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Reviewed 29 June 2011

My husband and I stayed at Catalonia Royal from Jun 14-21 for our one year anniversary. In general it is a very decent resort and one of the best I had visited.

Upon arrival it was very efficient from getting our luggages to getting on the transit. It took us only about 20 minutes to arrive. As everyone mentioned from before the lobby of the Royal side is way less grand then the sister side. But from my very own point of view, at least I don't get mosquito bites from this small enclosed lobby with nice A/C while the other Bavaro lobby is wide open.

Check-in:
It took us pretty long to check-in and with our luck we were always the last couple left behind waiting for 45 minutes or so after being told it will be ready in 5 min.

Room:
We booked a deluxe junior suite and it was a very nice suite with flat screen tv and DVD player. The player didn't work so we called to have it replaced. There was a hot tub and is not jacuzzi. We did not use it use it during our stay but is nice to have or just to look at. There is also a sitting area and balcony with a hammock. We first were brought to ground floor the first day and we requested 3rd floor as I did requested high floor when I booked. Ground floor had lots of ants on the ground of terrace. And it was lacking privacy. So our 2nd day we switched to 3rd floor without a problem and got a nice garden /tropical view. The bed was little towards the firm side as we had a soft Tempurpedic at home but it was ok. We ordered memory foam pillows from the pillow menu as well. Our maid tidied up the room everyday with towel arts and flowers everyday. We had very quiet air conditioning in the room that works very well and there was no musky smell at all. There were 2 beach towels given everyday in beige and brown strips where the family side has blue ones. I like that our wrist bands are silver in color but not bright colors. They had mini-fridge stocked with pepsi, 7up, water and beer. But it was really not too cold. Just barely keep drinks cold overnight. The curtains were really light proved and my husband and I had nice long sleep.

The only complaint is the shower had NO door to close up the area which I found that odd. Water would splash out easily and lacking privacy if I am not traveling with my bf or spouse. Also bathroom door was a glass door with no lock and was opened up at the upper section. So again, no privacy. It was better if bathroom was not in open concept. But surprisingly the toilet paper they used is very good quality.

Also there are no electrical outlets by the bed. So if you want to plug in the alarm, or to recharge your phone etc, it has to be far away from you.

Ground:
It was very beautiful and can see some ducks, geese and tropical birds at the Catalonia Bavaro side. Also some wild kitties were nice to see running around the complex.

Food:
We ordered room service and breakfast we had American style with eggs with our favorite style and ham (which is sausage) and bacon. They had real fresh fruit juice which I like. lunch was ok with hamburger and I found the chicken caesar salad more like a comfort food but the portion is small so don't just order a salad, it would not be enough. We love the deluxe fries by the burger which were actually deep fried crispy potato wedges but good luck if you want to ask to have fries replaced by wedges when you ordered sandwiches, front desk won't know the differences of fries and potato wedges. Anyway, there's no big deal.

We went to thalasas at the lobby, their steak medallion at dinner was my favorite!! I am a soup loving person, especially after all the drinking with an upset stomach I really craved for a nice hot soup. But seems like you can only find cold soup at lunch time and a ok tasting French onion soup at dinner. Maybe also at the buffet and the Mexican restaurant on the other side. Oh god, the fish dishes at Thalasas was sooooooo fishy. I could only have one bite and feel bad not daring to touch it anymore. And the $20 extra at the Sea Blue, I could smell the fishiness from next table.

And when we were eating at the Mexican, I ordered a soup. It tasted pretty good but it was luke warm. I asked the waiter for another order of soup and I asked if it could be hotter in temperature. I was disappointed to hear him saying "no, I'm sorry." I just wanted it to be hotter so I asked if it could even be microwaved. He just could not make it happen. Was it really that hard to have a hot bowl of soup?

The buffet on the other side was not my favorite. To me there was not much to choose from.

We also had Japanese. The cooks were fun and nice and the shrimps were delicious and crispy fresh! The beef was a bit over done so it was quite tough to bite into. Fried rice looked good but was still raw. I would like to advise the chef that, if you see what most people could not finish on the plate, it could mean those food could be done better. Teriyaki sauce can mix with a bit of water so that it won't be too salty and adding sesame oil could make a big difference! For sushi, the rice doesn't need to be mashed to hardly pressed, a little white vinegar and mayonnaise can be mixed into the rice. The atmosphere of the Japanese restaurant could be better if florescent light was not used. But I have to say all the food have great presentation and all staffs were very nice, professional and attentive.

We also tried Sea Blue, I like the roasted beef sandwich! It was crispy toasted with tender roast beef. It was a beach side semi outdoor restaurant and with 50 mosquito bites all over my body, I would not totally feel relaxed sitting there. Seems like their romantic dinner are tables that were set up on the furthest end at the Sea Blue. So basically we were sitting a few feet away from the romantic dinner area. But I would like to say we love Victor and Cecilia. They are very friendly and attentive!

There was a 24 hour snack bar as well which we didn't hang out there much but was good to have.

Drinks:
Happy to be able to order real Pepsi, 7up and juice because some resorts maybe in Cuba offer copy version of those pop and condensed juice that taste so off all the time. We love drinks at the swimup bar made by Carlos and Luis. Coco loco, Banana Mama taste great! Their beer was not bad, Presidente was the brand. They had Corona but you pay 3 dollars for that. There was a lime and rum refreshing drink called Caipirinha, if they made it good it would be good, a couple times the drink was salty so I think they mixed up salt and sugar! Bloody Mary was good too, just ask them to make it not too spicy and salty. The house red wine and white wine are better than those we had from other resort. Both of the wine are good for pairing with food.

Beach:
Very nice white sand and water was very shallow. My husband and I brought our own snorkeling gears to see the fish. We saw 2 little stingrays and some varieties of tropical fish. The artificial coral reef was some cement tubes and my husband was wishing to see some anemone but there was none. But again it's personal reference so you would be happy to see Ll those fishes anyway. Water was calm with no waves and you walk away from the shore a little bit and crouch down or band down, you will see the fish. For weak swimmer like me would be happy to snorkel like that.

Spa:
We didn't get any massages but there were 2 outdoor jacuzzis with one warm and one hot water. It was nice that we went to the hot tub and it was next to the bathroom at the beach. But really, there was a strong bad odour was blown towards the jacuzzi area occasionally. So you wanted to relax and the odor was not helping.

Entertainment:
We watched the Michael Jackson's show and honestly we saw a fabulous show at the neighbor resort (not to mention name) and they had amazing dancing technique but this Michael Jackson was mostly running around posing and the lip singing was very off. Not much real dancing was involved. So we were not too amazed. And the acrobat performance was alright. We saw the part that the man was on the swing swinging for like 10 times and there were not anything done honestly. So we stood there for a while to see him swing repetitively.

Service:
Great and profession service most of the time, very attentive especially at Thalassas and the Sea Blue and the pool bar. As names were mentioned, Victor, Cecilia, Carlos and Luis were always with happy smile. Brenny with the green eyes :) at the front desk is sincere, friendly and helpful, we like him. People at the Japanese restaurant from the sister side was nice too. Waiters and waitresses should be a little more accommodative and they serve you while talking to another staff and walked away as we were thanking them. Not paying too much attention to details basically. BUT in general we were happy with the service as other than room service took longer for around 45 min., service at the restaurant are quite efficient. We tip the driver giving us a ride, the servers, room service and maids 2-3 dollars on average as tips. They appreciated it.

Club:
This was the best club I had ever been to among 5 different resorts. I like the lighting, setting. Local or salsa music was played from 10:30pm approx to 12:30am straight. They started to play north American music which was pretty good and new only after 12:30am. They had around 12 staffs dancing with people to help the atmosphere. The dj didn't not seem to like his job though. When I was requesting some English songs as the dance floor did not have many people willing to dance but many were standing waiting for a good music, he didn't even want to listen to me with an attitude. I would suggest to have a mix of variety so that it would not be a such a long wait for a different kind of song. But we had fun there most of the time regardless.

Souvenirs:
Vendors were very pushy and they were trained to telling you little personal stories and said they made all the products. Given you a beaded necklace around your neck as a gift and whatever you touched and took a closer look, they would take them out and put onto the tray to give you a very high price which you WOULD NOT pay in your own country. So unless you are really interested to buy, to avoid troubles, when they called you pretty lady aloud or shakedown your hand, well, find your technique to say no and thanks. Souvenirs at the airport were unnecessarily expensive mostly too.

Others:
I don't see any water or power outage during my stay. Water pressure of the shower was good. Most toilet works perfect and were Eco-friendly toilet.

Thanks for the patience for reading this long review. I am a detailed person so although it sounds like there were some negatives, the remaining were all positive. So I would recommend this resort to everyone.

One quick note to all ladies, do not travel alone especially at night by yourself. The 2nd last night, a staff was escorting me and leading me my way to my villa when i was a little lost. And when I arrived, he turned to try forcing a kiss on my lips which I turned away and got my cheek kissed instead as I said no to him. I know Carribean people are all friendly but there were no friendship to start off with there and all of a sudden I was forced to be kissed, that was a little too much. My husband and I filed a report eventually and the staffs seemed to take it pretty professionally and seriously.

I think this resort was high quality. The age group was perfect for us, many young couples and newly weds and some older couples. But if you are single and wish to meet some other singles there, maybe a more casual and cheaper resort in Cuba??

  • Stayed: June 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
4  Thank YonTheChino
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
PuntaCanaCabezaToro, Director General at Catalonia Royal Bavaro, responded to this reviewResponded 1 July 2011

Dear Guest,

Thank you for taking the time to write a review on your stay with us.

We are glad that you enjoyed our restaurants, bars and all our facilities.

Congratulations on your recent Anniversary and once again, thank you for taking the time to write and we look forward to welcoming you back in the not too distant future.

Sincerely,

Josep Castellnou
General Manager

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 June 2011

My review would only repeat what others have said previously, so instead, I will give you a few tips below. I read the reviews for many weeks before coming on this trip. This is really a great way to get an idea of what the resort is like. For the most part, the reviews are very accurate. Just ignore the horrible reviews and the ones that are too good to be true...and you'll get a pretty good idea!
Everyone will of course have their own opinion and their own unique experience. Bottom line is...it's a beautiful place and excellent value for what you pay!! I will definitely recommend it to anyone visiting Punta Cana.

Suggestions: bring a snorkel and a raft for added fun at the beach, the wood fire pizza at the resort next door is a delicious 'quick' lunch, stay informed about the evening entertainment and excursions to find what suits you, EXPLORE around the 2 resorts (the grounds are lovely for a stroll) and most of all, enjoy yourself!!

  • Stayed: June 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank Relaxinginthesun_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 June 2011

Hello! My boyfriend and I just got back from our 7night stay at the Royal Catalonia Bavaro a few days ago. We are in our early-mid twenties and had an overall great experience! We booked through Apple Vacations so our flights and transfers to/from the hotel went smoothly! The hotel as others have mentioned is only about a 10minute ride from the airport which is convenient! The grounds pulling up are beautiful as it is a golf resort. When pulling up to the lobby of the hotel, it definitely doesn't give you a great impression of the resort but I was expecting that from reviews. Their lobby is enclosed and small but is still clean and decorated nicely. We arrived at the resort by 11am but were told are room wasn't going to be ready until 3pm. Were pretty easygoing so that wasn't a huge deal to us. We grabbed a drink in the piano bar which is off of the lobby and went to venture out and check out the rest of the resort. For the details:

Room--When we did eventually get to our room, we didn't notice a musty smell but I think it was because we were so pleasantly surprised with the room. It was clean and decorated nicely with fresh flowers. It was also a decent size with plenty of closet space. As the week went on, the room definitely did develop a smell but after being in there for a few minutes, we didn't notice it anymore. I think the rooms definitely are a bit old and need a lot of work. I brought DampRid which I think helped a but even after one night, our sheets even began to smell musty. I had to ask the maid to change our sheets midweek because it was starting to become unbearable. Towards the end of the week, the bathroom started to smell after we would shower which I believe is because of the woodplank flooring in the shower as well as there not being an exhaust fan. Honestly, the room was our biggest complaint and one of the reasons we probably would not return. If we did decide to go back, we would definitely upgrade into one of the private lofts. As a side note--our room was on the middle floor so I don't think it matters where you are located.

Food--Food was average at best at the buffets and on the resort. It definitely is much different than what were used to as Americans but the specialty restaurants more than made up for it. We went to the Mexican restaurant on the other side twice--HIGHLY RECOMMEND the chicken fajitas! They were absolutely amazing. We also went to the Japanese restaurant twice! Despite the sushi being quite different than what were used to, the hibachi dinner is very much like what you would get in the states and was very very good! We also ate at the Italian restaurant once and were pleasantly surprised. Get the tomato and mozzarella salad to start as that's the only time you'll find real mozzarella on the resort. So even though the buffets aren't very good, if you find a specialty restaurant you love, go more than once! You can go as many times as you would like being a member of the Royal Side. Sea Blue wasn't bad for lunches but again, food is very different than what were used to. However, my boyfriend did recommend the burger and I would recommend the calamari! As for lunches, the brick oven pizza spot by the pool on the other side saved us! The only problem is you normally have to wait for the pizza to come out and if you're not standing up there waiting, forget it! Some people from other cultures were extremely ignorant and would push in front of us regardless of the fact that we were first in line so if you're American and not used to that, this is your warning!

Overall, service was great! Carlos and Luis at the pool bar are super nice and very fun. Carlos loves to sing and dance as he works. Bartenders and workers by the piano bar and at the Thalassa Restaurant are also pleasant! We didn't try the Tapas restaurant though so I can't comment on their service. The pools and beach are great! There is a lot of seaweed on the beach but if you're not very high strung then it won't bother you. The beaches are still beautiful. Drinks are good at the pool bar but not so much on the beach. There is barely any alcohol in them and TONS of sugar. Most drinks have the ingredients listed so if sugar is one of them, I recommend saying no sugar. They typically put 3teaspoons of sugar in each mojito for example and the glasses are small! I mostly stuck with rum and cokes for most of the trip and they were delicious! The fruity drinks are definitely overrated. If you decide to venture out to the market down the beach, be prepared to be aggressively approached. Also, they start the pricing very high--don't fall for it! I usually started with a third of what they were asking for and were able to pay only a little higher than that.

We did go to the Disco twice and if you can stay up past 11pm, I would recommend it. We didn't see many of the shows because we were eating late most nights so the disco was our main form of entertainment haha. GREAT for people watching! The resort was made up with a mix of Americans, Canadians and Europeans. The closer you get to July and August, the more Americans there will be. The beach party on Thursday was fun! They had a great buffet lined up at Sea Blue and a DJ playing music until 11pm. One of our best nights there!

If you're looking for a good excursion to go on, I recommend Big Mikes Dominican Adventure. (I think you can look him up on Trip Advisor) We booked it separate from the hotel. He has a website with his e-mail but you need to book in advance. We booked ours about 4months in advance but I'm sure you can do it a few weeks before. You can find out more about the trip through Trip Advisor but we booked the half-day trip and had a GREAT time. Great way to learn about the country and it's people. Also, it was only $60/pp for the half day which is a lot cheaper than what you'll pay if you book an excursion through the hotel.

Overall, we cannot complain too much about the resort as a whole. Like I mentioned before, although the rooms present well, they really do need to be updated and something needs to be done about the smell. I understand it is a very humid country but other resorts do not have that problem as I have family members who have been to a lot of other resorts in Punta Cana and were surprised to hear about our issues. It also might be the reason why the resort seemed empty most of the week--they were definitely not at full capacity. But if you're looking for sunshine, decent food, good service, and a relaxing, peaceful trip--then you will have a wonderful time. It's hard to complain too much while on vacation!

Room Tip: Get a room facing the pool!
Stayed: June 2011, travelled as a couple
2  Thank Ashley1232
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 June 2011

Visited the Catalonia Royal Bavaro last September, we loved it! Personal attention, great staff, very clean, and definiately has "curb appeal".Food/Beverage Mgr., Luis Cedano, made us feel right at home. Our deluxe room, was great! Food and beverages made the trip so worthwhile. Clean, very relaxing, and great staff. Met some fantastic guests who made our vacation very enjoyable. Beach, pools, good food/drinks, and peace and quiet. You won't be sorry. Enjoy, and please say hello to Luis Cedano, until we meet again.
Robert and Elaine Plouffe
Pawtucket, Rhode Island

Room Tip: we had the deluxe room, great views, quiet
  • Stayed: September 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank firefighter5_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 June 2011

Let me start by saying this was my wife's first plane ride and leaving the US. Overall the grounds were very nice and 95% of the staff were great. After 2 days we were moved to the Presidential suite which was HUGE and had an amazing view of the ocean. I wasn't very impressed by the food though as I thought it would of been much better than it was. To me most the beef had a weird flavor but I noticed that at the airport it was the same so it must just be the country and not the resort. But restaurant (inside) at the back was our favorite for dinner and we loved the pizza. The outside restaurant at the back of the property we normally received poor service but the lunch was great there even the burgers tasted fine (compared to the ones at the snack bar and airport).
Our first room was in a honeymoon suite on the ground floor and it did have a musty smell like I read some people say. But the ones off the ground floor were fine so request it if it's a big deal for you.
We did a few excursions and the best was the speed boat and snuba diving. The speed boat part was pointless (lasted 10 minutes) but the snuba was amazing, and worth every penny to me.
We did make the mistake of using the tap water to brush our teeth and I strongly suggest not to as we paid for that. An they have signs telling you not to drink it so I guess I was dumb not to use bottled water for that part.
In all I thought it was great, the swim up bar is amazing and the two bartenders there were great. I forgot all their names cause they kept me drunk! I suggest taking a siesta during the day to rest up. Also tip well and they will love you as they don't get paid much so everything helps. I would take plenty of 1's and 5's as you can break anything else for the most part. Enjoy yourself and don't get as burnt as me on the first day!

Room Tip: If your on your honeymoon spread the word!
  • Stayed: June 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank booser
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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