Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
All-inclusive resort for the masses
The Punta Cana section of the massive Bahia resort complex begins at one of two large lobby areas closer to the main entrance, which helps make arrival easier than other areas of the resort complex. It's best to have the exact name of the resort written down to avoid arrival confusion. This is one of the biggest resort complexes in the Dominican Republic -- expect to get lost in the first few days. The rather confusing hierarchy doesn't make it easier; guests of every section have a different color of wrist band, which allows different levels of access throughout the complex, though the guests themselves may not have a deep understanding of where they are allowed and where they aren't.
The Punta Cana is one of the more affordable areas, and guests can also access the Bavaro section of the resort via shuttle for more bars, restaurants, nightlife, and the water park. The reverse is not true -- guests at Bavaro (the largest section) can only access Bavaro's features. However, every other resort in the complex (The Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar, The Luxury Bahia Principe Esmerelda, and the Grand Bahia Principe Turquesa) does have access to the Punta Cana section. This means this section is one of the more crowded. Expect to jockey for chairs at the pool in the morning.
A Vegas-like property along a nice stretch of beach
The Punta Cana and Bavaro sections are off the beach, in the middle of the massive Bahia Principe resort complex (the beach is a 10-minute walk from most rooms). It’s fine for the avid walker (just don’t forget sunscreen), but most guests rely on the shuttle buses to get around. The entire resort complex is located in Bavaro, which is theoretically a neighboring village of Punta Cana about 35 minutes from the Punta Cana International Airport. The resort is one of several resorts on the nearly 10-mile stretch of Bavaro Beach, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the Dominican Republic. As is the case for all resorts in the region, there is not much to do outside of the gates, so most guests tend to stay put.
Basic but clean rooms with whirlpool tubs
This lower-priced section of the resort complex has 756 basic but clean rooms spread out in separate two- and three-story buildings with balconies overlooking the manicured grounds or a pool. Junior Suite Superior rooms (two full beds or one king bed) have minibars with water and soda, pull-out sofas (ideal for families), and whirlpool tubs. The 396 Club Golden rooms offer more amenities including a location closer to the beach, coffeemakers, bathrobes, slippers, and beach towels in the rooms, upon request. There is a charge for using the safe. The white bedding with blue accents has been upgraded from a previous floral pattern.
Bars, restaurants, entertainment, and more
Guests at the Punta Cana area of Grand Bahia have access to their own restaurants, nightly entertainment, and bars, as well as those at next door Bavaro. There are quite a few entertainment options to stay busy at night that are typical for all-inclusive resorts. Reservations for the a la carte restaurants can be a challenge, and it is recommended that guests make these early as possible before they fill up. There is a buffet breakfast in the lobby.
There are two main pools close to most of the rooms. Both pools have a swim-up bar, a self-service soda bar, and plenty of lounge chairs (though they get snatched early in the morning). Other amenities that can be accessed via walking or shuttle service are tennis courts, a water park, basketball court, mini-golf course, and go-cart track.
For shopping, Pueblo Principe Village is a replica of a Dominican village, at the center of the resort. It features vendors selling artisan crafts, plenty of shops, along with a karaoke bar, snack shop, and a large stage where the house band plays nightly.
The full-service Bahia Principe Spa is tucked away beside the resort entrance. The facility includes a sauna, steam room, whirlpool, cold baths, and showers, all outfitted in mellow blue tiling. Guests have unlimited access to these facilities with any treatment.
The Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana is mid-range, family-friendly all-inclusive with more affordable prices than three of the four other resorts in the massive Bahia complex. This section has 756 rooms in two categories: Junior Suite or the upgraded Club Golden level (which offers a few extras, such as closer proximity to the beach). The beach requires a walk or shuttle from most rooms, but it's easier to get a lounge chair here than at the pool, where chairs tend to get snatched during sunrise. Rooms are basic, clean, and spacious with pull-out sofas for families, but there's a pesky charge to use the in-room safe. It's a crowded, large-scale resort with lots of features and lots of bar and restaurants options.