Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
The biggest of the four Grand Palladium resorts -- with 636 of the complex's 1,875 rooms -- it satisfies with cheaper rates, a hopping, and family-size suites.
The largest of the four resorts in Grand Palladium’s Punta Cana complex is also the most popular. Most guests -- from young honeymooners to groups of retirees to large extended families -- favor this 636-room branch of the mega resort over Grand Palladium Punta Cana, Grand Palladium Palace, and the Royal Suites.
A shopping plaza with a pharmacy and 24-hour sports grill, 51 family-connected suites, and the largest number of à la cartes on the premises are all highlights here -- not to mention Bavaro’s frequently cheaper price tag per night than Grand Palladium Palace. With full access to the other two resorts’ restaurants, pools and amenities, guests at Bavaro get excellent bang for the buck. (The fourth resort, the Royal Suites, is an exclusive adults-only enterprise that does not share its amenities with the other three.)
Because of its size and popularity, Bavaro can feel a bit more crazed than Punta Cana or the Palace. The lobby is clearly designed to impart a calming, soothing feel, with a stunning Mayan-influenced water fountain serenely lit by natural light coming in through an opening in the thatched roof. But during check-in time, the can feel like Grand Central Station with guests waiting for their individual luggage to be scooped up from the massive pile by the front desk. But being at the heart of the action does have its advantages. The always-populated is a prime spot to meet and mingle with guests from Bavaro and the other three resorts, all swinging by to hit Bavaro’s fun à la cartes, nearby main theater, or shopping plaza with a . The negatives here are fairly minor, and by and large all guests seemed to enjoy their stay.
The Grand Palladium complex encompasses the Grand Palladium Punta Cana, Bavaro, Palace, and the Royal Suites Grand Palladium Royal Suites. The first three properties are connected by a train and share full amenities between them (guests at the Royal Suites can also use the other properties, but not the other way around), so everyone at the Bavaro is getting three resorts for the price of one.
The Grand Palladium is one of more than 30 resorts piled on top of one another on a giant strip of white sand beach in Punta Cana, the Disney Land of the D.R. The beaches are beautiful here -- think powdery white sand and turquoise water -- but head to the considerably more expensive Tortuga, the Sivory, or Sanctuary Cap Cana for peace and quiet.
Clean, flour-like sand, but the area is narrower than other stretches of . And with a resort complex this big, it can be pretty .
The beach is clean, but narrower than other stretches in Bavaro. This means perpetual crowds, and finding a free lounge chair can be tricky. As is common at most Dominican resorts, guests often reserve chairs early in the morning with their towels, and hang onto them all day.
The good news is that there are plenty of kiosks on the beach to get drinks, but guests may have to dodge the occasional sales guy trying to hawk spa services, jewelry, or glass bottom boat rides.
boats for windsurfing are available at no extra cost, like most resorts. There’s an extra charge for diving or deep sea fishing excursions. However, guests can’t snorkel from the beach here, given all the boat traffic. Snorkeling opportunities are much better on the southern coast, around . Check out Viva Wyndham or Dreams La Romana., , or
Deluxe rooms (the “standard rooms”) are a decent size and come with one king or two queen , a small overlooking the grounds, a marble bathroom with hydro-massage tubs, and a fairly well-stocked mini-bar (all the contents are free, but only restocked three times per week). Plus, all rooms have a sizable closet with space for more than 20 hangers. There’s a laptop-size safe in every closet, which is a rarity among most Caribbean resorts.
The beds aren’t especially soft, but they're plenty firm. Plus, a is offered at all Grand Palladium rooms -- guests can choose from six types of pillows at additional cost: butterfly, cervical, latex, memory foam, and duck feathers.
The standard-screen Zenith TVs have the Dish Network with TNT, TBS, Cinemax’s Action Channel, HBO, National Geographic Channel, Fox, CNN, and an impressive variety of MTV networks (VH1 Classic, MTV Hits). The reception, however, isn’t always reliable. All rooms also come with Lodgenet Pay-Per-View movies that include recently released movies, Nintendo 64 games, adult entertainment, and parental control.
toiletries -- after-sun gel, lotion, shampoo, soaps, combs, and more.have a sizable hydro-massage bathtub. In lieu of a shower curtain, a glass pane is used that only keeps some of the shower water from dripping onto the floor. Unlike many all-inclusives, the bathrooms are stocked with a good selection of free
Lights and electricity are activated with the room key card. It’s a helpful way to conserve energy, but you can’t run the AC all day while you’re out of the room.
The junior suites have the same features as the deluxe rooms, plus a separate seating area with a fold-out sleeper sofa and a bigger bathroom with a Jacuzzi and a separate shower. Located closer to the beach, the Romance suites offer all that plus a four-poster bed, and a private open-air terrace with a Mayan shower and a hammock. Strangely, the size of the balcony and the view doesn’t seem to change with room upgrades.
The beauty of the Grand Palladium is that you’re essentially getting three properties for the price of one. Grand Palladium Punta Cana, Palace, and Bavaro all share the same amenities equally. The only significant difference really is proximity to the beach (Palace is the closest, Bavaro the furthest).
There are five large, clean pools on Grand Palladium’s property. All are clean and have designated kids sections (though some pools are missing tiles). Like the beach, it can be difficult to snag a lounge chair here due to the large number of people. It also gets pretty loud when it's packed with families tossing around an inflatable ball or playing group games (darts, ping pong) nearby.
There’s a hugeon Punta Cana’s property with six , a , , rifle shooting, badminton, , and .
The Renova Spa is located on the Palace’s property and is large, airy, and super-relaxing. It has a full menu, ranging from manis and pedis to massages and exfoliation packages, but some of its best general features include its own private pool, steam room, and sauna, all of which are free. Massages cost less in a palapa on the beach than they do in the main spa, but the atmosphere on the beach is a bit less relaxing., an outpost of the popular
A medium-sizeis located on the Palace’s property with slot machines, Texas hold ’em, blackjack, and roulette tables. It’s usually packed come 11 p.m.
Theis bright, spacious and air-conditioned (unlike many Caribbean resorts), and there’s always a personal trainer on duty for an extra fee. Cardio equipment includes three treadmills, two stairclimbers, two bikes and two ellipticals, plus a huge variety of multi-purpose weight machines and free weights, all of which are in great shape. Open daily, but there are no trainers available on the weekends.
There’s free wireless in all of the lobbies. For those without laptops, there are fourlocated in each lobby that require guests to purchasea one-hour pass.
Very kid-friendly, with free babysitting, and even a separate club for tweens and teenagers with , , and .
While this is a resort popular with everyone from young honeymooners to retirees, families are particularly drawn to Grand Palladium resorts. Features are shared between the Palace, Bavaro, and Punta Cana resorts, and a connects all three properties.
Grand Palladium Bavaro features 51 “family suites,” which are really just junior suites connected to deluxe rooms (accommodating about six in all). Pay-Per-View kids movies are available in all rooms, and there are parental control options for the TVs and Nintendo 64 games.
Grand Palladium features four separate kids’ clubs to accommodate four different age groups: the Juniors Club (12-18) -- though there aren’t many 18-year-olds that need supervision. Twelve-year-old tweens will never get stuck at an ice cream party with five-year-olds.(ages 1-3), (3-5), (6-11) and
Theis a godsend for parents needing a quiet, romantic dinner alone. Four in the can accommodate infants. Overnight babysitting is also available at an additional charge and can be reserved through the concierge.
Only the Mini Club and Baby Club really use Fiesta Fort, the clubhouse at Grand Palladium Punta Cana instantly recognizable by its stand-up of Disney princesses out front. Most parents, however, prefer to bring their kids along with them during the day for family sailing, windsurfing, and island excursions.
Though initially skeptical of the Black-and-White Junior Clubs for 15-year-olds, the video games here are a big draw. Teenagers borrow video games from the decent-size collection (mostly for Xbox 360), hit the pool or foosball tables, or gather for group outings. Eight Panasonic flat-screens, hooked up to Xbox 360s, Playstation 3s, and Nintendo Wiis, sit behind 16 black-and-white vinyl. A separate features seven consoles with free Wi-Fi. The activities team plans a full day of events like archery and group dinners, but it’s the video games that are the true magnet.
Though everyone under 12 seems to gravitate toward the soft-serve ice cream machine, there is never any shortage of kid-friendly foods. Lunch buffets include a grill with burgers and hot dogs, an abundant pan of French fries, and meat and cheese pizzas. High chairs are available at every restaurant. Also, the Benihana-stylefeatures fun, spatula-juggling, tableside chefs.
Generally speaking, the Grand Palladium’s grounds are well-manicured. However, most tables in the lobby looked and felt sticky. There's also a fair amount of cigarette ash stuck in the wicker side tables. Used cups are picked up promptly though.
Fifteen restaurants, some of which don't require reservations
Guests of the Palace have access to 15 restaurants, including five buffets, across the four Grand Palladium properties. The Bavaro boasts an additional 24-hour sports bar grill. The eight à la cartes offer ample variety -- Mexican, Pan-Asian, Japanese, Spanish, Brazilian, Italian, Dominican, and surf and turf.
Admittedly the food is similar at all the Grand Palladium buffets, but Bavaro has the most guests and the biggest buffets. That frequently translated to longer lines, less time for the wait staff to clean up, and less attentive service.
Features like the crepe bar and roasted vegetable station at dinner makes for a variety of options, but the food is fair. The salad bar scored pretty low -- basically it was just iceberg lettuce and canned veggies. The fruit -- fresh pineapple, mango, and watermelon -- was pretty reliable.
The breakfast buffet at La Cathedrale has a make-your-own mimosa station and eight types of freshly-squeezed juice that go beyond the usual pineapple and orange to beet root, celery, and fantastic-looking watermelon. The mango was fresh and ripe every morning. Lines were mostly for the made-to-order crepe, waffle, and omelet stations -- and they weren’t that long.
No reservations are required for the à la carte restaurants, so guests don’t have to line up at 9 a.m. to get a nice meal. Instead, they have to show up to the restaurant at 6:30 p.m. and hope a table is still available for that evening (plan on waiting a few hours for a table). Kids love the spatula-juggling chefs at Suptuori, the Asian-theme Japanese grill. But at El Quijote, the Spanish restaurant, dishes are pretty hit or miss, like most of the meals at D.R. all-inclusives. Other a la cartes include Arrecife (beachside, international cuisine), Mare Nostrum (Mediterranean), Bamboo (Asian), and Gran Cantina Mariachi (Tex Mex).
Cocktails made from scratch, but they often contain much liquor.
Bartenders here have a light hand, but the tropical cocktails are some of the best. Unlike most all-inclusives, the margaritas are concocted from triple sec and fresh citrus juice, rather than sour mix. Mojitos are made with fresh mint. Piña coladas come topped with a fresh slice of pineapple and don’t taste like super-sweet Slushees (as they do virtually everywhere else). They are, however, all made with well liquor.
Grand Palladium boasts a considerable variety of bars, from beachside kiosks to poolside swim-ups to relaxed lounges with garden seating and the occasional Nespresso espresso machine. Bavaro's lobby bar is a happening place at all hours.
Rooms are a little worn, but the superb (though crowded) beach, free-form pools, and packed activities schedule draws families and couples alike. It's not quiet or intimate -- it's among 1,825 rooms in a four-resort complex -- but it's a great value. Slower service and the distance to the beach from most rooms make this resort cheaper than its sisters.