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Reviewed 6 February 2012

me and my husband went here for our honeymoon and had a fantastic time the staff were friendly nothing is too much trouble,the food at the buffet was excellent and always something different,the staff in there really looked after us saving us a table every day and always making sure our drinks were topped up,
the views were fantastic,only went to the beach once but it was lovely,we spent alot of time at the main pool where the entertainment staff were brilliant esp danny who does the water aerobics we really had a laugh with him he was chatting to everyone and made them feel very welcome.
They also made a big fuss of my husband on his birthday
all in all had a wonderful time here would highly recommend,the hotel is spotless staff fantastic views brilliant couldnt ask for any more

  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank jonjonward
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 February 2012

My boyfriend and I ended up getting this trip for free because a problem with a previous vacation. Our expectations were low going in; we were just looking for some winter warmth. However, this resort was suprisingly lovely, with many great features. Overall I do recommend it. However, the north shore of the Samana peninsula and Cayo Levantado are probably better areas to stay, whereas the Principe Cayacoa is in the village of Samana.

The Pros:
-The grounds and buildings are lovely. Our room was spacious, (it was a Royal Golden suite) and the bathroom was modern, looked new and marble or a similar type of stone.
- The buffet was always delicious and had a wide variety of food. The snack bar by one of the pools also had food throughout the day. Also despite hearing horror stories before our trip, we did not get sick.
- The resort sits on a private bay and the views are beautiful. Private also means no hassles whatsoever while sitting on the beach in certain areas. (The bigger beach area did have some vendors.) It is very natural area, with no development, except for te town of Samana across the bay.
- There were many areas to swim, including pools that ranged from party-ish to secluded and quiet, and beachfronts that went from lively to tranquil too.
- The day trips around Samana (all of which can be booked way more cheaply outside the resort) are just okay: horseback riding to the El Limon waterfall (pretty good,) visiting the nearby island of Cayo Levantado (nicer beach,) visiting Los Tainos National Park, (just average,) or the village of Las Terenas, (infinitely nicer than Samana which is a hole.)
- The staff was generally very friendly and helpful. The one exception was in the lobby where you will be HOUNDED by GBP Privilege Club employees trying to upsell you and who are incredibly annoying. We eventually learned by to give them the brush off but it took a couple of times to figure out who they were, what they wanted and how to get rid of them.

The Cons:
- As mentioned, there is nothing redeeming about Samana. A lot of skinny, flea-bitten dogs wander around and it is a wonder how there aren't piles of them lying run over in the middle of the street. The city is not pretty and as a tourist you can expect to be hassled. As a woman, expected to be leered at and catcalled. The only benefit is getting to see real Dominican life, not the Disney-fied resort version. Las Terenas is a much nicer area to stay, and it is on the north coast.
- Mosquitoes (and apparently there is malaria???) I got like 20 bites but my boyfriend go none. Go figure.
- The three restaurants at the resort each suck, although two have pretty views. Also, a special warning to vegetarians to check and REcheck whether something is vegetarian. A soup that was made from a beef base (bones that were then removed) was labelled as veg.
- The wine that is included also sucks; we had to buy that separately.
- Lots of smokers. There is nothing worse than trying to enjoy fresh air outside while second-hand smoke is blowing in your face.

The Neither Pros Nor Cons:
- Lots of stairs! The resort sits on a cliff/overhang and different places are at different levels. There is a shuttle that drives people around but my boyfriend and usually just walked. TO give you a sense, this means getting from our room to the buffet meant climbing like 6 long staircases! Getting from one of the restaurants to the lobby meant like 9 long ones! We did not mind that much though because we figured the exercise was helping balance all the food and alcohol! If you have mobility issues, you'll want to check your room location and you probably will be limited to certain areas.

Room Tip: If you are staying outside the main building, you want a room on EXACTLY the second floor. You do not want one on the first floor because people can see in your room, and you do not want one any higher because you have to take the stairs to get there.
  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled as a couple
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13  Thank Babsonvacation
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 January 2012

Stayed here from Jan. 14 2012 to Jan. 21 2012. Had a great time! The views from every window, terrace and deck are sensational. The check-in was quick and easy with very friendly staff and we were in our room in minutes. Every area of this hotel is kept spotless! The buffet was good with excellent service at all times. The beach, although small never felt crowded even though the resort was full for the entire week. The choice of a second quieter beach was nice too. We travelled via Westjet Vacations and they were excellent in every area! A special tip of the hat to Westjet Vacations Herman, who gave excellent (and true!) advice at every request. This was a pleasant change from the usual mega-large resorts and was very much welcomed. Highly recomended!

Room Tip: Stay in the main building and try for the 5th floor. Spectacular views from just about every room though!
  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank Trevor H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 January 2012

Firstly the staff BRILLIANT particularly the matra de & his second in command in the buffet. There were six of us and if they saw us coming & there wasn't a table for six they made one in seconds. Food was reasonable I put on 14 pounds in 2 weeks. Seafood restraunt I would give a miss.Drinks were the usual all inclusive. But if you ask you can get some premium brands on the all inclusive.
Cleanliness excellent this hotel is built on a cliff with lots of trees so there were some leaves on the ground but the grounds staff do their best to keep them cleaned up.Lots of steps to one beach, but they do run a golf buggy service to the reception/lobby so it is not a problem.
Elevator to the larger beach with lots of parasols sunbeds & bar. Games on the beach & at the main pool if you are into that sort of thing! With this hotel being built on top of a cliff the views are fantastic.

Room Tip: Ask for room on 4th or 5th floors to get the best views
  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Thank dogmanphil001
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 January 2012

GRAN BAHIA PRINCIPE CAYACOA, Samana, D.R.
January 8 to 22, 2012
Ruth (mra1) & Dave, Belleville ON


Finally, after 4 years we made it to the Samana Peninsula….the exact location being the Gran Bahia Principe Cayacoa, Samana.

Flight: Our travel arrangements this year were made with Air Canada Vacations, departing from Terminal One in Toronto on a non-stop flight to El Catey Airport in Samana, D.R. We chose ACV this year for 3 reasons: 1) cost for a 2 week vacation 2) flight details & 3) chance to upgrade our flight to Executive Class seating. All was well at time of booking in July, until October when we got word that our flight was downgraded to “full Economy”. Cost of our vacation was $3263.00 taxes & 2 early booking bonuses included, for 2 people for 2 weeks.
Departure was set for 9:45am on Sunday January 8, 2012. Seats were pre-booked so that we both could have aisle seating for the flight down & return, which worked well for me, although hubby didn’t quite have enough legroom for his liking…but we survived. We had excellent service from our Flight Attendants, pre-booked food from the On-board Café was palatable…all in all, the time passed quickly. On board film was “Real Steel”. Immigration paperwork & Tourist Cards were passed out on the flight & you had plenty of time to get them ready for landing.

El Catey Airport Arrival: This was our 11th trip to the Dominican Republic, but our 1st to Samana. But thanks to Trip Advisor & Debbie’s Dominican Travel boards, we knew what to expect upon our arrival. We have touch down at 3:05pm & after disembarking onto the tarmac, we’re herded into the Airport & then thru Immigration with all our paperwork. Our luggage is off first & we grab a luggage cart, have our luggage x-rayed & then head out the door to the buses. There are only 3 buses, as we were the only flight into the Airport. Each resort, El Portillio, Leventado & Cayacoa had their own buses, so it was a direct transfer ride.

Resort Arrival: It was a very pleasant 45-minute transfer to GBP Cayacoa, thru some of the most beautiful countryside that I’ve ever seen in the D.R. Check in was completed while on our bus…wristbands, room packets etc…even our a la carte reservations had been pre-booked for us. This was such a nice thing…no big lineups at Reception !! Our AC Rep (Joel) did Orientation & gave us background info of the Samana area while on the bus so that we wouldn’t loose precious beach time the next morning! Once we arrive at the resort, our luggage is unloaded & tagged & we’re off in search of our room, with the Bell Hop bringing luggage about 10 minutes later.

Rooms: We had an Air Canada “Standard Room”, which is located in the main building. I had emailed the resort 7days prior to our arrival, requesting an Ocean-view room with a King-size bed with good mattress. I had received no reply from the hotel, but our request was honored….3rd floor room (room 312) overlooking the main pool & the Bay of Samana, with a Kingsize bed & relatively good mattress! There are 2 bedside tables each with a drawer & a bottom shelf for storage, 2 wicker chairs with round table for sitting & a credenza with 4 drawers and mini-bar/fridge. On the credenza are the TV and a coffee making “station”. On the wall just above the credenza is an electrical socket that is easily accessible for re-charging your electronics. Lighting for the room is good, with an additional floor lamp for reading. The fan in the ceiling worked well….in fact too well, as we ended up turning it off & just using the air-conditioning unit on a low setting. The electrical current for the room is worked by a box just inside the entry door….use your spare key, or as we did, slide a business card between the contacts and all is ok. The mini-bar is restocked daily of water, pop & beer. Although we left a tip for the replenishment, once they figured out exactly what we used everyday, items were left in abundance!. The closet was big, with 2 bathrobes & slippers waiting for our use. There was an extra blanket & extra pillow on the top shelf & plenty of room for storing suitcases. I didn’t bring additional hangers & at times, wished that I had done so. There was a shelving unit with 5 shelves for storage/clothing & the safe was located in this area. The safe is electronic & we had no problems or mishaps with it. Cost of the safe is $4.00/day, but as we were AC Privileges, our safe fee was included. The bathroom was roomy & spotless, & looked as if new tiling & plumbing had been done recently. And, the view from the balcony was awesome!! We had no problem with water pressure or hot water, but did have 2 incidents with our toilet which was looked after immediately. On the balcony we had 2 chairs, a table and a drying rack attached to the wall.
Our maid did a great job with our room & kept the toiletries stocked up. The room has a “request form for cleaning times” which you can fill out & leave on the credenza ….she will try her hardest to have your room ready during the time specified (these are found in the drawer of the bedside table…we requested between 10am & 12noon). Bath/shower towels were plentiful & we even had face cloths on most days! Our blue beach towels were waiting for us upon check-in & there didn’t seem to be a shortage of towels at all. When finished at the end of vacation, we exchanged them for a “towel card”, which was handed in upon checkout.

The Resort & Grounds: The resort is located on a cliff overlooking the Bay of Samana and the town of Samana. It is a beautiful setting & I don’t think that there is a terrible view from anywhere in the resort. The building is in excellent shape, some areas showing a bit more age than others, but it’s clean, newly painted. The floors, public washrooms & room washrooms look as if they’ve been recently replaced. The flower arrangements through out the building, although artificial, were beautiful. The grounds & gardens were well kept and neat, with the flowers just starting to bloom. One problem that I did have was “low lighting”…found some areas to not be well lit & appear dark. It would have been much nicer, especially when at the Gourmet or Seafood Restaurants, to have been able to see the water at night with lights in the trees etc….you can hear the water/waves, just can’t see them !

Mobility: The main building is wheelchair accessible & has 2 elevators for use. There are a lot of stairs, both inside the main building & outside on the grounds. The stairs can be an issue…for me with a knee problem, I used the elevator as much as possible. It is rather nice to walk inside to the dining room or to the Lobby Bar and not get wet when it is raining! A shuttle is available from Reception to the Royal Golden/Bungalow & lower pool area, running every ½ hour during the day & when needed in the evening. If you didn’t mind the stairs and walkways, then you could take “the scenic route” to the lower pool area…thank goodness for “rest areas” along the way! A shuttle is also available to take you into town to Principe Street, running every hour/on the hour and the return trip is 5 minutes past the hour. (schedule is posted inside the shuttle cart)

Lobby/Reception Area: This area can be very busy, but since check-in was done while on the bus, we didn’t find Reception to be a “bee hive” of activity. Reception staff was very helpful, especially when the key-card for our room didn’t work…not once, but twice!! This was corrected in a speedy manner! The staff speak reasonably good English, enough to get their point & message across. At the opposite end of the Reception Area is Guest Services where you can make your reservations for the a la carte Restaurants & for the Spa. On the opposite side of Guest Services is the Privilege Club Vacation desk….these guys could be bothersome, but a good “no gracious” was sufficient. Just down the hall on the right, are the Tour Operators desks where you can access the excursion books & a book exchange shelf. Beside this area is the Royal Golden Club House & just before entering the Bar/Terrace area there is a little gift shop –expensive, but at least you can get a good idea of pricing before you set out on your shopping expedition into town!

Courtyard: Besides having a marvelous view of the town of Samana & the Bay of Samana, this Courtyard is quite busy. Buses are pulling in & out, the shuttles disperse from this area & deliveries come thru here. The gym, Bahia Spa, the Disco & the Italian a la carte Restaurant are located directly across from the entrance to Reception. Towards the gatehouse are a few shops on the left hand side where you can find souvenirs, t-shirts, coffee and liquor to take home. On the opposite side is the Photo Shop and Princes’ Club/Kids Clubhouse.

Internet Access: Free Wi-Fi is available in the Lobby area & the Bar/Terrace area. The best connection is the main Lobby. The connection in the Bar/Terrace area was really spotty, even though at some times I’d be sitting right near the router which was located on the wall. I found it very frustrating when I couldn’t connect but those around me were or could. So I’d just pick up my computer & move to the front Lobby!

Lobby Bar/Terrace: This is a very busy place especially in the late afternoon & evenings….a gathering place for everyone, thus it can be very noisy. The Terrace is a great place to enjoy the scenery of Samana town, get some sunshine & enjoy a good book. During the day coffee, tea, juice & water, along with fresh pastries are available until 4pm. In the evening “theme drinks” are on display and can be made for your enjoyment.

Games Room: This area is located just opposite the Bar area & is set up with lots of tables to sit and watch the sporting events on a big screen tv. Pool tables area available & while we were there, they were well used. Ping-pong table is available at the main pool.

Beach/Pool: The main pool comes to life around 7:30 in the mornings, when the staff start their “opening prep”…pool is vacuumed, deck is power-washed and the pool bar is restocked. The pool area is well used, even when it rains. The wooden loungers with cushion mats are the most comfortable that I’ve used in my many trips to the D.R. The pool is a good size, with 3 hand-railed entry points, a swimup bar & at last count, there was 10 huge sun umbrellas. A Jacuzzi pool is located on the far side. Towel hut is located in this area. Of course, the “towel game” is played with the loungers, but it didn’t seem to be as widespread as other resorts.
Lower pool at the Royal Golden section is not really a pool, but 3 jacuzzi tubs submerged…no actual pool area, but a soaker spot. There is a small beach for swimming and snorkeling & I found the sand to be very grainy. There is nice deck to lounge on & a wharf to walk on. It was enjoyable to watch the fish congregate en masse around the wharf as you fed them crumbs from the bread you’ve brought from the restaurant. This lower area is the only one that has a snack bar/restaurant available, so you do not have to walk all the way up to the main buffet restaurant during lunch hour. There are no towels available at the lower pool area.
Main Beach area is accessible by a panoramic elevator ride down the cliff. This is a nice sandy beach with soft waves, not big compared to other resort beaches, but it’s big enough for loungers & a beach volleyball area at the far end. There is a beach bar here as well as the Water Sports shack, another book exchange shelf and a fenced children’s’ play area. With this being a “public beach”, we had no problems with “the locals”. There are vendors at the far left end of the beach by the bridge, selling souvenirs, liquor, conch shells. And a couple of people selling excursions. You also have access to “the Bridge to Nowhere” from this area of the beach…up the stairs& to the right. A “shout out” to Emily & Evelyn at the beach bar!! Washrooms are in excellent condition.

Food: We had no problem with food at all during our 2 weeks. There was a great variety, nicely presented, but at times it was repetitive. The evening meals were broken up into theme nights: Monday- Spanish, Tuesday- Italian, Wednesday- Oriental, Thursday- Mexican, Friday- Gala, Saturday- Dominican (survey night, every other week), & Sunday- Canada.

Restaurants & a la Cartes – The main dining room had the most beautiful views during the daytime …looking out over Bay of Samana. A great place to watch the activity of the cruise ships that would come to anchor just off Leventado/Bacardi Island. The staff, most with limited English are very attentive, making meals very enjoyable. It was fun to learn more Spanish, while teaching them more English!. A “shout out” to the Maitre d’ Dadys & his Assistant, Ramon.
There are 3 a la carte restaurants: Italian, Mediterranean/Seafood, & Gourmet. I think our favourites were the Mediterranean/Seafood & the Gourmet.

Evening Entertainment: Nightly entertainment in the form of a live band or disc jockey, takes place on the Terrance starting about 7:30pm. The children’s mini-disco takes place from 8:30 to 9:00 & then music for the adults again until 10am. "Show time" is at the Disco, located across the Courtyard from the main Reception area. This is a small area & seating can become limited and very crowded…sometimes “standing room only”. Evening entertainment is on a 2 week cycle & but during our stay the Magic Show, Mr. Bahia Principe, Michael Jackson, Dominican Revue, Las Vegas show & Avatar were performed.

Off the Resort: Excursions are available so that you can go “off resort”. The most popular ones are “Whale Watching”, the new Zip-line and Haitises National Forest. We did not do any of the excursions, but I managed to see 5 whales in the Bay the day that we flew home…priceless!!
The shopping in Samana is fun & like all vendors, the storeowners would like you to come “looky, looky into my shop”. The shops on Principe Street can be quite pricey, but if you are careful you can find the right deal. The best coffee price we found, compared to the Supermarcado, was in the Mini-Market to the right of the little Bar/Restaurant…$3.75/lb US $$. At the Liquor & Cigar Store to the left of the drop off location, I bought 3- 16oz. bottles of dark vanilla extract at a price of 3/$10 ….asking price was $9.00 each.

Going Home: We arrived at the Airport at 1:15pm for our 3:55pm departure flight home. There were only 3 wickets open, so the line moved slowly. There has been a lot of discussion on the Travel Boards lately, about what can & can not go in your carry-on when flying out of El Catey Airport. For us that day, we could not have coffee in our carry-on & we could not take food thru Security. When we questioned our AC Rep, he said “to humor them & do as they said…they change their rules as often as we Canadians change our socks.” The Duty Free Shop had a couple of great specials & we were able to get what we wanted to take home.
An excellent flight home to Toronto, arriving on time at 7:20pm.

A wonderful holiday in the most beautiful part of the Dominican Republic. Would we recommend this resort? Definitely! Would we return to the Gran Bahia Principe Cayacoa? Definitely!!

  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
27  Thank mra1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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