On my recent trip to Punta Cana Dominican Republic I stayed at the Bahia Principe Luxury Esmeralda hotel. Bahia Principe has quite a few hotels in the Dominican Republic. The ones in Punta Cana are all on the same property. There is the Bahia Principe Grand Punta Cana, Grand Turquesa, Grand Bavaro, Grand Aquamarine, Luxury Ambar, Luxury Esmeralda, and The Bahia Principe Fantasia Punta Cana.
After researching those hotels and some of the RUI hotels which were next door, we decided to go with the Bahia Principe Luxury Esmeralda. The photos were nice, the YouTube videos were positive and in addition, it was close to the beach and the price seemed fair.
The Luxury Esmeralda is one of the smaller hotels in the group of the Bahia Principe line up in Punta Cana, but regardless of that it does have a lot to offer. It has 570 rooms, 5 restaurants and 3 bars, a spa and although the hotel doesn’t mention that it has a gym, there is one next to the spa that it shares with the Bahia Principe Fantasia. It also has 2 pools, a Jacuzzi, as well as a water park, and giftshops.
We stayed in a Junior Suite Deluxe that came with either 2 full size canopy beds or 1 King, but we asked at the front desk for a room with 2 beds and something on the upper floors. Each building goes up to 3 floors and there are no elevators, so keep that in mind.
We got our room with the 2 canopy beds (side note: the curtains on the canopy does not cover the entire bed) it also came with a sofa which I am not sure if it’s a sofa bed or just a regular sofa. While booking on the website it did not mention that there was a sofa bed in the room but sites like booking.com and Expedia mentions a sofa bed, plus I also took the liberty of calling to find out and after being put on hold for sometime I was told that they do come with a sofa bed. Honestly, it looked like a regular sofa to me with removable cushions. I am not sure how comfortable someone would be sleeping on it.
There was also a a small table with chairs, a dresser, television, desk, a closet that had a safe and 2 bathrobes. There was also suppose to be slippers but we didn’t find any. There were 2 comforters in the closet as well, hangers, a iron and a table top ironing board. After taking down one of the comforters, I found a ball of hair in it, so I requested new ones and used that one for the bathroom window because the curtains for the window were not long enough. More privacy please! 🙂
The bathroom had both a shower and a separate jacuzzi style tub, a double sink vanity and the toilet had it’s own private stall within the bathroom. The room also had a mini fridge loaded with 2 packs of nuts, sodas, 2 cans of beers which were restocked every day if you used any but not the nuts. We also had a patio with a view of one of the RUI hotels.
My main issues with the room are one, it wasn’t equipped well enough with electrical outlets to charge our devices. First we had a problem finding them, except for the one next to the lamp on the dresser. When I asked one of the housekeepers he showed me one behind the nightstand between the beds and one behind the dresser where the television was, both of which you would have to draw the furniture away from the wall to see. I think that could be hazardous.
The next thing I found an issue with was the television, I think for a hotel of that size the tv was small about 20″ and the channels were not that clear and most of them were in Spanish. I do understand that Spanish is their main language but it could be mixed up more. Plus, there was no guide to tell you where to find what so we had to flip until we found one that we were okay with which turned out to be the cartoon channel. It wouldn’t have been my first choice.
I guess you maybe saying, we were there on vacation why do we need the tv, but there were times before bed when we chilled and just wanted to watch some tv before going to bed or just wanted to watch it when we weren’t out and about. It wasn’t a big deal, however, nothing to discredit the hotel for. One thing I found to be interesting though is that there were no wash cloths in the bathroom, the small ones, and they didn’t seem to know what I was talking about.
As far as dining goes, there are 2 main restaurants which serves up fantastic buffet meals, Los Geranios and Jazmin. Then there is Takara an oriental restaurant, Bella Italia an Italian restaurant, and Rodizio Arrecife a Brazilian style restaurant located by the beach.
You can go in for dinner at the 2 main restaurants and select from a variety of choices laid before you, each evening the staff try to mix up the cuisine. My first evening, I had a seafood casserole, with fried squid, some pasta, roast fish, and spring rolls, plus there is always fruits, vegetables, and dessert. You will also find foods like pizza, fries, and fried chicken. There are waiters in the restaurant who will take your drink orders.
For breakfast I have seen boiled eggs both chicken and quail, scrambled eggs, corn on the cobb, bacon, French toast, and more. There is a smoothie station where you can go to have your smoothies made just the way you like it and just like for dinner you can request juice, tea, or coffee from the waiter. You can also request certain things to be cooked as there is a cooking station there during breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The other restaurants mentioned are reservations only. I didn’t eat at the Bella Italia or the Takara restaurant but we did make a reservation for the Rodizio Arrecife. At this restaurant the service of the meat seems to be the highlight. The servers takes a big skewer or sword of meat to your table and ask if you would like any and if yes they slice a piece of the meat unto your plate. This style of service is called Espeto Corrido. We were given a menu with the line up of meats but that night we didn’t get any chicken or sausages, it was 3 rounds of steak. For the two of us we only got one plate of side dish that consisted of a small piece of corn on the cobb, a scoop of rice, some grilled vegetables stacked on top of each other, a piece of broccoli, and what looked like a baked potato. I mean that would suffice for one person, but for two, oh no. I didn’t bother to eat anything from the plate. Oh and before that we got some fried plantain chips which were very hard.
While we waited for the food we went to the salad bar to get some salad since we weren’t sure what kind of restaurant it was and no one came to take our order or anything of the sort. Also we asked for pina colada and we were able to get them, they tasted good but they couldn’t find a single straw for us to drink with so we ended up grabbing some spoons from the salad bar. My brother wanted to go back to the buffet where we were eating for most of the week, but it was close to closing time.
In addition to the restaurants at the Luxury Esmeralda you can also make reservations at other restaurants at the other Bahia hotels, the choice of restaurants you can book would be found on the Bahia Principe app.
One thing I can say for sure is that staying at the Luxury Esmeralda you will not be easily bored because there is always something going on. During the days on the beach you can find activities like frisbee, jenga, and volley ball. Some of these are prized competitions where the winner is awarded a prize during the nightly show. One day while sitting on the beach I was asked if I wanted to join the salsa session, I don’t know what happened to it though because the staff member never came back. I believe they may not have gotten enough participants.
In the afternoons they have activities for kids like dance sessions and clowns, then later on in the night, for the adults there is, signing, dancing, acrobatic shows, theatrical dance performances and so on. During certain times when it’s just music playing members of the entertainment staff would come and grab you to dance and before you know it there would be a group of people doing the bachata or merengue. They also have games for the audience. On one of the nights we were there there was a beach party and sometimes there are other events going on at the other hotels or the Bahia Village that you can attend.
The beach is shared with all the other Bahia Principe hotels, plus the RIU hotels. However, the areas are sectioned off for who belongs where. For example one side of the beach had a sign for The Fantasia hotel. During our stay the beach was not very clean, it was filled with sea weeds all over and the water itself was rough and looked a bit dark, it may have been due to the sea weeds.
While lounging on one of the beach chairs one day there was a staff with a machine trying to clean up the weeds, which I think could have been a hazard especially with kids running back and forth. On our last morning there the sand was much cleaner but the water looked darker. That was a turn off for us so we didn’t go into the water at all during our entire stay.
You will find that there are a lot of vendors on the beach, so be prepared to be approached ever so often about buying souvenirs, excursions, or jewelry. One guy had a monkey and just put the monkey on us and asked to hold our phone, he took our pictures and then ordered money from us and I am not talking about $20 either. He wanted 6000 pesos which was $111 USD to be exact. I felt like we got hustled and I was not too happy about it.
In addition there are also water activities like diving, kayaking, snorkeling, and parasailing available on the beach for 1 hour and is based on availability.
We booked our airport pickup and drop off with our hotel room for 2 people and the price wasn’t bad at all. The company used by the hotel has a desk at the airport and we got a minivan just for the two of us to take us to the hotel. The same company also has a kiosk at the hotel where we could purchase our excursions. We did the Adventure Boogies which included us visiting a cave and riding ATVs and also we chose the Santa Domingo trip. You can find out more about that excursion here.
When we first arrived on site because our hotel is in the back by the beach we were dropped off at the main hotel Bahia Principe Grand Punta Cana. We told the bellhop where we wanted to go and they took us there in a cart, the ride was about 5 minutes. The check-in was not too bad, we were presented with a complimentary beverage. I am not sure how I felt about the concierge who checked us in though, He didn’t seem very friendly and I couldn’t tell if he had a problem with us or that was just his personality.
After check-in we were escorted to our room which was not too far from the lobby and the Jazmin restaurant. The bellhop took our luggage upstairs so at least we didn’t have to lift them as we walk up the stairs. Checking out was a different story. The lobby has a large lounge area where you can sit and enjoy coffee and other self serve beverages, there is also a bar there and you if you want to you could do some shopping in either the cigar shop or the nearby gift shop. There is also a guest services desk and a tour desk inside the lobby.
The hotel also has complimentary Wi-Fi which I would say is so-so. That means it wasn’t that great and it wasn’t that bad. While laying in bed we could get some things done, like check our emails and browse the web, check Instagram and even make video calls, but as I walked towards the patio the signal would get weaker. If you are looking for better service the hotel does offer premium wi-fi for a price.
Each of the pools are large and are located one at each end of the hotel property and the jacuzzi in the middle. Each pool has a swim up bar. The pool closes at around 6pm.
As mentioned before you are able to make reservations at other restaurants located at the other Bahia Principe hotels on the property. You can also go shopping at the Bahia Village which is in front of the Grand Punta Cana. There is also a tennis court and an area that was set up like an American Ninja park (if you have ever seen the show you will understand) lol, that looked as if it was closed at the time. There is also a medical facility and a casino.
Overall I really enjoyed my stay at the hotel and it is somewhere I would stay again. To see my video review of the hotel please click here.