HAPPY FIVE YEARS TO US!!
For our five year anniversary, we decided to take a little much needed getaway to Royalton Bavaro All inclusive resort and spa in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ). We had an amazing time, but there are a few things we wish we knew before we booked. Here’s the scoop….
BTW you can check out other resort reviews here : Finest Playa Mujeres, Excellence El Carmen. We have also been to Secrets Maroma and Sanctuary Cap Cana. We loved all of these resorts!
This is our third time in Punta Cana. It’s a short direct flight from Charlotte and love how easy it is to get to the resort from the airport and vice versa. We booked through BookIt.com; the deals are insane this time of year by the way! We’ve used the site in the past to book vacations and seems to have the best deals and you could book transportation and flight at the same time making it super easy. Speaking just for this trip, for example, we originally looked to book in Jamaica because we have never been and emailed a travel agent and she gave us a price for a resort/flight/transport more than twice the price shown on BookIt for the exact same vacation… Definitely shop around before clicking submit 🙂 Ok, back to the resort….
The resort is less than a year old and absolutely beautiful! When we book any vacation, they could have the best reviews but if they are dated, run-down, old, we’re probably not booking it. I feel like the look and feel of the resort makes a huge difference and both of us like the modern feel/beauty of all the resorts we visited that are all fairly new. This resort was no exception and everything was truly beautiful and well-designed. The beach also had some of the crystal clear blue water we both love and not too much seaweed.
The resort was very long with the beach in the back and then stretched all the way back past the pool, mini golf course, lazy river, kiddie pool and slides and then this circular layout that included the spa, most of the restaurants/entertainment area, coffee/ice cream shop, gym, youth lounge, and the front desk to name a few. I like how the back of the resort was all beach/pool and then stretched to the front were most of the night activities took place. I was happy that our room was towards the beach because at night the restaurant/entertainment area was super loud and definitely entertained and couldn’t imagine being one of the rooms back there when we were ready to leave and head to bed. The resort was so long that you couldn’t hear anything going on in the front by the time you got closer to the beach side.
We booked the Luxury Junior Suite Ocean View Diamond Club which included an exclusive beach section, pool and indoor lounge area with desserts, sushi, snacks, Nespresso, and drinks just for Diamond Club members. There was also a buffet breakfast restaurant opened only to Diamond Club members. It also included a butler service. Our butler walked us to our room, gave us a tour of the room, amenities, ect and then gave us his What’s App number which we were to use to call/text him if we needed anything. He also booked our restaurant reservations (an hour before the time we requested) and then we maybe ran into him by accident one time after that the entire trip. We did mention it was our anniversary at the time of booking, so he did decorate our room the day after our Anniversary which was a lovely surprise.
The Diamond club also apparently included preferred room locations which I’m not quite sure what that meant because we were on the right side of the resort and directly across us on the other side of the resort where the lounge also was, there were also Diamond Club members. I’m guessing it’s more of the front of the resort location closer to the beach, but not 100% sure. I can tell you that it is not an adults only upgrade like it was for Finest Playa Mujeres, unfortunately!
At the time of booking we were also given $300 in resort coupons but they were random, like $50 off of a spa service or money off of a bottle of wine which we didn’t use any of but the spa service for a massage which brings me to the next section… the sellers aka the people that will drive you on the verge of crazy if you let them.
ENTERTAINMENT/THE VENDORS THAT WILL DRIVE YOU LOCO!
There definitely was plenty to do on the resort, but during the day it’s so hot that the last thing you probably want to do is walk around and play mini golf or pool or ping pong, etc. I wish these stayed open later on in the night when you were ready to do stuff. During the day we just like to lay on the beach all day and be lazy haha! They did have some water activities like jet skiis, sailboats, tubing etc you could book and then people walking around basically torturing you multiple times a day to book an activity. It was sooooo annoying. Literally felt like I had to say no at least 10 times a day to local vendors, braiders, sunglasses/hat sellers, people asking to take pictures with their monkey/parrot/iguana, painters, jewelery makers, etc. SO annoying. Never in any of the all inclusive resorts we’ve been to were any vendors allowed to pass a certain line far from beach chairs/resort. They just walked the water line, waved at you from there and if you were interested you went up to them. Here, there were multiple times I had to shake off the sand that they’re flip flops swung in my direction when they walked by because they would walk in between beach chairs. God forbid you accidentally make eye contact because in 2.5 seconds they were right in your personal space. It’s unfortunate because overall the beach area was nice and the water was beautiful but having to listen to one more person ask me to buy something was about to make me lose it. Ok, I’m being a little dramatic because after a while you just learn to say no, and then no again, and then no one more time and move on with your business and they eventually leave you alone for the most part… If you know me, especially on vacation, I’m there to relax and the sky could fall but if I’m in a chair in the sun relaxing, not much could bother me, but here’s two instances where it really made me over the whole thing…
On our way to breakfast, we went through the sidewalk that took us from our building to the restaurant where painters and jewelers had their stuff set up that day. The only other option was to walk through the grass to avoid them, but this was one of the first encounters and we were headed to breakfast on the same sidewalk we always took and didn’t think anything of it… bad idea. I felt like we were walking through the middle of paparazzi or who knows what. There were at least 5 men calling after us to “look at this” “look at that” “this is one of a kind art” blah blah blah I couldn’t walk fast enough and then we almost made it to the end of the side walk when someone jumped in front of us blocking our path and pulled out a handful of beaded necklaces I had zero interest in and was like “one of a kind, from the sea” I don’t even know and grabbed my hand to put it on like a bracelet even though I told him I don’t want it and didn’t like it. I’m not one to cause a scene so I didn’t grab my hand out of his or push him aside or yell at him to leave me alone, I let him finish putting the bracelet on and he then grabbed my husband’s wrist and put it on his and then he’s like $2, $5, however much you want to give me. I’m sorry, did you not hear me say “no quereo” “no me gusta.” Anyways we gave him a couple dollars and went to breakfast. After that, you better believe we took the longer routes and walked in the grass to avoid any vendor, which of course didn’t always stop them from calling after us but we were at least far enough away that they couldn’t get all up in our personal space.
The second thing that bothered me with the staff/sellers is the first time we sat in the Diamond Club section on the beach after being in the public section the first two days, the first staff member we encountered seemed very nice asked us how we were, how our vacation was, etc we asked him if he could get us towels, he’s like yes but kept talking and we were both like wow, this is different from the other beach section, but took a minute or two before we realized he was trying to sell us a spa service. I told him I don’t want to and he kept insisting saying it’s this price, but I’ll give you 40% off! 40% off!! You can’t beat that, blah, blah, blah. He’s like ok I book you at 6:30 pm, I said I don’t want it, he said you’re booked, if you change your mind, just don’t go. What got me is that it wasn’t 40% off, we had to go to the Diamond Club desk to get those coupons I told you all about earlier and if you used those, you got the $50 off. Oh, and we eventually got our own beach towels.
Anywayssssss far as nighttime, they had different shows/concerts every night going on during dinner time which was fun to see before/after dinner even if they weren’t all that great. They also had a few games like corn hole tournaments, volleyball, or pool games and entertainment during the day too. If you’re the type of person that likes to do stuff during vacation, they weren’t lacking in this department.
Neither one of us are picky with food, especially when it’s junk food lol but this resort probably had the worst food out of any of the resorts we visited. I hate to say that and take it with a grain of salt, but almost nothing tasted fresh- it wasn’t that the food wasn’t good or there weren’t enough choice, just wasn’t fresh/you could tell they were just reheated. Even during check-in at the Diamond Lounge where we ate some of the finger food/appetizers they laid out we weren’t impressed and thought it was a one-time thing, but seemed to be the trend throughout our stay. Of course, breakfast was good because we chose omelettes and things they made on the spot or we got pizza during lunch every day because those were made to order, but that’s about it. Everything else, even the restaurants were ok, edible of course, but not like omg this is the best meal ever like at past resorts. I’ll spare you the details, but, I will say we did eat at one restaurant towards the end of the trip and it didn’t sit well with either of us, worse with me- thank God for the $18 Pepto-Bismol they had at their gift shop because I wasn’t about to spend a vacation day in the bathroom. TMI, but I’ve never been sick at any of the other resorts and never avoided certain foods like I did here because they either didn’t look or taste right. Despite avoiding a lot of options, I still got sick, so there’s that.
Oh, the kids. We are usually good about sticking to adults-only resorts, or at least ones that have specific adults only sections, but figured that the Diamond Club meant adults only since a similar upgrade at other resorts meant that. We were wrong and even more wrong for making that assumption because kids. were. everywhere. That’s ok, and there were so many activities and places set up for them and it wasn’t an adults only resort, but we vowed to choose adults only from now on. Next door to our room there were I think 2 small children. We never saw them but I heard them… at 6:30AM EVERY SINGLE MORNING. Ok, every morning but one, but still. It was annoying, but I still had homework assignments due so used that time to wake up an hour earlier than planned to finish work. The concierge asked how our stay was after the second night and told him good aside from being woken up at 6:30AM the past two mornings and don’t want to ask to move rooms, but if there were any available rooms, if it was possible we would like to move. He apologized, said he would check on it, wrote our room number down and never heard back from anyone again. We had heard from other staff members that the resort was only about 60% full so I know there were rooms available, but whatever.
Dinnertime was hit or miss. I don’t blame these kids, they’re in the water and sun all day long and by 9pm the last thing they want to do it sit still at dinnertime. There wasn’t just one instance where we sat next to a table of a toddler throwing a tantrum, but I will say it was quite amusing seeing more strollers than bar chairs at midnight at the open bars around the resort haha! Coming from a couple without kids and if we ever travel without kids in the future, we’re going to pass on the kid friendly resorts next time.
Overall, like I said, we had a great time! I know I mentioned a lot of negative things on this resort review becuase we have never encountered these issues at any other resort we visited, but we most definitly enjoyed our time. I know a lot of you have never been to all-inclusive resorts and followed along each of my IG posts/stories, so I wanted to make sure you got the scoop wihtout being distracted by all the pretty photos. It takes a lot for us not to make the most of anything, especially on vacation, so we made the most of it despite all those things we could’ve done without. We’re grateful for any time spent together, especially these days when home life is so crazy busy. But, for us, as far as this resort goes… I think this will be a first and a last. I do think if you have kids, or don’t mind all the vendors, or just stick to the pool, you will love it here! Let me know if any of you have ever been or have any resorts you highly recommend in the comments below! Till next time, XO!
PS all outfits are linked HERE.