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“Love the beach, great for snorkeling!!”

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Grand Bahia Principe El Portillo
Ranked #1 of 35 Hotels in Las Terrenas
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 30 December 2009

When we arrived we had a two hour bus ride to the hotel, the staff are great in helping you with your luggage. Its more like a tour, the scenery is amazing and the bus stops at the top of the bay of Samana for pictures. You go through little villages and you see how the locals go about there day. When you arrive the staff take you right to your room with your luggage. We were in villa 16 on the top floor. The rooms are very clean with tropical design and the bathroom all done in marble. We did have a issue with our air conditioner it blew luke warm air. We did go down to the main desk and they promptly sent the repairman, who hit the outside of the grill on with a wrench and left again. But we made do with the huge over the bed fan. There was a big language issue with the staff, who knew very little english or french but our tour guide Joel through Air Canada was helpful. FOOD: Being from Canada we thought the meals in the buffet were hard to adjust to, allot of foreign based foods except Sunday they had Americano the only day we got spoiled with bacon lol. But the beach snack bar has great pizza. fries, roast chicken, hotdogs, and cheeseburgers. My husband and I really enjoyed the food here and the scenery of the ocean. We did do three al lacartes but preferred the italiano there pasta was good, we did ask for the steak well done and it returned bloody but there was a language barrier. The service is excellent at the al la cartes and the wine and drinks plentiful. They are not strict on dress code, most men were in shorts. We didn`t really enjoy the al lacartes and the fourth one we did not take. It is a nice change of scenery but food is nothing spectacular. ENTERTAINMENT: The beach and snorkeling is amazing and for us the best entertainment, bring your own snorkeling gear because they have a one hour policy at the hotel. We did get haggled the first day by merchants on the beach. All there souvenirs can be purchased at the hotel gift shop for a lesser price. The staff do have bingo`s, exercises and activities during the day, they have a schedule by the beach bar.
The night life is entertaining but this is not the place if your looking for a wild party, its more of place to relax. The drink menu is good and they use mostly rum, my husband enjoyed the beer. TOURS: The tour to the EL Limon waterfall is worth the money, you go by horse through the lush tropical forest. You do have your own guide who is paid by your tips. Ours were great, they stopped to show us local birds and plants. The waterfall itself is amazing and we swam in the base and explored the caves. Then when you arrive back at the ranch they make you a little buffet, which was delicious and had great fresh fruit, fried rice, chicken, and beef. Then on the way back they stop and show you a local cigar shop, which had great deals and you saw first hand how cigars are made.
The second trip we took was to Playa Recon, the long bus ride is so worth it and very scenic. You go through there cities and follow the coast through small villages and local farms. You then come to this white sandy beach with the clearest blue water surrounded by mountains and palm trees. You can purchase your dinner of rice, fries, chicken and lobster. We had the chicken, rice , and fries which were all great!!
Great vacation, very relaxing, clean, and enjoyable. Hope to return before it becomes over populated with resorts.

  • Stayed: November 2009, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank Steph_Ron25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 29 December 2009

I would not fly with Sunquest again, a 4 hour flight & 11/2 hr. bus ride to the hotel turned out to be a 19 hour journy. Here's a brief:sumery :Skyservice sucks. We took off in Toronto on time, in the air for 1 hr. & returned to Toronto -- took off again from Toronto to Samana (almost landed) & up in the air again to La Romana. -- landed there sat in the airport for 3 hrs. then in the early morning hrs. on the same plane flew to Purto Plata-- Then a 41/2 hr. bus ride to GBP El Portillo. Skyservice said bad weather, other planes were landing in Samana we could not fiuger it out.
Now the most important thing, The El Portillo. I spent 5 hours reading all the reviews, allot were good and a few were bad. All i can say is the resort was beautyful. The rooms were large with a seperate seating area, belcony with chairs & table, the washroom was large too with a separte jucuzzie & shower. VERY VERY CLEAN.
The food was great. We like fine dinning once a week, and at the buffet they served fine dinning food, and guormet food.
The seafood rest. & Italian were wery good just like all the reviews mentioned.
The resort was just like the reviews mention & more.
We have traveled alot around the caribean, and we like to stay in nice upper scale 5 star resorts, and some I would rate them a 4 or 41/2. But this one is defenetly a 5 star We never went back to the same place twice, but I would return to the El Portillo. We meet 7 or 8 couples that were on their 2nd or 3rd visit.
Do not pay any attention to the bad reviews, these guys just missed the boat or they were so drunk they themselves did not know what hotel they were staying in.

  • Stayed: December 2009, travelled with family
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4  Thank Tom M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 December 2009

If you're at all like me you've gone reading through some of the reviews the Gran Bahia Principe resort-hotels and the near-by resort-hotels in Samana and they all seem so similar that it's hard to choose one. That and you've probably read some of the reviews that make you wonder whether you should be weary of travelling to these hotels or the D.R. at all. Be warned, this review is long because I plan to provide a lot of the information I was hoping to find when I came and looked at these reviews.

Where to begin...

When you first enter the hotel you'll find that it's large, airy, spacious, and generally well kept. The layout is townhouse style, which is the first thing that differs from the El Portillo's sister resort, the Cayacoa. The Cayacoa is hotel style, which means that while you're more likely to get a good view (half of the rooms will face the beach) you'll have neighbours on all sides. The townhouse style means that none of the rooms are on the beach. Instead the atmosphere you're presented with is much more private and the hotel covers a much greater area extending away from the beach. You could be in for a fair walk to get to the hotel lobby, restaurants and beach.

The rooms are pretty standard. As with any tropical climate there are a few things you should be prepared for. The high humidity and proximity to the ocean means that paint peels easily, so while it doesn't look rundown, there will be spots missing paint here or there. I see that in a lot of reviews people are complaining about bugs. TIP: Don't leave drinks, wrappers or food out when you leave your room. The tiny ants that inhabit the island move quickly. It's pretty simple - don't leave food out unless you prefer sleeping with worker ants and the gecko's that feast on them!

If you're at all familiar with all-inclusive packages you'll know that some resorts have mini-bars located in the rooms. I'm told that in Mexico the mini-bars include alcohol dispensers with a nearly endless supply of alcohol. The mini-bar at the El Portillo is minimal. Two cans of beer and 4 different kinds of pop. With two people in each room that's one beer a person. They refill it everyday but after you finish those two cans you'll be making trips to the bar.

That being said though the bars, staff, food selection, restaurants and animation team are all fantastic! One of the few problems we ran into at this hotel though was the fact that there were very, very few English speakers. The staff does the best they can with what little English they know and they always have a smile on their face as they try to tip-toe around proper pronunciation, etc. and we expected that, but to our surprise very few of the other guests spoke English. Whether it was a fluke that we happened to come when a flock of Spanish (literally from Spain) speaking guests decided to visit or whether there's always a large number of Spanish speaking guests, who knows? But it was hard to meet other travellers when you don't speak their language. We mainly came to relax, not meet people, but just be wary that because the majority of the guests speak Spanish, the native tongue of the D.R., the late night shows will be tailored to these guests. Despite this I ended up on stage twice, and the MC was more than happy to explain what kind of things we'd be doing on stage in English for me when I participated in the show the first night!

The beach is fantastic, the pool is small but adequate (and was never too crowded), the excursions were really entertaining and scenic (the Air Canada rep on site who recommended them was really awesome too, I wish I could remember his name) and we all had a really good time.

Without going into too much of a rant though I have to make one thing clear to those concerned about negative reviews. If you've never stayed at an all-inclusive you're going to have a fantastic time. It's nice to eat anything you want and to wander around freely making use of anything you'd like. A lot of people who frequent five-star all inclusive resorts are picky people who will let even the slightest inconvenience sour their entire trip. Your trip is what you make of it. Just keep in mind that the D.R. is a third world country that is still developing and while the descriptions list these hotels as 5 star (and they are when you compare them to other D.R. hotels) comparing them to 5 stars in Mexico or other Central American countries is like comparing apples to oranges.

As for the difference between the two hotels... The El Portillo is located in the town of Las Terrenas (technically 5 or 10 minutes away) which is a tiny, tiny little town only accessible by a cab ride. A unique downside to this hotel was that you pay for a cab ride upon your return to the hotel and because the cab waits for you at the drop off point to take you back you will have to arrange for a pickup time. This means that you're not free to wander until you decide to come home. You're usually given 2 hours (any more than 4 and you'd get bored anyway) and then you have to come home. In that sense if you're looking to get out into the towns and experience local life the El Portillo may not be right for you. The Cayacoa is located just outside of Samana, a much larger town, and doesn't require a cab (although it is a fair distance to walk).

Take the El Portillo if you want a resort out in the middle of nowhere. There are no close neighbouring resorts (not yet anways - they're under construction). The beach is also much larger and much nicer (we were told, and judging by the pictures I've seen I would have to agree). The Cayacoa is similar, but closer to town, and not a townhouse style resort. It'll feel more like a hotel, and according to our Air Canada rep there is quite an influx of local visitors who make use of the pools on weekends. Oddly enough though our Air Canada rep did say that he prefers the Cayacoa to the Portillo mainly because of it's proximity to town.

Our overall stay in the D.R. was fantastic. It's a third world country, and while I've experienced quite a few similar places in my travels I know for a fact that it was an eye opener and unique experience for the two people I travelled with. I know they enjoyed the trip, as did I. Don't hesitate to travel to either of these fine resorts or anywhere in the D.R. for that matter!

  • Stayed: October 2009, travelled as a couple
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11  Thank Darren M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 December 2009

We arrived on November 22nd and our registration was ready at the airport. The trip from the airport to the resort is about 1 hour 20 minutes. When we arrived at the hotel everything went smoothly. Denny was very helpfull at the reception desk, and he speaks very good English, French and German, he was excellent. We were on the 3rd floor, which was a good choice. Building 18 was very central. The cleaning lady was very sweet, her name is Rosalina, the room was very clean. You get towel service twice a day. The bar man at the pool was Augustin, he was always freindly and knew what you wanted, and was always smiling. The bar at the lobby was good too. We just ate at the Buffet which was very good. Manuel is the manager there, and he welcomes everyone, and very helpful. The waiters and waitressess were very friendly. I had asked if I could use the Gym earlier, because it opened only at 8 a.m. The hotel manager Jose came and opened the gym at 7 a.m. everyday. The animation team was always trying to give you a good time. Ana, Joanna, Tobias, Frank, Sugar, Luis. Bernard, our Air Canada tour guide, was very heplful and speaks good Englsih.Every little thing that you give them, is appreciated. Next time I will take more. We will go back again.

  • Stayed: November 2009, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank Mrrk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 December 2009

The setting of the hotel is nice, the beach is not bad. Lots of rocks, but u get to see some fish around, which is really cool. I won't go into details about all that, because it's covered by other reviews. Some things I didn't like though... At the bar some imported alcohol is included:Stoli,Jose Cuervo, couple of other things. But if you ask for it, they say "it's included, but we don't have it". Well, go and get some then?! No, we don't have it at all. Ask for olive in your martini-same thing, "we don't have it". Two minute walk to buffet and you have olives, but they are not willing to make that effort. One night ordered rum with lime-"we don't have lime". WHAT? Please get some then, I am not the only one asking for it. And trust me, our table has been tipping them often. Buffet had the best service by far, beach bars were OK, but running out of stuff all the time also.
Had to go to try to get reservations for ala carte on two occasions. First on Sun. at 3 pmI was told "oh, the lady who does it went home". Oh, OK, I'll try tomorrow. The next day she was supposed to be there between 9am and 4pm, but did't show up until about 1pm. A lot of pissed off people waiting there, but they don't care.
The a la carte restaurants were nothing special. Service is a little strange also, it takes four different people to bring you water, food, bread and wine, so there's a lot of confusion and long waits. My wife asked the waiter for a glass of wine, but instead of just bringing it, he started to look for the lady who was pouring wine for other people. Waited for it for 15 minutes; it never arrived. Didn't even stick around for dessert. My recommendation- go to buffet. Some employees really do try, others just don't seem to give a damn.
And another thing... No nightlife in the hotel. There's a club where locals and tourists go in Las Terrenas, some really good local dancers there and seems safe. So if you are looking for some enterntainment in the evening, it's a good place to go to.
Anyways, it was OK, but I wouldn't go back. There are other hotels that are way better for the same price.

  • Stayed: November 2009, travelled as a couple
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Thank HuskyRussky
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Grand Bahia Principe El Portillo

Address: Crta. las Terrenas - El Limon, km 4, Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic (Formerly El Portillo Beach Resort)
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > Samana Province > Las Terrenas
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Spa Hotel in Las Terrenas
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Las Terrenas
#1 Top resorts Hotel in Las Terrenas
#3 Family Hotel in Las Terrenas
#6 Romantic Hotel in Las Terrenas
Price Range: $180 - $477 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Grand Bahia Principe El Portillo 3.5*
Number of rooms: 606
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Facilities and services: 2 pools Jacuzzi Sun terrace with loungers and sun umbrellas Pool and beach towel service BAHIA SPA (additional charge) Sports facilities: gym, tennis court, basketball court, volleyball net on the beach Water activity and scuba diving centre WiFi access in the lobby (24h per day free of charge) and in rooms (additional charge) Entertainment theatre Main buffet restaurant and 4 a la carte restaurants 8 Bars Snack-bar Pueblo Principe: local craft stores, live music, shows, bars and disco. Rooms 582 rooms including 4 types: Standard, Club Golden Junior Suite, Junior Suite and Family Suite. Junior Suites are larger than Standard rooms. Room facilities: King size bed or 2 full size beds Fully-equipped bathroom with hydromassage bath tub, shower, hair dryer and magnifying mirror Air conditioning Ceiling fan Terrace or balcony Telephone Radio alarm clock Satellite TV Coffee-making facilities Mini-bar Safe (with additional charge) WiFi (additional charge) Ironing set (available on request) Superior Junior Suite: balcony or terrace, sitting area with sofa-bed, ironing set, coffee-making facilities, private guest service phone line, umbrella, VIP amenities. Club Golden and Club Hacienda Junior suites (See page 18 Club Golden, Club Hacienda) Children Bahia Scouts The hotel is perfect for families, offering a range of facilities tailored especially for children, including the following: Children's pool Mini Club with daytime activities Evening Mini Disco Babysitting service (additional charge) Bahia Scout Water park Other services Medical service (additional charge) Pharmacy (additional charge) Bus stop opposite the hotel Personalised diets on request and subject to circumstances Specialised service for organising weddings, incentive trips, events and anniversaries ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Gran Bahia Principe El Portillo Hotel Las Terrenas
El Portillo Beach Resort

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