Thursday, January 3, 2013

Vacation Fail - Bavaro Princess Resort in Punta Cana

Wife and I don't have the best track record for vacations. Our honeymoon in 2009 was rerouted from a Western Mexican Riviera cruise (think South, warmth, tropical temps) to a cruise up the western coast of British Columbia, Canada. At the beginning of June. The only way I found out was by logging on to the website a couple of weeks beforehand and seeing a recommendation telling us to "remember to pack warm clothing, as temperatures on the deck will be in the 30-40 degree Fahrenheit range." On our third honeymoon, there was the whole Bloody Wall Hotel debacle. We were due for a good vacation.

So, a couple years ago Wife and I started saving for a good vacation. We knew we were going to want and NEED one after my first semester of med school, most of which we would spend apart. This past summer, I took those savings and booked a vacation through a travel agent at an "all-inclusive" resort called the Bavaro Princess Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

It looked beautiful, it was a five-star destination, and our travel agent highly recommended it. It seemed like exactly what we were looking for - simple, stress-free relaxation with just the two of us. Right?

Nope.

So many things went wrong on this vacation, I had to start a list by the second of seven days just to keep track of it. Yesterday, I went to the travel agent's office, and it took an hour just to describe everything that went wrong. I will try to give the abridged version here, along with a few photos.

We got to the airport in Grand Rapids at 4am, and arrived at the resort by 9pm resort time (8pm Grand Rapids time). While the travel went well and our flights were all on time, we were pretty tired and looking forward to collapsing in our room.

The First Leaky Room

Our room was a lower-level "Bungalow Suite," which had been a better-class room than we had expected when we initially booked the trip. However, the first thing I noticed when we stepped into the room was not the impressive quality of the room, but rather the overwhelming stench of mold and mildew. At first I thought it was perhaps because the room hadn't been aired out in a little while, so we unpacked our things in the bedroom and turned on the air conditioning. Unfortunately, when I made it to the bathroom I found the water leaking through the ceiling from the floor above.

That's right - water was dripping from the ceiling and making a puddle onto the bathroom floor. Judging by the stench that had permeated the whole suite, it had been leaking for a while. I got on the phone and spoke with the front desk. They didn't speak English (which for us wasn't a problem, but it was for many of the other guests that we spoke to), so all of the discourse I will be relating here was in Spanish:

Me: "Hello, I'm in room 248. We just got to our room, and I wanted to let you know that there is water leaking through the ceiling of our suite into our bathroom."

Front Desk: Sigh. "OK. We will send someone up."

No apology or anything, just a belabored sigh and "We'll send someone up."

A security guard and repairman arrived about twenty minutes later and got to work while we were there, tearing the ceiling out of the shower to look for the source of the leak:



 When rocks and dirt started showering down onto the floor of the shower, I and Wife started packing up our things, sure they were going to move us to another room. Makes sense, right?

Nope.

They assured me they would have it fixed - that it was probably just the air conditioning from the room above. No, it was a leaking pipe. No, it was just condensation. No, it was the air conditioning. No, it actually was a pipe.

They spent twenty minutes upstairs. Then they came back downstairs and tore more stuff apart. After two hours, they assured me that it was fixed, called some maids to clean up the dirt and rocks, and left. Never one word to apologize for our wasted time or the frustration of any of it.

After they left, I went to check the bathroom. Not five minutes after they assured me it was fixed, I found a new puddle forming from the ceiling on the bathroom floor. I called the front desk:

Me: "Hi, this is Justin again. You just sent some guys up to fix the leak in our ceiling. Well, they just left and assured me that it was fixed, but it is still leaking onto the floor."

Front Desk: SIGH. "OK. I will send someone again."

Me: "Wait, no. Isn't there some way you can make this up to us? This is really frustrating, and even if you send another person, I am no longer convinced that they will be able to fix it. Plus, this room smells terrible from the water damage, and my wife and I don't really want to have to wait again while they try to fix it."

Front Desk: "So? What do you want me to do?"

Now, normally you'd expect at least some modicum of courtesy and respect from a place as nice as this. I was kind of shocked that they really didn't seem to care at all.

Me: "Umm... Well, you could give us an upgrade or something?"

Front Desk: "No, the only upgrade is the Platinum package, and you would have to pay for that."

Me: "Okay then, could you at least move us to another room of equal value?"

Front Desk: "... You want us to move you. To another room."

Me: "Well, since this room has water leaking from the ceiling and smells horrible... Yes, I do."

Front Desk: "OK. I will send someone to bring you to your new room."

The new room was on the upper floor, so there was no longer any danger of leaks - or so we thought. More on THAT later.

While all of this was going on, I tried calling the customer service number given to us by our travel agent. It is supposed to be 24-hour service. The phone call cost me $6 to make from the room. I got a voicemail, and decided to leave a message to explain that we would be changing rooms and to describe the treatment that we were getting from the resort staff. I left all of my information and asked that they please call us the following day. They never called back all week.

The Agent

The following day, I had a meeting with a travel rep from VIP Travel Services that I THOUGHT was to fix a time for when / where we would meet the shuttle service to go back to the airport at the end of the week. I got to the meeting place at noon (the scheduled time) and waited 45 minutes for the agent to arrive. He didn't show, so I called him on his cell phone:

Me: "Hi, this is Justin, the client you have an appointment with at noon?"

Agent: "Ah yes, I am currently at a different hotel. They double booked me."

My thoughts: Okay, it sounds like you knew they double booked you. Couldn't you have left a message at the desk for me so I wouldn't waste my time waiting here?

I played it cool and reserved:

Me: "Okay, I understand."

Agent: "I will be there in five minutes."

Fifteen minutes later, he arrived and sat down:

Agent: "Okay, so what excursions would you like to do?"

Me: "Actually, we spent most of our money just to come down to the resort, so we are just hoping to enjoy the beach and the food - not to go on any excursions."

Somehow this bothered him a little bit, as he started to take a bit of an attitude with me. Please note - I did not request this meeting. It was something the resort scheduled me for.

Agent: "So why did you request this meeting??"

Me: "I didn't. I was told this meeting was partly to learn about the resort, but mostly to schedule and coordinate the transportation from the resort to the airport."

Agent: "Oh, we can't do that now. You have to call me the day before you leave and I will tell you the transportation schedule. We don't arrange it until the day before."

And that was that - an hour of waiting for absolutely no reason.

The Creep

That afternoon, we decided to check out one of the outdoor pools. It wasn't bad, except for one VERY creepy employee. He was kind of huddling behind one of the towel sheds by the pool area, about fifteen or twenty feet behind us. Our interaction:

Creep: "Pssst - hey man!"

Me, getting up from my beach chair: "Yeah?" I walk over toward him a bit.

Creep: "Hey! You see that white food box over there?" He gestures to a white styrofoam take-out box (the small flimsy kind you'd get from a restaurant for your leftovers) sitting on a cement post about thirty feet behind me as I faced him.

Me: "Yeah... What about it?"

Creep: "Can you bring me that box? I don't want security to see me." He gestures around the corner at an overweight security guard standing around the corner from him. Keep in mind - he's wearing one of the same uniforms as everyone else working on the resort.

This made me very uneasy. My thoughts were something like, This is weird. I don't know what's in that box; it could be drugs, money, someone's fingers, a gun... It could be food, but why would he be worried about being seen by security if it was just food? I don't need my fingerprints on that box. That went through my head in a flash, and I responded:

Me: "No, sorry man. I'll let you deal with that." I went back to sit down. As I turned away, I heard him loudly curse at me, "Mother f***er!"

He continued to lurk a few more minutes until he snagged a couple of groundskeepers from the resort to do his bidding. He took off after they gave him the box, disappearing behind the towel sheds. Weird.

The Beach

We decided to try out the beach. For the record, it was beautiful. The water was awesome, the sand was clean with no trash anywhere, and the water was a perfect temperature for swimming. There were even these cool little palm umbrella huts built into the sand all over the beach. There were more than enough lounge chairs and huts to go around, which was awesome. The beach was probably the best part of the trip.

Unfortunately, it was tainted by the hoards of solicitors, "photo shoot teams," animal handlers, and elementary school age drum/accordion/dancer bands roaming around asking for money. The beach was NOT a closed beach, which meant that the resort opened it up to solicitors to sell things like necklaces, bracelets, photos with a parrot/monkey/python/scantily clad buxom woman or muscular man. They were all very pushy, interrupting you if you were reading or sunbathing or even SLEEPING to shove their wares in your face and ask if you wanted any of it. If you weren't rude, you got the spiel. It took me about a day and a half to become rude, which was a bummer. I don't like being rude.

There were also a bunch of resort employees (I think they were, anyway) offering excursions and constantly trying to get choreographed dance/exercise routines going on the beach. They all had loud referee-style whistles that they would walk around blowing while shouting out things like, "SOCCER!! WHO WANT PLAY SOCCER!!" or "BANANA BOAT PARASAILING SCUBA DIVING SWIM WITH DOLPHINS!" All of this is while multiple bands of 2-6 little kids walked around the beach (all playing the same exact tune/rhythm) all day. They would play and belly dance (which made me feel very uncomfortable, having a six-year-old boy dance in the sand to a drum rhythm fifteen feet from me while randomly pulling his t-shirt above his head and shake his hips) for several minutes before walking around with straw hats held out while calling, "Money for the music?" I felt horrible for them, and at the same time just felt frustrated that it was allowed to happen. I felt bad for their situation, and felt even worse for lounging on the beach while they had to make a spectacle of themselves for pennies.

While the beach was the best experience of the vacation, it was not the most relaxing / guilt-free of beach experiences.

The Seafood Restaurant


That night, we were really looking forward to dining at one of the restaurants. The resort had six different restaurants, which we thought were all open each day. Wrong. The first couple restaurants we found were closed, but we finally found one open that served seafood. We were unfamiliar with the dining process, which works under a sort of punchcard system. They gave us a card with all of our check-in materials. We had to present this card to be punched at the restaurant in order to eat there.

We didn't have the card with us, so I left Wife at the restaurant and ran back to the room. At least, I tried to. Everything was so poorly lit (and the place was so HUGE) with no names on the paths/streets, so I got lost. It took me about a half hour (seriously, this place is like a little village) to find the room, locate the card, and get back to the restaurant.

When I got back, Wife hadn't ordered anything. When I asked why, she said that since she didn't have the card yet they wouldn't let her order (even though they knew I was going back for it). She also showed me a menu - which was full of items with prices! I couldn't believe it, and the menu had no explanation. Just lots of food and drinks with prices. We had thought that everything in the restaurants was free, and I didn't have any money with me to pay for food. All of our money was back in the room's safe.

Once I asked the waiter, it became clear that the priced menu was for extra special items that weren't on the "free menu," which he then handed us. We eventually ordered and got our food (after a long wait). Unfortunately, Wife's fish was completely undercooked!! Disgusted and a little nauseated, we just skipped to dessert. Blah.

Worst of all, this type of experience wasn't unique to the seafood place. To be frank, the entire dining experience blew. Two of the restaurants were never even open, so on two of our six nights we couldn't eat at a restaurant. There was a buffet open for those not eating at a restaurant, but the food there wasn't the best. All of the buffet food tasted like it had been frozen multiple times, watered down, or completely devoid of seasoning. So, we really wanted the restaurant experiences to be nice.

Not a good expectation to have at the Bavaro Princess Resport.

We quickly learned that if you wanted to get in to a restaurant, you had to show up right when it opened. We were told that we could make reservations to eat at restaurants when we checked in. When I tried to do so, I was told that because we hadn't paid the extra money to become Platinum members, we could not make reservations. When we then went to the restaurant, we were told to wait, as all the Platinum members (who had reservations) went in and ate ahead of us. It was not uncommon to stand outside of the restaurant waiting for 1-2 hours before being let in to eat.

The Bella Pasta

At one particular restaurant - The Bella Pasta, which was self-dubbed "The Best Restaurant of the Resort" - we waited over an hour to be seated. After getting our seats, we waited 25 more minutes before anyone spoke to us about drinks or ordering our food. After finishing our main course (during which our water nor our drinks were ever refilled) we waited an additional 35 minutes for them to deliver the desserts that we had ordered at the beginning of our meal. When the waiter came back to the table, he gave us a survey to fill out. A survey.

I was brutal, giving them the lowest marks for pretty much every aspect of their service. When he promptly came back to pick up the surveys, I was trying to treat the situation lightly and politely. This interaction took place:

Me: "I just wanted to let you know that when you came to give us this survey, we had been waiting here for 35 minutes waiting for our dessert, which we still haven't gotten."

Now, the waiter didn't respond verbally. He did something much more offensive. He just sort of spread his arms quickly to the side and opened his eyes wide while wobbling his head side-to-side as if to say, "So WHAT?" And then he stood there, just looking at me. Wife was completely flabbergasted at his attitude. He was definitely being rude, and not joking.

Me, after a long, awkward pause: "Okay... So could we have our desserts now, please?"

Waiter: "I will send someone out with them now."

Five minutes later, a different waiter came out with our desserts (we had ordered cheesecake), which looked like the sort of frozen cupcake dessert that you'd pull out of a Walmart freezer at $0.35 per cake. They were still frozen in the middle and completely freezer burnt on the outside. We left.

The Hibachi Restaurant

At the hibachi restaurant another night, the air conditioning was either broken or just not turned on. All of the diners were sweating through their clothing. It had to be 95 degrees in that room. We found that there's a reason that restaurants are normally cold: extreme heat = diminished appetite.

We were seated with a family of Russian people who spoke English and Russian, an Austrian couple that spoke only Austrian and Farsi, and an American couple that spoke only English. We were the only ones at our table that spoke Spanish, and none of the wait staff that night spoke Spanish. The menu was odd, only allowing you to order soup, but making it seem like you needed to order a specific sushi (Californial roll, Salmon roll, Tuna roll, Vegetarian roll) and main dish (chicken, shrimp, or steak). What nobody understood until I spoke with the waiter in Spanish (before which point the waiter had been trying desperately to convey by saying "Variety!" over and over while circling the whole menu with his finger) was that the only sushi option was a plate of "variety sushi," and the only main dish option included was one that included all the options of chicken, shrimp, and steak. Despite listing these things separately on the menu (and supplying no instructions on how to order), the wait staff would not accept orders for individual sushi or entrees. The only thing we could really decide while ordering was whether we wanted soup or not.

Once the food was cooked and scooped onto our plates, we found that it had all been incredibly overcooked - dry and tough. No one finished their meal, and everyone just got up and left without waiting for dessert. Bummer.

The Room Service

Multiple times during the week, the room staff failed to change out our wet towels for clean ones. There was a sign in the room saying that we were to leave our used towels in the tub if we wished them to be exchanged for clean ones. When we did so, they just left the old towels in the tub and didn't leave clean ones. SO, I just kept hanging them up in the hopes that they would dry by the following morning.

There was also a little card that we were supposed to leave on our door if we wanted to sleep in. It said, "Do not disturb on one side" and "Please come in and clean" on the other side. After using it the first morning to sleep in a bit, we flipped it around to say "Please come in and clean" when we headed out to breakfast. When we got back to the room later, the card was gone. And they hadn't left it inside. That evening, with no card to leave outside, I locked the door and drew all the curtains, hoping this would tell them that we did not want to be disturbed.

Nope.

At 7:15am, I woke up after hearing a BANG and a door opening. I sat up bleary-eyed to find a maid standing in our room, looking at me and my wife in bed. I just kind of got flustered and blurted out, "NO! NO, GRACIAS!" She sort of shrugged her shoulders and said, "Okay" as she turned and walked out. Awesome.

One night, frustrated by the dining options and (since the two restaurants remaining to us were closed) not looking forward to the buffet that night, we took a look at the room service menu. The cheapest things on the menu were a bowl of chicken soup ($15 per bowl) and a small, personal pizza ($20). There was also a notice stating that it would take a minimum of 40 minutes from the time we ordered to when we would receive our food.

Then I remembered that when we had checked in at the beginning of the week, the desk attendant had told us that the mini bar and snacks were free! He had specifically said, "All inclusive - and that includes the bar service in your room. It is all 100% free." When I checked out the bar in the room, it clearly stated that there were individual prices for all of the mini bar items - $2.00 per packet of coffee grounds for the coffee pot, $2.00 per soda, $4.00 per beer, and $2.00 per bottle of water. RIDICULOUS. We ended up at the buffet.

The Solicitation / Gouging

On the way to the buffet during lunch each day and some nights for dinner, we quickly learned that, as was the case on the beach, the only way to avoid being solicited even inside the resort was to be rude. The resort allowed a photography company to set up a booth in the hallway right outside the doorway to the buffet. They would position a photographer about ten feet in front of the doors, and two bikini-clad women would stand IN the doorways. As you walked up to enter the buffet area, they would hold out their arms to trap embrace you while posing for a picture - which (of course) you could pay for later on. Even when I would walk in with my arm around Wife, they constantly tried to cajole me into getting my picture taken. Eventually I had to turn up my volume and very coldly almost shout, "No!" without slowing before they would get out of the way and let us go in to eat. So annoying...

I couldn't believe how much the resort tried to gouge us for internet access. If I brought my laptop to the lobby, they wanted to charge me $15 per day to use the wifi password. If I wanted to use their computer it was $5 for 8 minutes, or $10 for 15 minutes. This didn't even make any sense, as it was actually more expensive to pay for the larger unit of time instead of less. To rent a MiFi mobile hotspot, it was a minimum charge of 2 days at $15 per day on top of a $140 deposit in cash to cover any damage to the device.

I ended up just purchasing the smallest international data plan possible on my phone so that we could have internet access in case of an emergency. We basically unplugged for the week, which wasn't all bad in itself. Just kind of annoying to be at such a nice "all-inclusive" place, and have them continuously trying to squeeze more money out of us.

The Second Leaky Room

On the second-to-last day, it rained the whole day. No big deal - we expected at least a little rain. It's a tropical paradise, so there's gotta be rain. We spent the day in the room, watching TV and reading. Very relaxing!

The following morning, I awoke to Wife's exclamations:

Wife: "Husband! My clothes are all wet?"

Me, groggily: "Huh? What do you mean?"

Wife: "Exactly what I said - my suitcase and all my clothes are wet!"

I walked over, and sure enough - all of her clothes were wet as I bent over to inspect her suitcase. Just then, a big fat drop of water landed on the back of my head. I looked up, and there was a huge wet spot where a leak had penetrated the ceiling. It had been dripping into Wife suitcase all night.

As I walked into the bathroom to find a towel to use to try to soak up some of the water, my right foot almost shot right out from under me. There was a huge puddle in the middle of the hallway from, you guessed it, a second leak in the roof. I dried it up after moving Wife's suitcase, then moved the trash can to catch the dripping water before calling the front desk:

Me: "Hi, we're in room 763. Yes, we're the ones that moved from room 248 earlier this week. Well, you're not going to believe this, but our room is leaking water in two different places - one of which was right above my wife's suitcase and soaked all of her clothing over night."

Front Desk - SIGH. "So, do you want to move again?"

I was a bit flabbergasted. We were conversing in Spanish - the desk attendant's first language - so there was no language barrier that could be causing any misunderstanding of courtesy. They just didn't care. Since it was our last full day there, I didn't want to go through the hassle of packing up, moving everything, and unpacking again just for one day. I had the air conditioning running, so the room wouldn't get mildewy or stagnant in one day.

Me: "No, that's not necessary. I just thought you would like to know that you have water leaking from the ceiling of one of your rooms."

Front Desk: "OK. I'll send someone up so you can show them where the leaks are."

Not one apology. Not even a "thank you" for letting them know. We waited around for about a half hour for someone to come up before we went to dinner. The ceiling continued to leak until all the water from the previous day's rainstorm had dried up outside. They never attempted to fix anything while we were there, which was nice.

The Transportation

Later that day (our second to last) I called the agent from earlier in the week to arrange our transportation to the airport the following day. At first he didn't remember who I was, so I explained, and he told me to expect the transportation van at 11:50am. He recommended checking out by 11:30am  to be on time.

The next day, we were in the lobby by 11:00am to check out, just to be sure we were on time. We waited. And waited. 11:50am came and went, with no shuttle arriving. I asked around, and the agent was nowhere to be found. Neither was anyone else from his company, "VIP Travel Services." After 25 more minutes of waiting, I called the agent on his cell phone using the lobby desk's phone:

Me, after explaining who I was: "I called you yesterday about leaving the Bavaro Princess resort to get to the airport today. We've been waiting-"

Agent: "You didn't call me yesterday."

Me: "Yes, I did, and you told me to check out today by 11:30am and to expect the transportation service at 11:50am."

Agent: "You definitely did not speak with me yesterday, but if you had I would have told you to expect the transportation van at noon, not 11:50am."

Me: "Okay, well my question is still pertinent. It is 12:20pm right now, and the van still isn't here, so I just wanted to make sure that it was actually coming."

Agent: "The van should be there soon, but if it doesn't come in the next fifteen minutes, you should take a taxi."

Me: "How much does a taxi cost from this resort to the airport?"

Agent: "About $35."

Awesome. At that point I would have paid anything just to get back to the airport, but at least I had a plan. The van ended up arriving ten minutes later - a total of 45 minutes late. We were SO relieved, which just hopped in and took off. We made the plane with plenty of time, and couldn't be happier to make it back home.

----

In the end, the vacation was 100% NOT worth the (in my opinion) crazy amount of savings that we spent on it. The time spent with Wife (and not spent studying!) was worth the money, but we both would have been much happier if we had just stayed at home or gone to a hotel in Florida for much less money. We learned a valuable lesson though - we like cruises :)

We have a ton of great pictures from the vacation, but I just don't have the energy to put them up after that crazy post... The past two weeks have been awesome. Tons of time spent with family and friends over Christmas and New Years, followed by the most recent days spent hanging out on the home turf with Wife.

Just a few more days before the next semester of classes starts on Monday. Still trying not to think about that too much... Hopefully I'll be getting back to a more regular posting schedule in the next few days. Stay tuned.

12 comments:

Tee said...

wow! talk about a vacation nightmare. Sorry to hear you two had one hell of a vacation. I am making a note to myself- research, research before selecting a vacation spot after one heavy semester or just stay home (ha!). You two are very very brave. All the best to you this semester!

Anonymous said...

Hello and Happy New Year.
I am posting this because I saw a review your wife wrote about Bavaro Princess on Trip Advisor and she included your blog address in it.

I am older, have been to many places all over the world, many many resorts in the Caribbean and once I found the BP I stopped looking elsewhere. I've been there 13 times now and I adore the place and the people, and since your blog was posted I thought I would add my two cents.

1) The hotel/resort doesn't suggest meeting with your rep, it's the tour company/airline you booked with.
you'll find the same thing at any resort, the reps will provide trip info but spend a lot of time selling excursions
(their employers don't pay a whole lot so this is how they make money.Any problems there are not the hotels fault.
Your departure issues have nothing to do with the hotel. Your beef lies with your tour operator. Having said that, the counter in the front lobby where all the reps hang is supposed to have your flight times and suggested check out times in a book on that counter freely available to view even if the rep isn't there

2) A resort in the Dominican(or anywhere else in the Caribbean) is rated by the tour operator/airline...not the resort itself.
there is a quantitive difference between a "5 star" there and a 5 star here. There are TRUE 5, 6 and 7 star resorts in places like
Punta Cana if you can afford 14k a week or more for two people(look em up...they're easy to find).

3) Any call you make from your room you get charged for...that's standard. If you only got a messaging service that's your
operators fault not the hotel.

4) There ARE no closed beaches in the Dominican. They are all public beaches(by law) unless the resort pays/gets permission
to close it(most don't try unless they're those 14k a week and up places which usually do so without any problem.)
The platinum beach section IS closed off but only the bed area and there security keeps the vendors away from you.
The resorts have a certain amount of beach area and past that it's totally public. If you stay close to the resort while on the beach you don't get bothered nearly as much as security keeps vendors down by the water. And btw those people ARE NOT making spectacles of themselves...they are trying to earn a living!

5) I always stay in Platinum. Room service is free and easy to get. Even with that, no matter what room I get there is that
little menu card saying how much coffee, beer and pop is. It's in all the rooms because all the rooms get rented out to
various people, from non all inclusive guests, to locals and others. They don't take that menu out because maid staff don't know who is going to be there next. Further to that and again by Dominican law, if a resort has any available rooms on the weekend and a local can afford it, they must rent the room to the local(again why the menu stays). IF you are all inclusive you ignore that menu pricing card. Again...staying in Platinum they have free internet and computers in the Platinum Lounge. I check mail twice a day for a total of maybe 10 minutes. Btw...those 14k a week and up resorts I mentioned all have free WiFi in rooms, lobby etc.

6) the easiest way to deal with the photogs and the bikini ladies is to stop for 30 seconds, smile and go on your way. Nobody holds a gun to your head to buy pics and it's just people doing their job. It's the same thing at the airport going in.


7) My only comment about the food is I've never been disappointed anytime I have been there(and I'm a picky eater).


8) Truly sorry about your room fiasco and not sure why you wouldn't have been moved promptly the first time...that's an issue you should write to the resort about.

Simon

Justin said...

@Simon - Thank you very much for your response. I appreciate you taking the time to write about your satisfaction with the various aspects of the resort, and I am glad that you have been happy with your stays there as a Platinum member. Perhaps they are more courteous to you if you pay the Platinum price?

Regardless, we had far too many issues with the resort to give it another try in the future. I'm sure those 14K per week places are nicer, but I don't think anyone should have to pay that much for a vacation. :) We will shop around a bit more and read more reviews before deciding on another place. After we got back, we read some of the reviews on Trip Advisor. While there were many generic "we had a great time / loved the beautiful beaches / this is an awesome resort" positive comments with five stars, there were more "leaky room / terrible staff attitudes & treatment / stuff got stolen from our room" comments than I would have thought possible, given our travel agent's recommendation.

Also, I haven't written about it on here, but a few days after we got back from the trip, we got a call from our bank. Apparently, my wife's debit card (which we had kept in our safe in the room and never used ONCE anywhere on our trip) number had been stolen and was being used overseas for purchases that had tripped the bank's security filters. We immediately cancelled our card and got our money back, but I don't really believe our stay at a resort with such unprofessional behavior and poor quality standards followed immediately by my wife's debit card being stolen is truly a coincidence...

Thanks again for your opinions Simon, and I am glad that you have found it to be a place worth your vacation time and money. I wish you all the best!

Anonymous said...

(If you get more than one post from me this time, it is because I am having a terrible time - almost like your vacation - trying to get past the "prove you are not a robot.")

How awful, especially since you two truly earned and deserved that vacation! What did your travel agent say, and have you found an new agent yet? Tricia

Justin said...

Hahaha, no worries Tricia. I wish I could turn that thing off, but when I tried it a while back I got a million bot posts each day that I had to sort through for the real comments.

Thanks for the sympathy - and no, I haven't heard anything from my travel agent. We'll probably be going with a different travel agent in the future, though we haven't found one yet. We also might just book our own vacation... We'll see. First thing's first - get through this next semester...

Kris Tremblay said...

Justin are you serious? I mean ok I give you the leaking ceiling but anyone who knows anything about the DR and Bavaro beach, knows it is not a private beach... you do see the peddlers, say NO thanks and walk away... and then you complain about every restaurant and every buffet... seriously, what are you expecting? My husband and I are avid travellers and we have been to Punta Cana multiple times... It is a great place and the people selling their wears on the beach are making money ignore them, they are not a rich country like Canada or the US and if you treat them with a wee bit of respect you get it in return. If you have issues, why talk to your tour director, they may assist in the situation but when it comes to needing to change rooms, get a hold of yourself and go to the lobby and speak to them in person rather than the phone... We've had issues elsewhere in DR and just a talk with the manager or lobby attendant and things were worked out. I am sorry you and your wife had so much trouble but even with your cruise for your honeymoon... looks like you need to get your nose out of your textbooks while booking a trip and really see what you are getting yourself into.
all I can say is sorry but its a vacation... go and relax...

Justin said...

@Kris - I have nothing against Punta Cana, nor do I have anything against the people selling things on the beach. Just as I was entitled to my opinion about my experience (that, I would like to note, I experienced and you did not), you are entitled to your opinion about my opinion. However, sarcasm is unnecessary and childish, serving only to create an atmosphere of harshness. Please try to be more respectful with how you comment on my blog in the future.

As for the comments about my cruise for our honeymoon, it appears that you did not do your homework. I meticulously planned and purchased our honeymoon on my own, without a travel agency. I bought hotel tickets, plane tickets, and cruise tickets, planning everything perfectly. And then the Swine Flu hit Mexico, and the cruise line changed our cruise without notifying me. I only found out by random chance a few weeks before we got married, and had to scramble to arrange another honeymoon - which I did all on my own, without a travel agency. We ended up having a great time on our honeymoon in the end.

This trip to the Bavaro Princess Resort was the first time we ever used a travel agency, and honestly, it is kind of frustrating to come on here and get scolded for not "getting my nose out of my textbooks while planning a trip." Even though we used a travel agency, a lot of careful thought and discussion went into selecting this trip, both with and without our specific agent, and it ended up being a trip that made my wife cry multiple times out of frustration. We went on this trip, and only we know what our treatment and experience were really like. You ask what I expect?

- I expect to be treated with respect.
- I expect to not pay thousands of dollars to get not one but TWO leaky rooms.
- I ask to not be woken up when I am sleeping on the beach by people who want to sell me sunglasses when it is obvious that I already have a pair.
- I expect to not have to constantly dodge solicitors inside the resort buildings when all I want to do is walk down the hallway to the food court.
- I expect to eat chicken that is thoroughly cooked and not pink and slushy in the middle.
- I expect to not have to wait two hours to sit down to eat.
- I expect to be able to relax on a vacation, as you suggested, though why you assume that I was simply choosing to not relax is a little beyond me. When all of the above expectations are so blatantly not met, it makes it pretty difficult to do that.

As I said earlier, everyone has their right to an opinion, which is why I chose to let you have your say and posted your comment. Please try to be more respectful with how you voice that opinion. All of that being said, thank you very much for reading, and for sharing your thoughts. I might not agree with you, but that does not mean it isn't valuable to hear someone else's opinion. I just wish you could have been there with us on this trip, as I think then you would be singing a different tune.

Eric Northman said...

God I feel compelled to respond because I swear to god, it reads like you were on MY honeymoon at the Bavaro Princess Resort.

We shelled out thousands of our savings to have one of the most awful experiences I have had to date. Our first night, the AC in the room didnt work and the room smelled like Mildew. I spent my whole life picturing about how awesome my first night on my honeymoon was gunna be and it wasnt sweating my bawlz off in 100 degree heat with a room that smelled like an old forgotten gym locker room. I called down and got the same attitude you guys got. They couldnt even move us until the next day.

You are NOT kidding about that food....it was fucking deplorable. The buffet, the breakfast, the restaurants, and the room service was the lowest class food quality I have ever seen. Bella Pasta...as soon as I got to this part I laughed out loud because my wife and I also wanted to contest the "Best food at the Resort" title. One of the days, I didnt even eat! Our honeymoon package came with a "dinner on the beach" which was LOLtastic trying to eat with crazy winds blowing everything everywhere. Picture the scene in Superman 2 when Zod is blowing everything down the street and that one guy is still trying to eat his sandwich.

The only experiences I had that you didn't mention was, i got chased by those rabid street dogs and I couldn't have been more terrified of needing medical attention in that god forsaken cesspool of a country. The other was, there were weird dudes on the beach filming woman, my wife included, in the most creepy ways. I seen what looked like a cop and tried to tell him but he just blew me off.

I got offered coke, weed, and ecstasy and actually thought about it because I was having such a horrible time but the fear of getting caught and having to see how great their legal system is to foreigners, kept me on the straight and narrow.

We had the same shitty run-ins with our "Vacation Rep" regarding the transportation to the airport.

I complained to Apple, the hotel, the ownership company, my old lady neighbor, and now to you lol and got zero restitution. I oddly found some comfort in hearing someone else have such a horribly shitty experience at the same exact place as us. When my wife gets home from the hospital, I am going to read your blog to her lol

I will NEVER set foot in that country ever again....

Justin said...

@Eric Northman - I'm sorry to hear that someone else had a rough experience, but you're right - it's oddly therapeutic to read about someone else going through the same stuff. Thanks for commenting - and thanks for reading! Hopefully it helps your wife to hear about it as well - and congratulations on your marriage!

Anonymous said...

While bored in the hospital I came across your blog while searching for getting sick at the bavaro princess Dominican Republic. I found your blog very interesting and humorous considering why Im in the hospital. My husband and I decided to take our honeymoon at the Bavaro Princess resort. This ended up being a expensive honeymoon.
The first part of the trip was fine. The beach is beautiful and the solicitors are annoying overall ok.
The nightmare began on the day before we were to go back home. Roughly 30 min after I ate lunch at the buffet that overlooks the ocean I started feeling dizzy and uncomfortable which I thought was because it was so hot outside. While at dinner which took a very long time I told my husband that we needed to leave because I felt like I was going to pass out. We rushed to the room and I had the runs for the entire night and the next day for traveling. I also had the dizzy feeling again.

1day after we got back home I started to get flu like symptoms such as chills, sore throat, temperature. I figured I may have got food poisoning and thought it was running it's course and if I didn't feel better in a couple days which was over the weekend I would go to the doctor on Monday. I ended up feeling terrible so went to my doctor and told her about my symptoms and my recent trip to the Dominican Republic. She sent me to the ER and the ER admitted me to the hospital where I learned that I have a extreme bacterial infection which has landed me with an IV pumping antibiotics in my system. I've been here for 3 DAYS . I get to go home tomorrow.. I'm very excited!!! It's nice to know that apparently Im not the only one that had a bad experience there.

The Nash said...

Wow. First I cant believe I read all of that. You write well if that's the case. And wow what a vacation.
I am wary of new places when I travel and I look for blogs like this that tell a different story. I would have been pissed and quite upset with the lack of service. I am sorry for what you went through. I see a comment by someone that has been there umpteenth time and while I see there point it is kind of blaming you for the problems you had. Like you should know better.

I am from the Caribbean and I live in the Caribbean so I like the travel in the Caribbean. My wife and her friends recently went to Punta Cana and had a great time even though there where some issues along the way.

Best advice I can give you is not to let bad experiences ruin it for you. Do continue to travel and read a bit deeper about places before you go. Ps I have had some of the same issues you have but never to that level.

Please read my wife's blog about her trip here at http://www.myanguillaexperience.com/vacation-punta-cana/

Denise said...

We just booked this resort for our honeymoon. Reading your blog is eye opening.

I'm scared!!!!

I hope things have changed over the past two years.!

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