Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
One of three mega-resorts on a single complex -- the others being the Iberostar Punta Cana and the Iberostar Dominicana -- the Iberostar Bavaro is the quietest, drawing mostly families or mature couples (sans kids or grandkids). The most expensive of the three resorts, the Bavaro has access to the pools and restaurants at the other two resorts, but these guests are not allowed on the Bavaro's property, except to use the Bavaro's gym and spa, which means the Bavaro's pool and beach are considerably less crowded.
The mini-mall, and most of the entertainment is on the other half of the property, by the Bavaro's sister resorts. In their stead, the Bavaro has leafy garden paths leading to two-story cottages that house the resort's 598 rooms.,
Like all Iberostar properties, the resort's design randomly swings from Chinese teahouse to Italian villa to Miami art deco. There's far more local art and culture on display than at comparable all-inclusives, including handcrafts onin the lobby and Spanish music in the restaurants -- rather than the standard Britney Spears/Bryan Adams outdated pop hits found everywhere else. It's not much of an exotic, Caribbean experience, but a little authenticity makes a bit difference.
The Iberostar is a Spanish chain with resorts in Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Unsurprisingly, most guests here are European (British, Dutch, French, German, and Spanish) or Canadian (as is the case for most of the D.R.).
Located on a picturesque but crowded stretch of beach in Punta Cana, the Iberostar Bavaro is the last (or, depending on where you're coming from, the first) of the three Iberostar resorts. It borders the Iberostar Dominicana which lies between the Bavaro and the Iberostar Punta Cana on the other end. Guests at the Bavaro can walk through all three properties at will and enjoy any of the three resorts' restaurants and facilities without having to pay extra. It doesn't work both ways, however. Guests at the Dominicana and Punta Cana aren't allowed to enter the Bavaro's grounds without purchasing a pass.
There's not much worth seeing in Punta Cana itself -- everything to see, do, and eat is on the resort complex property.
With especially fine, powdery white sand, the Bavaro's beach is one of the D.R.'s best. It's as broad as Miami's South Beach, and it stretches all the way down past the Dominica and Punta Cana resorts. Unlike the beaches at comparable resorts in Jamaica and Aruba, the sand here is packed especially deep and the shoreline isn't even vaguely rocky. The shoreline is clean and the water slowly gets deeper the further you wade in, without the sand abruptly dropping out from under you -- especially good for kids!
It's also a very active beach, with guests crossing back and forth between Iberostar properties or even over to the neighboring Riu Bambu. Still, there's plenty of space to grab a seat and watch enthusiasts take off , or go scuba diving with a team from the beachside Dive Center. There are also bars and ice cream stands at regular intervals along the beach to cool off from the sun.
Guestrooms at the Bavaro are all grouped in free-standing cottages divided by garden paths, and arranged in neat, parallel lines, all the way from the lobby out to the . But the only cottages with ocean views are the ones lining the boardwalk.
There are flowers in the bathroom too, adorning the tissue box. Even though it is done up in fake marble, the is still very nice and everything works fine, though the soap dispensers in the shower look like something from a public restroom. The shower stall looks as though it once had a glass door, but now it has an ineffective shower curtain that allows water to splash all over the floor. It's a good thing the room comes with so many towels.
Back inside, gauzy curtains are tied in a bow and festooned with flowers for each guest upon arrival. It's an open space, with a bedroom on a level above a living area, which has two divans that can double as beds, sleeping up to four people in the room -- an excellent feature for families. Down in the living area, a running the length of one wall supports a large . There's a mini fridge below stocked with beer, water, and soda.
The large lagoon-shaped pool is among the best in Punta Cana. The pool and its surrounding area is also where most of the games on the resort's activity calendar take place -- from dance lessons to card games -- and it stays pretty noisy throughout the day. With varying depths, there are plenty of shallow ends for little kids (but one of the shallow ends is dominated by the very popular swim-up bar, a feature not found at most Iberostars). Activities like take over the deeper sections of the pool. Most guests, however, prefer to sun themselves on the broad sundeck while catching a bite to eat from the adjacent snack bar.
Shared across three resorts (that's 1,513 rooms), the small fitness center overlooking the ocean is packed. The handful of treadmills and bikes are in high demand and there's invariably a line of guests waiting to use them. The weight-training machines are a little easier to get ahold of, but there's only one of each. Unlike the cardio machines, these machines feel somewhat outdated, and all of the weights are measured in kilograms. A are below the gym, but you have to reserve a place in advance to use either of them. The Jacuzzis are very popular, so be sure to book in advance.
The small spa offers a range of treatments from facials and massages to mani-pedis. But, since it's the only spa on the property, you've got to secure a spot well ahead of time.
Wi-Fi is available in the lobby, charged per day. (That fee also gets you wired in-room internet access.)
The Iberostar is a very popular pick among families. The two divans that come with every suite are large enough to comfortably fit the kids and can be properly prepared with sheets and pillows if requested. Cribs are also free, but should be booked in advance. In addition, all restaurants are equipped with highchairs for small children
The Lucy's Kids' Club is shared with the Dominicana and Punta Cana resorts. Unlike at other resorts, the staff always leaves a sign taped on the door with the wee ones' whereabouts, saying things like "at the pool" or "on the playground." Open daily, the counselors speak decent English. The club accepts children as young as 5, and teens ages 13 to 16 are also welcome during the high-season from July 1 to Sept. 15. But unlike the Grand Palladium in Punta Cana, there are no separate facilities for older kids. The club is fairly small, but has a huge jungle gym, a very shallow kids pool, a game room with mini-pool and ping pong tables, and even a nap room (though the counselors say this room is never used). Activities include a "fun dance," free-throw contest, volleyball, and a nightly “mini-disco” at night.
The buffet is packed with plenty of kid-friendly options like vats of French fries, pizza, and burgers, and there are also plenty of bite-size pieces of fruit to sneak on their plates. High chairs are available at all the restaurants.
An almost flawless level of cleanliness. It's also surprisingly mosquito-free, but there are a few tiny ants.
The staff at the Bavaro takes excellent care of the property, and the rooms are always well-cleaned. It's also impressive that a property with a mini lake on site could remain largely mosquito-free!
There were, however, a couple of ants. Tiny ants -- but ants, nonetheless -- creeping around the bed, and later by the sink. Still, they are easily brushed away and don't bite. This, after all, is what you get when you go to the tropics.
The Bavaro's main buffet restaurant, Los Haitises, is open for all three meals. It has a huge buffet station -- with the wooden skeleton of a dinosaur overhead, for some reason -- that's comparable in its variety to the spreads at Natura Park, and the Occidental. There are plenty of made-to-order stations, like the pasta and the omelet bars, where chefs can cut and cook food right in front of you. This is a considerable improvement from the similarly priced Gran Bahia Ambar, the Melia Caribe Tropical, and the Princess Bavaro.
If you end up sleeping through breakfast, not to worry. Los Bohios is a snack bar open throughout the day. There's a fresh selection of fruits, some yogurt, burgers, hot dogs, pancakes, and omelets made to order well into the afternoon. You can even get a drink at the neighboring Los Bohios Bar.
For dinner, the Bavaro has four à la carte restaurants, all of which are covered by the all-inclusive rate. But you have to reserve a table in advance with guest services (usually no later than the morning of). Jamabalaya, the Cajun restaurant, is most often considered the best of the à la cartes. Guests thoroughly recommend the jambalaya (surprised?). The Japanese restaurant, Hashiru, is also well-received. La Coupole, the French/Italian restaurant, and La Dorada, were the least popular, though guests still enjoyed eating there.
There is no drink service on the beach, but there are plenty of bars and spots for a cold 'cerveza' just off the sand and close to the pools.
Only one wedding package, and not a ton of extras, but the prices are right, the beach is less crowded than its Iberostar sisters, and the planning is hassle free
A quieter, less crowded alternative to its Iberostar sisters (the Dominicana and Punta Cana resorts), the Bavaro has 598 rooms that are all inside stand-alone cottages, each with more space for kids to sleep. Better food, closer proximity to the kids' club, gym, and spa, and a tamer stretch of beach can make the price jump well worth it.