I found this on the weddingbells website and thought it might help some of you brides out! There is a link for pictures too!
My husband and I went to the Gran Bahia Principe Bavaro Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic from April 14-28. Please keep in mind the type of person I am when reading this review. I am very anal about things that are as important as my wedding and I am a perfectionist in every sense of the word. I do have quite a bit of experience travelling to various parts of the Caribbean and Mexico and have been lucky enough to have stayed at higher end resorts. Also keep in mind that this is just my opinion based on what me and my husband experienced and saw.
I will start from the beginning.
We left on the afternoon of April 14. We flew out of Pearson International through Sky Service. We booked through Sunquest and stayed in the Diamond Club section of the resort. The airport was a pain in the butt and busy as it always is on Saturday afternoon. None of our luggage got lost and none of our people...thank goodness. The flight was fine. We had the option of watching Pursuit of Happyness and had some gross Burito thing as the meal. Nothing to really complain about.
When we arrived in Punta Cana, it was about 9 pm...I think and it was a little bit more chaotic then I would have liked, but what are you going to do. Everyone managed to get their luggage and get to the bus alright. The bus situation was not what I was expecting. With 40 plus people travelling with us, I was expecting for our group to be on the same bus together but that wasn't the case. I am not going to dwell on that too much because it didn't factor into the success of the trip. I will just say that it was inconvenient and not exactly what I expected it to be.
I was very happy to get our package and checked in on the bus...it made things a lot easier and smoother. We got to the resort and our bags were immediately brought to our rooms. When we arrived to our room we found towel designs and flowers scattered on the king sized bed and in the bathroom. We also had a fruit platter on a table set up and chilling sparkling wine, a welcome letter, two t-shirts and two hats from the resort and a bottle of rum. Very pleasant welcome.
The resort itself is huge...gigantic...massive. I have been to their sister resort in the Mayan and while it is probably just as big...if not bigger, it didn't feel as big as this place. I didn't think the layout was the best, but again, not a big deal. The resort grounds are beautiful and very well maintained. The maintenance staff are always working very hard to keep it looking fantastic.
The first week we were there, our maid was amazing but as we entered our second week something changed. We weren't getting the chocolates on our pillows as we had every night the first week and more importantly, our beach towels which are included in our room were not being restocked daily as they had been the week before. I didn't make a fuss while down there as I didn't see the point, but it wasn't something I was too happy about especially considering we were tipping her every other day with money and on some days we left little gifts for her. On some nights was also had the problem of the room being very warm despite the air conditioning being on full blast. It was weird because it only happened on some nights.
Pools and Beaches
We didn't bother going to the main pool by the beach because we had our own private one with a swim up bar closer to our rooms. It was a nice place to hang out and relax and sometimes be more active. The drinks served there were very good and the bartenders, especially Carlos, were awesome. Try the Chocolate Monkey and Mamajuana But be very careful with the second). And it was never too hard to find enough chairs for everyone and without having to get up too early to reserve them.
The first week, me and my husband and our posse (about 12-16 young adults...our friends) spent a few days on the beach and it was great. But very busy. It is sometimes very hard to find chairs, esepcially in the shade. If that is really important to you, you will have to get up at at least 8 or 8:30 to reserve a lounger.
We didn't try the Japanese, Seafood, Mexican, French or Brazilian BBQ so I cannot comment on those restaurants.
The main buffet was pretty good. There was a different theme each night which made things more interesting. Breakfast and lunch were the same everyday and it was pretty good. We spent a lot of time in the buffet as we didn't do too many a la carte dinners. The a la carte dinners that we had were the BBQ (right by the beach) which was pretty good. It is buffet style, so you may not want to waste one of your a la carte choices on it, but the food was very good. We tried the Italian restaurant which is also open for breakfast and lunch. I was not too impressed with the food or the service at any meal time. I love Italian food and so does my husband but we both weren't too satisfied with it and plus after one day of eating lunch and dinner there, we both weren't feeling to well from it. We also tried the Mediterranian and we both enjoyed it quite a bit. From my experience, it was the fanciest restaurant there. We went to the Garden Grill twice. One time it was for the wedding dinner which I will get into more detail later. In my opinion, the best restaurant at the resort with the best service.
The snack bars were pretty good excluding the burger place that is open late night in the marketplace/square. You can only get beer or pop to drink and the food isn't good at all.
The lobby bar on the Bavaro side is great. We usually hung out there in the evenings until it closed down. From there we would go to the market place and drink some more and watch the shows and when that closed down we would go hang out at the Karaoke Bar in the corner of the market or to the Disco. No complaints about the bars...they were all excellent.
On to the main event...the wedding. Originally we were going to have the ceremony on the beach but after seeing exactly where it was the first night and knowing it would be taking place at noon, we immediately decided against having it on the beach. We thought it would be too busy and not private at all. So we decided to then go with the gazebo.
We met with Mariana on Monday evening and picked the flowers, cake, music for the trio to play, dinner menu and was told we were getting Jorge as the photographer. We also decided that instead of doing our own vows, we were going to do the traditional civil ceremony. I made the mistake of inviting the entire wedding party (10 people including my parents) to the meeting so they could hear exactly how the day would go. I do not recommend anyone do this because it was insane...everyone was putting in their two cents (as is to be expected with any wedding) and made things very difficult and frusterating.
We made 3 hair appointments. One for me and one for two out of three of my bridesmaids. They were made for 9:30 am and I was told they were all at the same time which we found out wasn't the case when we showed up and we would go in one after another. Although the stylist was fast and did exactly what each of us wanted for our hair, we didn't end up getting back to the room to get ready until 11:30 am and the ceremony was to start at noon. It ended up being okay because the judge was late.
I did my own makeup using the MAC cosmetics I mentioned in a previous post and it worked out wonderfully. The make up stayed in place and did not feel heavy at all. Everyone was complimenting me onit and thought the spa had done it for me. I was pretty impressed with myself.
There was some confusion at the spa as to the ceremony location. It was supposed to be at the gazebo but because it looked like it was going to rain, Mariana called me at the spa and asked if we could move it to the Punta Cana lobby which I was fine with. After a little while, it cleared up and Mariana called again to see if we wanted to move it back to the gazebo and I said yes. I later found out that she had called my parents after the first change so that my mom could start notifying the guests but had not called after the second change. So I was thinking that it was going to be in the gazebo when everyone else was already showing up at the lobby. It ended up being in the lobby and I wouldn't have changed for anything. It was so private and was out of the sun which made everyone so comfortable.
The ceremony itself was short and sweet. It was followed by some photographs, cake cutting (the cake was excellent) and sparkling wine. We had the trio play and they were fantastic. We then went to the garden type area for some photos and then to the beach with the wedding party for some photos.
Jorge was wonderful. He was very quick and to the point which is understandable for how busy he is. The thing I was most concerned about were the photos and they were perfect. I will get into more detail later.
After the photos, Adam and I went back to the room to change into our swimsuits and to exchange wedding presents. He got me diamond earrings and he loved the boudoir photos. We then spent the rest of the day at the pool.
We went back to the room to get ready for our reception at about 5 pm and then headed to the Garden Grill. It was set up beautifully except for the centrepieces I had brough down weren't set up yet, so my wedding party did that for us. There was also some confusion about the speakers and iPod hook up, but it all get settled.
Dinner was fabulous. We had the Ceasar Salad, Beef Stew, BBQ Chicken and Tenderloin and Sundaes for dessert. After dinner, we did speeches. I decided to just wing my speech as I was having a hard time figuring what to say...if you can avoid "winging it", then I recommend it. I found that I was an emotional wreck the entire day of the wedding and that made things very difficult when I had to think of something to say to the people that I care about.
Then we did the traditional dancing and we had some time for other dancing, but it was over before I knew it. After the reception was over, we all went and got changed and headed to the disco where the party continued into the wee hours.
Although there was some confusion the day of the wedding and things did not go exactly as planned, it ended up being perfect in every way. My biggest piece of advice to all you destination brides is to go in not expecting a lot. Don't expect things to be perfect because it is not going to be exactly how you pictured it.
The photos are perfect. We ended up getting 25 printed and all of them on CD (232 of them) for $450. Worth every penny. Now the reward for you reading this very long review is, I have created a link to the photos to save space.
Amo1983/Professional Wedding Photos - Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
My husband and I stayed an additional week and thankful that we did. Although the first week was amazing, it was like spring break...I won't get into the gory details, so we needed some down time for just us. I recommend that you do this if you can.
If you have any questions or anything is unclear, feel free to PM me.
Thanks for reading.
Gran Bahia Principe review
2 replies to this topic
Posted 27 May 2007 - 06:46 PM
Thanks for sharing. I was just looking into this resort. Do they allow outside photographers?
Posted 27 May 2007 - 07:50 PM
Wow you are anal about certain things. Thanks for sharing? I will ask you if you have stayed somewhere before I go to get your opinion.
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