Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
This more luxurious portion of the sprawling Gran Bahia Principe complex is exclusive to guests ages 18 and up. Equipped with its own separate lobby, four restaurants, gym, spa, pool, and beachfront, it's a self-sufficient resort. The Ambar's silver wristband grants access to the rest of the Gran Bahia Principe, but other guests cannot enter the Ambar's quarter. But its about a 15-minute walk through a confusing maze of hedges and guest-rooms to the or or the massive (or, you can just wait 15 minutes and take the resort's shuttle).
The main advantage is the quiet. There are no kids splashing in the pool, crying on the beach, or throwing tantrums in the restaurants. But for some guests, this section of the complex can be a little boring. In the evening there's nothing to do after dinner besides swilling drinks at the lobby bar. Guests who want to dance, watch an Afro-tastic rendition of " " or sing "My Heart Will Go On" painfully off-key must head over to main resort.
The complex is massive, with an swimming pools, two , two spas, and 18 restaurants. It's so massive that many guests, and even staffers, regularly get lost. This is every guest's first and biggest complaint, but when this is all there is to complain about, it's a pretty good sign., five
A 30-minute taxi ride from the Punta Cana airport brings guests to the enormous, self-sufficient resort.
A less than 30-minute taxi ride from
The Gran Bahia is an enormous resort -- so enormous that even the staff can regularly get lost! Ordinarily, this would be appalling. But with three enclaves that each have their own lobby (the Punta Cana, , and Ambar), an , five swimming pools, two , two spas, and 18 restaurants, who can blame them? Still, it's every guest's first and biggest complaint
The Ambar is at the far end of the beach. It's a good 10- to 15-minute walk from the restaurants, bars, and discotheque over at the and the . Taking the free shuttle halves the time, but it can take up to 15 minutes for it to show up in the first place.with its own access to the
Still, size offers a degree of privacy -- few resorts are large enough to afford an adults-only area that's a self-sufficient resort in and of itself, with its own restaurants, , spa, pool, and beachfront. Unless guests want more of a variety, they never really have to leave Ambar's embrace.
A broad, powdery beach that's lightly populated around Ambar but gets filled with families father down. Plus, there's a floating
This broad, powdery stretch extends all the way from Ambar down to the family-friendly beachfront by the Punta Cana and enclaves. In fact, it's perhaps the broadest and longest beach I visited in the D.R.! It's open and very lightly populated around the Ambar, but as the beach winds down toward the rest of the Gran Bahia Principe complex, it steadily gets filled with families. Honestly, the beach by the Ambar is probably the only place where you can find a chair in less than minutes!
There's a fairly active water-sports scene here, though you technically have to go off the property to rent anything from the vendors at the far end of the beach. The Ambar's slice of the beach borders the end of the resort, with several hawking their services past the boundary.Plenty of people book rides through them, and they seem perfectly safe, but remember that they're not affiliated with the resort so there's no real guarantee.
The resort, however, organizes trips to a floating water park way out on the water, where you can zip down a massive waterslide. Even better, they'll immortalize the memory by filming you and sending a copy of the DVD to your guestroom.
Guest-rooms at the Ambar -- and they're all the same type -- are grouped together in 11 three-story buttercup-yellow buildings connected by paved pathways weaving through the resort's strictly disciplined gardens.
Rooms are large, perhaps a little larger than at the Occidental Grand or the Melia Caribe Tropical. An serving as a border between the balcony and sitting area -- with a padded platform that acts like a sofa -- and the bedroom. The area is undeniably beautiful, and comes with either one king or two full-size beds. The beds all have four posts and a canopy. Well, technically the linen cloth tied with a ribbon over the bed frame isn't a real canopy, but it certainly looks nice. The beds themselves are comfortably plush with decent -- if not top-count -- sheets and pretty, flowered bedspreads.
Each room is equipped with a high-quality Phillips flat-screen TV with a full range of international (predominantly American) channels. The mini-fridge sports some bottles of water, beer, and soda (all free), but there's no liquor. There's no Wi-Fi or wired Internet.
Bathrooms, done up in white and dark marble, come with a generously sized Jacuzzi in the corner with three jets on either side (ideal for a couple), and a separate shower stall with both a handheld and a rainfall showerhead. The toilet is in a small closet by the sink with a scale placed mockingly at its doorstep.
The medium-size balconies are just about large enough to fit in a couple of chairs and have a view of the resort grounds and the neighboring buildings. But since none of the buildings are up by the beach, guests don't be get any real ocean views.
Just in case the point hasn't stuck -- theis huge! Absolutely humungous! You could probably live out here all hobo-like and keep turning up at buffets and bathing on the beach and no one would notice! (For legal reasons, we would ask that you don't attempt this.)
But while the rest of the resort is pretty daunting, the Ambar is like a compact version of the larger property with its own swimming pool, beach, gym, and spa. Having a kid-less swimming pool is a major plus. Just quiet grown-ups idly floating around without any kids splashing about or . The pool itself is half the size of the enormous over on the the family-friendly side (read about it in the review of the Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana), but it's the same set-up -- loosely lagoon-shaped with Jacuzzis bubbling on the corners. There's a broad deck surrounding the pool with plenty of lounge chairs but no cabanas or substantial shade. The nearby snack bar with its leafy table-side canopies is the closest alternative.
The Ambar's small lifting weights. The cardio side definitely has more equipment, with stationary bikes far outnumbering the treadmills. Over on the weight-training side, there are fewer options, with only one rack of free-weights and a handful of machines. Still, all the equipment is well-maintained and relatively modern. The two trainers at the gym are also a major plus.is at the bottom of a flight of stairs and is divided into two mirrored rooms, one for and the other for
For the, , and shopping village, guests have to head over to the main property.
It's an adults-only resort, so the youngest guests are 18.
It's an adults-only resort, so guests can't bring any of the brood unless they're 18 or older. Still, some families with college-age children do stay here. There's also a smattering of 20- and 30-somethings, but in general the resort seems to cater to a slightly more senior crowd (as in the I-don't-want-to-babysit-my-grandkids crowd). Have kids? Check out the Gran Bahia Punta Cana next door.
The resort is super-clean.
Squeaky-clean. It's neat-freak heaven!
The food at the à la cartes is superb. Plus, the staff makes reservations for guests in advance, a great improvement over other hotels' annoying systems.
In addition to the standard D.R. buffet, the Ambar has three à la carte restaurants that are covered by the all-inclusive fee but have to be booked in advance. As a courtesy, the resort automatically books guests at restaurants ahead of time, but you can always change the reservation if you wish. This is a huge advantage over most resorts, which either force you to line up at the crack of dawn each day to reserve a table (as at the Riu or Iberostar resorts), or have no reservation system at all, meaning you have to show up at the restaurant as soon as it opens, wait for an hour, and cross your fingers that a table is still available (as at the Victoria Golf Resort). In addition to the Ambar's three restaurants, guests can eat at any of the six à la carte restaurants at the Gran Bahia complex. Pop over to the review of the Gran Bahia Punta Cana to scope out your options.
The food at the Ambar, however, is superb on its own. The Portofino restaurant is hands down one of the best dinners at any all-inclusive in the Caribbean. The "fish surprise" and lasagna are perfectly cooked and served without the usual overreliance on salt and spices, as if often the case in all-inclusives. The dining environment -- a set up that is a constant at the three à la cartes -- is spacious and elegant with most of the tables on a slightly raised platform in the middle of a large dining room with a statue bearing a lamp in the center. If the Italian food here and the Mediterranean menu at El Olivo next door aren't to your liking, head over to Don Pablo by the lobby for a taste of "gourmet" local cuisine.
Palmyra, the Ambar's buffet restaurant, is open for all three meals and has a different theme every day -- like Italian, Caribbean, or American. The buffet has a pretty impressive selection to choose from, though the array is on par with less froufrou joints like Natura Park and the Occidental. Still, it's much better than the buffet at the pricier Melia Caribe Tropical.
The Ambar, unlike the other resorts in the Gran Bahia complex, has 24-hour room service. In reality, however, one's choices are limited to a snack-heavy menu with no actual entrees to choose from. Plus, there's usually a 45-minute wait involved.
On a final note, all restaurants at the Gran Bahia require guests to apply a generous dollop of the Purell hand sanitizer by the door before dining, for health reasons (Your call if this is good or worrisome). These are the only resorts anywhere in the D.R. that force guests to do this.
The à la carte restaurants and lobby bar serve international brands of liquor, and there's dancing in the evenings at the bar.
Get a cup of tea or coffee -- and mix in a spot of gin -- at the lobby bar where incoming and outgoing guests relax during the day. In the evenings, the scene livens up a bit with a gentleman playing such classics as "Lady in Red" muzak-style while some couples leisurely dance across the lobby.
The à la carte restaurants and lobby bar all serve international brands of liquor, but the buffet restaurant only serves Dominican brands.
The quiet, adults-only (18+), 400-room Ambar is a self-sufficient enclave within an enormous, three-resort complex. With its own superior-quality restaurants, quiet pool, white-sand beach, sparkling gym, quality spa, and huge, romantic suites, it's an elegant alternative to wilder, kid-filled resorts. Still, fun at the is a 15-minute hike away.