This is a hotel review provided by 121pilot, our resident pilot on Live and Let’s Fly. 121pilot is a captain for a major commercial airline.
In November I had a layover at the Barceló Bávaro Beach Resort in Punta Cana. The Barcelo is an all-inclusive resort with a wide range of activities and amenities available including its own golf course. During this visit the adults-only side of the resort was closed as a result of the pandemic so instead we were housed on the family side. Other than that, not much has changed from layovers I’ve done in the past.
Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort Review
The hard product itself is simply beautiful with multiple restaurants in addition to the buffet, multiple pools, plus of course the beach and well-appointed rooms.
My room on this visit was a significant upgrade from what I’ve had in the past on the adults-only side. Not only did it feel newer but it also featured a very nice jacuzzi tub on the balcony looking out at the ocean.
When you enter the room on your right is a closet.
To your left is the bathroom. The toilet is in its own space.
Meanwhile the sinks and shower are in a space that is open to the bedroom. The bathroom features dual sinks and a tiled shower with refillable dispensers for bath gel, shampoo, and conditioner.
If you continue straight ahead after entering you end up in the main part of the room.
The room itself is very nicely appointed with the amenities including a stocked mini fridge with an assortment of drinks. Even better, when I returned to my room after dinner that night I found that the resort had provided a very decent bottle of Dominican Rum for me.
The balcony was also quite beautiful with a very nice view and tall rock sides to provide privacy from your neighbors.
The grounds were clean and very nice, with beautiful pools and a nice beach.
There is a spacious and fully equipped gym that is co-located with the spa. Spa treatments were on the expensive side, though not ridiculous. The spa also seems to have its own dedicated mini pool area.
There is also a kid’s pool area.
The very large buffet restaurant was nice and had a range of choices, though many of them seemed very similar and not all that appealing.
But here is where we get into the first major failing at Barcelo. The food simply isn’t good. It’s not abjectly bad or inedible, but it’s definitely not tasty. This has been the case every time I’ve laid over here and even the specialty restaurants are rather bland. This stay, my First Officer and I had dinner at the Japanese Hibachi themed restaurant. Normally these places are always something I enjoy going to but again the food just wasn’t very good.
Drinks are another area where the Barcelo falls flat. The local beer is pretty good, but the wine doesn’t even measure up to “2 buck chuck” standards and they don’t seem to do a good job with mixed drinks. For example, at one pool side bar I attempted to order an Old Fashioned which is bourbon, orange bitters, and a pinch of sugar. Initially, the bartender mixed it with Canadian Whiskey. Even once she remade the drink it was still not very good. I’m not expecting top-shelf quality here but I’ve had far better well drinks than what was being served here.
Service was also a bit of a problem area. In the restaurants and by the pools getting drinks can be a very slow process. This was true this visit and has been true on past visits as well. In general, I’ve found that if you want a drink you need to go get it yourself rather than relying on the wait staff.
There were also signs in the room they were not getting things as clean as they should. Here are closeups of a couple of problem areas in my shower.
Finally, the resort wifi was very slow and unreliable.
The story of the Barcelo is one of missed opportunity, sadly. The hard product is all there. A great location with beautiful facilities and all the amenities one could want in a beach resort. Dominican food can be excellent but sadly that’s not the case here and other elements of their soft product let them down as well. The failures on the soft product side are such that I can’t recommend this resort and wouldn’t choose it for my own vacation.
I have stayed at several higher end all inclusive resorts in the DR and Mexico on family vacations and extremely slow service seems to be the norm. It seems like part of their business model to keep people from eating or drinking too much of the profits.
I’ve found that not to be the case in Mexico. Of all the places to go in the Caribbean I find that the service culture at most Mexican resorts is significantly better than what I’ve had elsewhere.
Baravo beach is beautiful! I recommend the Iberostar Grand! Magical and restful vacation! Staff was amazing
Thanks for the honest review. Lovely hotel so it’s a shame about the food. For what it’s worth, traditionally an Old Fashioned actually is made with Canadian whiskey. Americans have just adulterated it over time to the point where we expect bourbon instead.
Our room looked just like the pictures. It was very clean. Mini bar stocked everyday. Tub on deck nice touch. Our service was very good. Alot of beautiful food,but lacked flavor.
Drinks tasted a little off. Our free golf ended up costing us $75 us for the cart. Nice course.
Dinners at night great service. Still lacking in flavor. We were with another couple which made the trip fun.