Travel Review: Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana


Palm trees swaying in the warm Caribbean breeze; salty, turquoise waves washing over white-sand beaches; the Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana sets the ideal stage for your family’s winter break.

Gran Bahia Principe is a chain of resorts, with locations in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico and Spain. On a recent trip to the Dominican Republic, I had the pleasure of staying at the Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana and was very impressed.

We travelled with a group of friends and family, spanning the demographic range from grandparents down to our four-year-old son. There were nine of us, altogether, occupying four rooms in different locations on the resort. All of the rooms were clean, comfortable and well appointed. Everything worked – the locks, the safe, the TV, the plumbing – everything.

The fact that everything worked should go without saying, but that is often not the case, throughout the Caribbean and poorly maintained rooms can make the difference between a ‘pass’ or a ‘fail,’ for me, when I’m assessing a hotel…They Passed!

The staff willingly accommodated our young son. They prepared the daybed, in our room, so he would have a comfortable place to sleep. The bartenders decorated his orange juice with fruit wedges and little umbrellas, so he would feel special. The wait-staff didn’t bat an eye when we took him to the fancy a la cart restaurants and provided him with a children’s menu.

The housekeeper didn’t even seem upset when we asked for fresh sheets, after he was sick in bed. Alas – into every vacation, a little puke must fall.

The staff throughout the resort seemed to genuinely love children. They were all over our son, trying to engage him in conversation, teaching him Spanish words and petting him on the head (which drove him nuts). The Gran Bahia creates a very elegant atmosphere at their resorts but, thanks to the staff, we didn’t feel the least bit awkward, or out of place with a young child.

The Punta Cana was part of a complex of four Gran Bahia resorts. The Ambar is an adults only location, but there were plenty of families staying at the others. Our little guy had no shortage of playmates on the beach.

He played with children who spoke Russian, Portuguese and another language that I never did identify. It turns out that children don’t need to speak the same tongue, as long as they understand the common language of sand and surf.

The swimming pools were beautiful, clean and well equipped for children; with small splash pools and walk-in shallow areas. Even children who are shy around water would enjoy the playful atmosphere.

Frequent shuttles between the lobby area and the beach and pool make it easy to get around, when little legs get tired.

Accessibility was good throughout the resort. Families with strollers and guests with mobility issues have few problems navigating the resort, provided they stick to a ground floor room. Rooms on the upper floors of the villas are accessed only by stairs.

The animation staff keep things lively through the day and into the evening. There are plenty of unique photo opportunities in the lobby and poolside (i.e. pictures with parrots, iguanas, show girls etc). You can take a crack at meringue lessons by the pool or fitness classes in the pool or on the beach. Once a week, the staff dress up as favourite characters like Mickey and Mini Mouse and mingle with the kids.

There are shows nightly. The Michael Jackson tribute is particularly popular. Children participate in a show, on their own stage, in the early evening. It’s a lot of fun for everybody.

The Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana is a gracious, elegant paradise with beautifully manicured gardens, impeccably maintained accommodation and impressively appointed common areas. It has a very sophisticated feel while extending limitless hospitality to children and families. I’ve visited good resorts and some I’d rather forget. This was one of the good ones – one I wouldn’t mind visiting again. – Jen R, Staff Writer.