We flew into Samana on April 3, 2010 with Air Canada. From Ottawa to Toronto (1-hr flight) we were given cookies and a drink, then from Toronto to Samana (4-hr flight) meals had to be purchased, if you are at the back of the plane, normally out of all of the good food... very disappointing; the perk with flying through AC was all of the arrival and departure taxes were paid for. Once we landed, we had A LOT of paperwork to fill out, some that was never even used! Our bus ride to the hotel lasted about 45 minutes. We loved the fact that we received our room number, keys and everything was ready when we arrived. Check in time is only at 3pm, we arrived around 2pm and we were one of the few lucky ones that were able to go to our rooms as soon as we got there (others had to leave their luggage at the front desk until their room was available).
We stayed in a Junior Suite, room number 3131 - FANTASTIC room, the view was spectacular! Room service was great, mini-bar was filled everyday, beds were made and clean towels were left everyday. *Note... even if your room has already been cleaned and you don't want the maids to return (to bring you towels) put your Do Not Disturb sign back on your door, save yourself the embarrassment!
Snorkeling: The first 2 days were simply amazing! Beautiful Coral, lots of different fish, and water was very clear. The last 5 days, winds picked up which made the water a little rough, and murky. We did not snorkel at the public beach, we snorkeled at the private beach at both points in the water. Suggestion: if you have your own snorkeling gear, bring it! You have 1 hour of snorkeling per day but it costs $25 per additional hour to rent their snorkeling equipment.
Beach: We were a little worried about the cleanliness of the beach (because of all the pictures we saw), but they were very well maintained, never saw garbage on the beach at all! Some of our days were spent on the public beach (use elevator to get to it) but you lose the sun around 4-5 because of the mountains, so we would head up to the pool or the private beach to soak in the rays.
Food: Buffet was good, nothing spectacular, but there was a good variety! They had theme nights every night. It is definitely a chocolate lover's paradise!!! We ate at the Italian and the Gourmet Restaurants. Italian was AMAZING! Their minestrone soup was the best we had ever eaten anywhere! Gourmet was also very good - we ate their twice! Presentation was fantastic!
Bars: None of the bars were very busy, we never had to wait to order our drinks. My favorite drink at the Lobby Bar was the Chocolate Monkey; it's a must try! All pool/beach bars closed at 6:00 along with the pool itself. The staff had to finish their day job to serve supper, or get ready for the nightly entertainment - which needs improving. The Snack bar by the public beach had a good selection of food everyday, they also had the best tasting "pumpkin pie"!
Shopping: There were a few shops at the resort, very small, but they had nice things but were expensive. We went to the "Pueblo Principe"** and absolutely hated it! Locals are VERY pushy and call you names if you don't buy anything from them. If you are looking to buy rum or mamajuana, their is a vendor set up on the public beach everyday of the week, if you have no cash but are wearing nice sandals, he may just be willing to do a trade... We know - it happened to us. **Bring a calculator with you if you want to do the conversion yourself.
Excursion: We went on the Los Haitises excursion, it included a stop at Bacardi Island - we could have done without the Los Haitises part of the excursion- we had a rude tour guide who could barely talk English and he was very aggressive with the tourists. We would have been just as happy spending more time and money on an excursion to Laventado - live and learn. Laventado is BEAUTIFUL!!! The only down side to Laventado is that it is a tourist trap. you have to rent the beach loungers, snorkeling gear, etc. Snorkeling here was simply AMAZING! We tried to go back but the boat that shuttles you from Cayacoa to Laventado was broke. It only cost $25 for about 4 hours.
Weather: it rained everyday for about a half an hour, it was very windy, but we didn't dwell on it, we made the best of every day together and enjoyed our week long vacation.
Language: We both speak English, I speak French and neither speak Spanish, but we were able to communicate fairly well with the staff, never ran into any serious problems! The staff was very friendly, they all greet you and ask you how you are... they love it when you try and answer them in Spanish - even if you don't say it properly! The Spanish class offered at the pool is recommended to all, it teaches you the basics!
I know this review is long, but we wanted to be thorough, if you have any questions that we didn't cover, don't be shy, shoot us an e-mail, we'd be happy to help!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Facilities and services: Main pool with Jacuzzi surrounded by a sun terrace 3 beachside hydromassage tubs Loungers, sun umbrellas and towel service BAHIA SPA (additional charge) Water activity centre WiFi access in the lobby (24h per day free of charge) Wedding gazebo Buffet-style main restaurant and 3 speciality restaurants 4 bars, cocktail lounge, chill out zone, 1 snack bar Sports facilities: gym Pueblo Principe: Shopping and leisure mall with local craft stores, live music, shows, stores, bars and disco. Rooms: 295 rooms including 4 types: Standard, Standard with Sea View, Superior Junior Suite and Club Golden Junior Suite. Junior Suites are larger than Standard rooms. Room facilities: King size bed or 2 full size beds Fully-equipped bathroom with hydromassage bath tub, hair dryer and magnifying mirror. Air conditioning Ceiling fan Telephone Satellite TV Coffee-making facilities Mini-bar Safe (additional charge) Terrace WiFi (additional charge) Junior Suite: sitting area, sofa-bed and ironing set Club Golden Junior Suites (See page 18 Club Golden, Club Hacienda) Children Bahia Scouts The hotel is perfect for families, offering a range of facilities tailored especially for children, including the following: Park Mini Club for children aged 4 to 12 Evening Mini Disco Babysitting service (additional charge) Other services Medical service (additional charge) Pharmacy (additional charge) Bus stop opposite the hotel Auditorium for corporate meetings Panoramic lifts Personalised menus (for celiacs, diabetics, etc.) Available on request Specialised service for organising weddings, incentive trips, events and anniversaries. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Gran Bahia Principe Cayacoa Hotel
- Gran Bahia Principe Cayacoa Samana