This is a quick review of a single week (November-December) spent in all inclusive resort IFA Villas Bavaro in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
We book online through Apple Vacations (http://www.applevacations.com/). They provide smashing deals on a packages that includes both flight and stay. So, the only thing is not covered is your trip “to” and “from” your home airport.
The best prices are usually discovered, if you book from Saturday to Saturday and only one or two weeks in advance. Do not believe any promises of hot deals. You always can find the best prices, if you pick your destination and your week and sort the results by the price.
What are important factors to consider, when booking a trip?
First, all resorts are the same, so your first driver should be the price. You can save a thousand dollars per person in you go to Dominican first week in January, instead of Jamaica on a Christmas week.
Second, traveling is exhausting. Look for a direct flight option from your home city. Just think of all the pain of going back home with one or more stops.
Third, pick the snowiest time of the year. Think of the whole trip as a flight from cold and snow. You do not need tropics in warm months. Your skin and your lungs will love a little romance with warm air in the middle of the winter.
And only fourth, comes the resort itself. TripAdvisor (http://www.tripadvisor.com/) can help you only so much. Remember that all people are different and they all have different priorities. That is why here we will only list the discovered features and things without giving them positive or negative mark.
Resort is located at the beginning of a strip of all the resorts. It is about 20-40 minutes from the Punta Cana airport. It is hard to tell the exact location of the property on Google maps. However, on the road it is property next after Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort.
Resort is located inside a gated community, so you are passing not one but two gates with guards. Resort has tennis courts some distance away, but they are in such a shape (serious cracking and peeling) that we didn’t see anyone playing there.
Resort is on the ocean, although living quarter are a bit inland. A mini-bus-train is running regularly to connect all the property together. Resort is stretched inland for good 300 or 400 meters/yards. It has plenty of passages to run and roam around.
Rooms are average. Three-story buildings are closer to the ocean. One story villas are further away from the water. Room has a refrigerator with soft drinks (no alcohol). You rent a lock for room safety box for $3 per day.
2 queen-size beds with very unusual giant pillows in addition to 2 normal pillows. You can’t call these monsters anything but “sleeping bodies”. These are perfect to read in bed. However, a single bed-side lamp is affixed to the wall and provides very little light.
Average-size flat screen TV is on the wall. It has 68 channels on all major languages including Russian and Chinese. Time to time cable signal is disappearing, and this a good time to go to sleep early.
|No balcony, but entire wall is a window||Three story buildings are closer to the ocean||Last Night in the Warm Climate|
Bring you own hangers. An unfortunate design flaw in plastic fixtures forces hangers in the closet to fall on the ground upon slightest provocation. You need a duck tape, or glue, of whole new set of hangers to hang your clothes.
Hot water is a chapter in itself. Hot water is missing, when you need it. Instead you are getting this lukewarm liquid lazily flowing out of your shower-head. But if you wash-up in some odd hours (around 4PM or after 2AM), that you are OK.
Internet and Phones
Local calls from the room are $0.70 per minute (not confirmed). Call center calls are $1 a minute.
Good speed Internet is $3 for half an hour (ask for a computer with English language installed) with Firefox. I did not notice, if Skype is installed and available.
Wi-Fi is $10 for 24 hours, but we didn’t test it.
Activities and Staff
Here is an sketch of daily activities that you might find your self involved in. (we do not end our sentences with prepositions).
10:00 Stretching on the Beach and at the pool. Just going through motions. Not very beneficial. Low participation.
10:30 Spanish lesson. Could be fun. You might be surrounded by Europeans, Canadians and Russians. You can learn a the same expression in several languages and make a new friends.
11:00 Gym is free. Very strong A/C. You need sneakers to enter. Mr. Black Monster will kick you out, if you are goofing around.
15:00 Water-polo. You are given a colored water polo cap that identifies your team identity. Very intense rivalry. No kids or pets. Real passing and scoring. Boy, this one is good!
16:00 Crazy Horse (see pictures). Use a giant dice (size of a chair) to advance your wooden horse on a cobblestone pavement.
|Schedule of weekly activities||Crazy Horse at 4PM||The sea was angry that day|
Beach Volleyball goes on through out the day, but ends around 17:00 and it is dark by 18:15.
Beach Soccer goals are waiting patiently to takers, but rarely are occupied.
The very first experience after check-in was waiting endlessly to get our safety lock for the room. Line was only 3 people long, but the wait was terrible. Only one person in the entire resort is allowed to make this kind of transactions, and even with exact $21 cash in hand, you still getting 3 different receipts and the whole procedure takes 11 minutes. Our group already checked their rooms and explored the resort and came back to visit me. I still was waiting in endless line out of 2 people by this time. Just kill me, kill me now!
On the very first day we notified Frond Desk that one of the bulbs needs to be replaced. Then we talked to our beloved housekeeper. Then,one more trip to front desk. But the bulb is still not working.
Soft drinks, beer wine , tea and coffee are delivered to you table upon request. They are NOT available in a free flowing form. That is a constant problem for those of us who is used to large cup for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That system doesn’t make any sense. When a tiny cap is empty, the whole eating stops and you just wait till someone offers to refill. That is one thing, one feature that killed the whole fun of dining.
Wide selection of breads for lunch and dinner only.
No ice-cream. No ice-cream. I am about to scream.
Pasta station disappointing. Even after all the beautiful twist and turns of a chef in front of you, the taste is not there. Most likely reason – the past itself.
Breakfast 7:00 – 10:30
Few minutes wait time to enter after 09:15. Not less than 10 people line at egg station. Excellent mini-croissants. Oatmeal is too sweet. We had to save bread at dinner time to save it for breakfast. For some reason very limited bread selection at breakfast.
Lunch 12:30 – 15:00
Soups are excellent.
Dinner 18:30 – 22:00
A few minutes wait to enter between 19:15 and 20:00. Thursday eastern theme was very good.
Birds and Plants
We took pictures of regular household birds that live here for their unusual colors.
Americans are barely visible. Plenty of Canadians, French, German and Italian visitors. Unusually many well-behaved guest from Russia.
Tips are totally optional. At no point we felt pressured to tip. I brought with me $40 worth of singles. We spent one dollar on every meal and one dollar for every housekeeping visit. We never left the tip one the table or in the room. Hand to hand only. Tipping doesn’t help at all, if receiving person have no serving of waitress skills.
|Help to find the name for this one||Crane, Heron or Stork is hiding on the sewage treatment island||One more amazing way how palm trees are proliferate|
What else did I forget to write about?
thx. The villas are btteer than the older section where I stayed. It’s a long property. At one end your closer to the lobby, restaurants and casino, the other closer to the beach. It’s still only about a 5 minute walk from one end to the other and there are multiple pools and a shuttle that runs all the time.