We stayed at the Esmeralda in early July 2011 and had a good time with few negative comments. I will try to keep this brief. The grounds are immaculate. Most of the staff is friendly but the expectance of tipping by the wait staff of the restaurants is very unprofessional. Since most of them work almost every day, if you don’t tip you receive very slow service. The food was good. Nothing to write home about but there was always something you could find to eat. The pool is very nice. Some do not like the temperature of the water, which is akin to a warm bath. The beach is average. The resort allows people to “reserve” (with towels, clothing, books, etc.) beach loungers. We saw shaded lounges go unused for hours because someone had put their stuff on them in the middle of the night/very early morning and did not use them. They really need to enforce the no reserving loungers rule they have. Also the amount of seaweed during our stay was at times overwhelming. The resort did a good job every morning of raking the beach but by late afternoon the seaweed returned. There was always seaweed floating on and of course on the bed of the water. Being part of the larger GBP resort has its advantages as well. There are plenty people to socialize with if you like. The shows are on par with what you find at most Caribbean resorts. The drinks are average.
I have been to the D.R. six times now in various resorts. This time I traveled with my two sons in their 20's and one of their friends. We had a wonderful time! We stayed at the Esmeralda, which is close to the beach - I highly recommend this (or the Anbar Adults Only), because the other resorts are very far from the beach, requiring a shuttle ride. The shuttles do come frequently. This is the only negative about this resort as a whole - it's not just huge, it's MASSIVE. It is 5 or 6 different sub-resorts all stuck together. The Esmeralda is one of the smallest sections, right on the beach. All of the sections have similar amenities (pools, shops, etc.), but Esmeralda is perfect as it's like being in a small resort even though you are in a huge one! That said, it is hard to get around to the other resorts without the shuttle. This didn't bother us - being close to the beach was all we needed, and the little Esmerald had everything we wanted. Also, because Esmeralda is one of the upgraded resorts, you can use the facilities/amenities at any of the other Bahia resorts (restaurants, etc.), such as the Gourmet restaurant, which is in the Anbar - and was excellent. Food ranged from okay to quite delicious, just depending on which restaurant you chose. The buffet was good enough. Rodizio was just okay. Gourmet was excellent. On Tuesday nights, there is a seafood buffet at the buffet - skip the a la cartes that night and do the seafood buffet, which was absolutely fantastic (lobster, shrimp, you name it!). There are bars everywhere, and every resort has at least one swim-up bar (Esmeralda had two). Note: We did NOT get sick on this trip, from either the food or the drinks. We always used bottled water to drink and brush teeth, but had no problems, even eating things like lettuce, which is usually a culprit. Oh: Eat the ice cream - it's absolutely delicious, not the usual "ice milk" that you get at other resorts. Rooms are very large, spotless and comfortable. Great shower pressure, nice bathroom amenities (hair dryer, bath products, etc.). The maids came at a reasonable time every day and did a nice job cleaning. If you leave them a buck or two, they'll leave you extra towels. Not a lot of English spoken here, but with a few words of Spanish and a language app, we did just fine! Everyone was friendly and accommodating. The ocean and beach were gorgeous. There are many palapas (little hut shades) and beach chairs. You have to get there before 8am to get a great seat, but there's ALWAYS a seat available. The CheapCaribbean on-site rep was great. We always book through CheapCaribbean and plan to continue to do so. Best prices, best service. Kudos. I could go on, but you get the idea. Overall, after having stayed at numerous other resorts, we just loved the Bahia Principe Esmeralda,. GO AND ENJOY!
My wife and I just came back from Gran Bahia Principe Esmeralda after spending 5 nights in the resort. In June of last year we had stayed at the Ambar section (adults only) of the Gran Bahia Principe complex and we thought that after a great experience there last year nothing would compare. Unfortunately, the resort was at full capacity this time around, so we had to decide between trying a different resort or staying at Esmeralda. We researched for days and after many hours we decided to stay at Gran Bahia Principe Esmeralda and we are so glad we did! By booking this resort we had access to all of the hotels in the Gran Bahia Principe complex which gave us an opportunity to try a bit of everything. If we felt like relaxing we headed to the Ambar section for peace and quiet time at the pool and beach while sipping on some amazing drinks. If you are at the Ambar and you are at the swim up bar make sure to see Elvis and Desire who prepared us the best drinks and provided us with a service that we will never forget for the second consecutive year. If we wanted a bit more action we headed to the Punta Cana / Bavaro hotel where there are a ton of activities going on all day at the beach or in the pool area. We had a blast in this area and the fun seemed to be never-ending! When we wanted to keep things simple and yet fun we stayed at the Esmeralda hotel where everything exceeded our expectations. When it came to the food, we have zero complaints! The food was amazing and the variety of foods kept us coming back for more every time. We love to have fun after a long day at the pool and beach, so at night we headed to Pueblo Principe for live entertainment, Casino, Karaoke or our favorite the nightclub. We had some great times at the nightclub and it kept us going back every night. If you would like to step out of the complex to have some fun in the city and want to dance check out Mangu nightclub, which us open until the sun comes up. Overall we have zero complaints whatsoever about our stay and we are dying to go back already! The service, grounds, food, drinks, entertainment, weather and overall experience was excellent and as a result we are already planning our next trip to Punta Cana and our third stay at the Gran Bahia Principe Resorts.
Pros: Beautiful sprawling resort, nice rooms, good staff, great pools and beach (but always crowded, hard to find chairs), great bars with good spirits Cons: Awful food, feels like no effort is made in its preparation. This becomes a problem if you're staying there 5+ days and are basically dependent on their food. Dominican Food is not authentic and tasteless. No special meats and specialty foods like smoked salmon are quickly depleted and not replenished. Desserts are the worst part of the meal, in any restaurants and any buffet in the resort. Very poor quality and sometimes not edible (cheesecake like gelatin, dry chocolate cake, etc..) Also poor internet connection This is my 6th caribbean resort vacation in the last several years and it ranks in the the bottom two in respect to food. For the higher price I was hoping the quality of the food would be better. In my opinion, the resort needs to completely revamp its chef crew and menu otherwise I don't see myself returning.
Service and cleanliness were exceptional. Some dining options/dishes were a bit hit or miss, but overall fantastic and plenty of variety. Free palapas on the beach, in room jacuzzis, and 24 hour butler service are a plus and can be rare at other all-Inclusives. Room decor is a bit dated, but clean. Fridge didn't get very cold. Be careful ordering top shelf specialty drinks, like cognac. They're not included and they tack on tax and tip and charge them to your room, even if you give a cash tip upon ordering them.
I read tons of reviews but was not disappointed in any way with the Esmerelda. The rooms were very spacious, clean and nicely appointed. The staff was friendly and helpful. The food was sometimes good other times excellent. The Japanese restaurant Maiko was the best! The gounds and pool areas were lovely. And the beach was great! I travelled with 2 girlfriends and all of us would return in a heartbeat!
Chose this allinclusive from cheapcaribbean traveling with 4 other adults and was unexpectedly placed in two rooms (requested) which were adjoined (not expecting), so that was nice. Was immediately greeted at the checkin counter with a cool cloth and pina colada, nice touch. Everyone was hungry at that time, 4pm, and unfortunately there aren't any buffets or restaurants open for food between 330-6 so we ate at the "snack bar" area at one of the restaurants. Food: the best food is served at the restaurants which need reservations, absolutely make these in advance. I'm not a picky eater but did not like the food at the two buffets at the esmerelda. Pool: water was clean, chairs seemed to be claimed early in the am Beach: esmerelda was very close walk (seconds) to the beach. Beach has chairs and umbrellas setup. Waiters take orders for drinks. Literally paradise. Never had a problem finding chairs. Drinks: top shelf liquor and el Principe beer on draft Rooms: bathroom had jet tub and standup shower with toilet in separated stall. Very clean. Housekeeping did a great job. No elevators in this resort and 2-3 levels high. Mini fridge stocked with waters, sodas and snacks, included in all inclusive and restocked once daily Entertainment: we bought an excursion through the resort which ended up being cheaper than if bought anywhere else. Had nightly entertainment by the pool (Michael Jackson impersonator, jazz music etc) Would absolutely go back to this resort!
The Gran Bahia Principe Esmeralda was probably the nicest of the four properties. Having said that, the trip was just okay. The service was not very friendly nor did anyone go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. In fact, the staff does not seem too happy to be there. The all-inclusive was a good experience for me and there was less to worry about. The room was the best part of the trip. It was spacious for two people. Nice bed, balcony and separate shower and jacuzzi area. The restaurants required reservations. We were able to get 4 reservations for our 6 nights at the Esmeralda, but some of the restaurants that we really wanted were sold out unfortunately. The food was just okay - same food every day for breakfast and lunch. The restaurant food was not much better. The Japanese hibachi restaurant was the best, followed by the Mediterranean one. Other than that the Mexican was the worst!! My boyfriend actually got sick from that one, and the Italian isn't much better. For an Italian restaurant it was surprising that they didn't have standard items like spaghetti and meatballs. The Gran Bahia Esmeralda does not seem to appreciate Americans. I think we found about 2 employees that actually spoke English. It catered much more to Europeans and Canadians. The beaches are topless and so this can be a very different experience for an American. Not what I had hoped for, but we did manage to still have a fabulous time. Also, there is a lot of seaweed and I was used to the crystal clear waters of Mexico. In addition, there is a marketplace wtih very pushy sellers (feels like just got off of a cruise ship), not to mention the actual Gran Bahia Principe staff who are constantly pushing the upgraded Priviledge Club which is not worth it at all!! Lastly, I will close with some good news that my boyfriend and I got a day pass to the Hard Rock Punta Cana and it was one of the best days of my life!! The beaches are much cleaner and there are no topless people running around getting drunk. None of the restaurants at the Hard Rock required reservations and so we actually ate at the Toro Steakhouse on our one day pass. It was fantastic!! The servers are funny and engaging, and they all speak English. The food was fresh and delicious. They use top shelf liquor and everything (not catches) is included!. There were numerous pools and even an adult pool if sunbathing in the nude is your thing! The casino was awesome and we won $40 bucks. The shops and nighlife is everything that you could ask for. I would highly recommend paying the higher price to stay at the Hard Rock Punta Cana and forget about the Gran Bahia Principe. Just my honest opinion. I hope it helps!
Let me start off by saying " I couldn't have dreamed of a better Birthday ". The rooms were clean and beautiful, along with an amazing landscape. The food was sooo delicious ( you have to try the seafood salad at the buffet ). All the amenities that this resort offers are unbelievable, and trust me they are alot more then what was listed when we made our reservations. The staff is amazing and there wasn't a day that they weren't smiling and singing as they worked. I would like to give a special thanks to Yenny for her wonderful service, it was almost like she was psychic. I kid you not, before I could even ask for something she was knocking at the door with it and more. Not to mention that when she found out it was my Birthday she went above and beyond to make it special. Here's a picture of what I came back to after a day of dune buggy on my birthday. I also would like to think Yuleyda for being my personal translator, lol. I will definitely be visiting this resort again. Next time I'll know a little more Spanish.
The resort was absolutely beautiful! Everything was clean, and well maintained, no detail seemed too small. The people at the hotel and beyond were very friendly, helpful and good at their jobs. The best advice I can give is if you want pool space, do get up early (7ish) and "reserve" your lounges with towels and/or books. It's easier to get space on the beach but you may want to claim a space early there too. Go with the flow, when they talk about "Dominican time" they mean it. As long as you remember you're on vacation and make plans with Dominican time in mind, then it just won't matter that some things take a little longer. The food was good, a huge variety and if you're into eating healthy, don't worry, you will have plenty of delicious choices. Make any reservations for dinners as soon as you get there. We gave our choices to the concierge and he made the reservations for us, spreading them out during the week. Please consider tipping generously, they all work so hard and are truly appreciative of your tips. One waiter on our second night could tell we were all upset (family squabble!) and he managed to have us all laughing and happy to be together in no time! All the people there are about having a good time and want you to enjoy your time in their country.