units can be problematic and contribute to a musty smell (not all guests have this issue and we didn't notice it in the rooms we inspected). Minibars are stocked with soft drinks, snacks, and beers, and all rooms have terraces with views of the resort's pathways, other buildings, or pool (none face the beach).
Junior Suite Deluxe Rooms are a bit larger and closer to the beach than the Junior Suite Superior Rooms. There are two room categories with private pools.
A five-minute walk from the lobby, the small, private beach is separate from the larger beach at the sister property, Catalonia Bavaro Beach.
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. A section of beach screened off by hedges is available for private events. (The shoreline was being cleaned up with heavy equipment during our visit, and we could not photograph it.)
The beach's shallow water is calm. Kayakers and windsailers can often be seen sliding across the water as guests stroll along the soft sands. A moderate amount of seaweed dots the shore and floats in the water (it was worse than usual in 2015), but staff work hard to clear it. Beaches at the resorts farther north in Punta Cana typically have 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. Maloo Bar, serving fresh juices, is located here, and there are also a massage hut and yoga pavilion. Drink service is available.
Proper sit-down restaurants for all three meals, plus 24-hour room service, snacks at the beach, and plenty more restaurants at Catalonia Bavaro Beach.
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. No reservations are required. Though the variety of food offered is impressive for this price range, the quality can be hit or miss.
Thalassa, the main restaurant on the property, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner -- all meals are included in the normal all-inclusive package. 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 (there's a dress code). These restaurants are both exclusive to Catalonia Royal Bavaro guests.
Snack Sea Blue, in the lobby near the pool and the beach, serves deli sandwiches and snacks for lunch. Palapa Restaurant - also available for Beach Bavaro guests -- serves breakfast lunch near the beach and pool. Sunbathers and beach bums will appreciate the chance to grab an afternoon bite here, given the five-minute walk back to Thalassa.
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. Orders should arrive within 30 minutes of ordering.
Two pools, a small spa, and a small gym, plus much more at the Catalonia Bavaro Beach next door
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 an integrated whirlpool, but compared to the main pool at the Catalonia Bavaro Beach, it's not raucous. The second pool is smaller but sometimes busier; it is rectangular and its shorter end has an infinity edge facing the beach through some trees. Beach towels are provided in the room and replaced daily, saving the trouble of towel cards and towel stands.
There's a putting green right on the hotel grounds, and guests can walk through the Catalonia Bavaro Beach to a nine-hole golf course right on the premises; an 18-hole course is a shuttle ride away. Green fees are waived at both, though there are fees for carts and club rentals.
The hotel includes free Wi-Fi throughout the complex, including in rooms; the signal was strong during our visit but guests have complained of spotty connections ins some rooms.
The clean spa provides free access to its steam room, sauna, whirlpools, 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 there are mounted flat-screen TVs. Cold water and juices are provided.
Though the vibe here is quiet, there's a piano bar in the lobby with live music several times a week. Other features are located on the shared sister resort, Catalonia Bavaro Beach.
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