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IN SUMMARY: We stayed as a young couple as well as with my parents in the renovated Bavaro Section of the resort in April 2014. Overall we found the Palladium to be a great all-round hotel which deserves 5 stars.
Our Favourite Things…
+Surroundings – the hotel grounds are beautiful as is the beach. Definitely a reason to stay in DR!
+Staff Service - all are usually very attentive. It felt like most genuinely want you to be happy!
+The Drinks – the cocktails, coffees and even house wine was good (more info below…)
+The variety –great to have a wide number of a la cartes and bars to try.
+Rooms – Villa style setting is pleasant, large rooms and well finished refurbished suites in Bavaro section.
BEACH: beautiful beach, always a pleasant breeze. No rush for reserving beds before breakfast unless you wanted an umbrella/shade. Beach bar huts dotted along the beach for drinks (only plastic cups available if you don’t have a thermos mug).
POOL: Bavaro pool was fun in the afternoons with some good poolside entertainment and games. We always went to the beach so cannot comment on bed availability at the pool – there always seemed to be towels down around the pool before 9.00am though! The swim up bar was great and the pool bar staff (Freddy, Maria, Hermes, Escarletta, and Deilon were all very helpful). Little iced coffees are served out at 4.00pm every day.
Great to see hand sanitizer being given to everybody entering the buffet (all hotels should do this, especially as kids like touching food with their hands!) Nobody in my family got ill beyond the usual 'adjustments' to foreign climate/food (salad, ice were all consumed no problem!)
- Breakfast: Good variety of hot food (fresh omelette station, crispy bacon, hot vegetables), plenty of bread/pastry/pancakes and salad. Most things were available daily/repeated which can be a bit repetitive. Many sweet options including crepe station. Not as many fresh food / quality ingredient options as you may want at a 5* restaurant but there was always fresh fruit (papaya/passion fruit/melon) and the natural breakfast juices are very tasty. Only 3 yoghurt options and no variety of nuts. The Dominican porridge is great if you like cinnamon! Staff always excellent at breakfast and will gladly bring you cappuccino/espresso if you ask. Thank you Hilda, Cesar and Fedi…(*cannot recall her name*)
-Lunch: Bavaro beach buffet Arricife: excellent service and selection of food. Ramon, in particular, took good care of us! Always a fresh meat carvery section and grilled to order options. Good luck trying to resist the (Mr Whippy) ice cream machine (Which can get messy and turn to liquid due to such heavy use!)
A la cartes - we prefer to dine a la carte instead of buffet and GP Bavaro did not disappoint! We had no bad a la carte meals or experiences. Earlier dining was quieter, therefore normally better service. Meals were plentiful, usually with a self-service salad bar available too. All a la cartes seemed to be very popular and queuing can be difficult but worth the effort if you aren't so keen on buffet dining every night!
Brazilian (rodizio) - 6/10 - food: grilled meat feast served rodizio style, ok quality - service: quite quick as waiter constantly serves at table until you are full.
Japanese (hibachi) 7/10 - food: freshly cooked in front of you (egg fried rice, fish & meat) service: good, very loud and lively (knife juggling etc.) but worth going for the experience and group dining!
Mexican 8/10 - food: good salad bar (best guacamole as you'd expect), good starter (sizzling fajitas was more like a main portion!), good mains inc. steak, sea bass etc. service: quick, nice atmosphere and seating inside/outside.
Italian 6/10 - food: good salad bar with Italian choices like pesto, focaccia but each course got slightly less tasty. Service: bit slow as restaurant full, a more romantic atmosphere.
Steakhouse 9/10 – Our favourite! - food: starters ok but highlight was the beef filet main course. Service: very good and setting great.
Spanish Tapas 8/10 - food: very well presented salad bar with interesting choices. Tapas felt quite authentic and all dishes were tasty. Service: quite quick and can order as much as you like.
DRINKS – excellent standard and variety everywhere. Even if you're not in the Bavaro section, be sure to drink at Hemmingways bar located by the Bavaro pool (separate from the pool bar). Was very pleased to find Budweiser on offer here as well as many other imports. Great bar team and live pianist. The main Bavaro lobby was always lively at night and a good place to sit for a drink (if you could get a seat!). Staff all friendly and do not expect tips (Thank you Deilon, EvaLisa, Hermes, Leandro, Sam and Carlos)
Bavaro Animation - we really enjoyed participating in the daily activities (morning is at the beach, afternoon at the pool). Great team led by Richard. Erik, Alex and the team are very friendly, hardworking and good at all languages! Encouraged guests but never pushed to join in.
Entertainment: Two theatres with shows at 9pm and 10pm each night. We saw the Dominican, Spanish, Couples and Circus shows. The Circus show had some great acrobatics on show. We didn’t make The Michael Jackson show but heard it was also good. The Sunset Theatre (in the Bavaro Section) was very large and comfortable for watching shows. Huge fans meant it didn’t get unbearably warm and waiters on hand for drinks. We very briefly went into the disco, heard the booming music and freezing temperatures before walking back out. We preferred to sit in the Bavaro lobby (live band every night – good but a little repetitive), or at Hemmingway’s Bar with the live pianist and card tables.
Spa/Gym: Large gym, open 7am – 7pm. Good selection of weights and resistance machines. A few cardio machines too. Some equipment is a bit old but still works fine! Spa looked very nice but you have to pay $10 to use the wet side facilities (steam room/sauna etc).
Guest Relations: Cannot speak highly enough of Severino, the Bavaro Guest Services Manager. It was my dad’s 60th birthday during the stay and Severino made sure that it was an excellent occasion for the whole family. If he was able to help us in any way, then he did so!
ROOM: We stayed in a ground floor renovated junior suite in the Bavaro Section. Rooms nicely decorated with all the mod-cons you need (minibar, A/C, ipod docking station, reading light). Hydro-bath was very relaxing. A/C worked very effectively. King size bed was huge and comfortable (if you like a firmer mattress). Free Mini bar is standard and restocked daily (Soft drinks,beer, agua); toiletries (shampoo/shower gel/body lotion/shower cap). Free to use safe deposit box! Cleaners were always working hard and generally happy.
GARDENS: Beautifully maintained by the gardeners. We became friends with our ‘local’ gardener, Vincent and could often rely upon him for a delicious fresh coconut to quench our thirst! Well done to the gardening teams!!
Ideas/Areas to improve:
-Buffet: less repetition for breakfast and more quality options (eg fresh vegetables, mixed nuts, instead of so many sponge cakes which are also used for the evening buffet)
-Sunbeds: standard Sunbeds are fine but as a 5* resort, it could get some more comfortable sun loungers for the beach (other hotels on the beach have mattresses/Bali beds)
-Help yourself drinks fridges: at the 5* resorts we have visited in turkey they've had outdoor fridges by pool/beach so you can grab water bottles when needed. It's no issue to go to the bars/hits but I think these fridges are great!
-GP could invest in some larger productions/shows for its theatres as we have seen more impressive shows at other 5* hotels. More like the circus show would be good!
-Bavaro bars (lobby and pool) could open a bit earlier e.g. 9.00am for those who want to stop for a coffee before/after breakfast
-Wet wipes and more serviettes needed on restaurant tables as only one serviette is provided.
-Bavaro Buffet layout is a bit awkward as plates are stacked under workbenches which mean you have to push into buffet queues to get a plate sometimes.
-Food in general – create more variety e.g. ice-cream only at ice-cream machines/a la cartes – offer other types e.g. cornetto / magnums – we have found this to be great at other 5* hotels.
-Split lobby and outdoor dining into smoking/no-smoking areas (as non-smokers we sometimes opted not to have breakfast outside).
-take a thermos/bubba mug for the beach/pool if you don't want to always drink from small plastic cups. The staff are happy to refill and wash these for you.
-fresh towels tend to run out by 5pm if you want to get them for the next day.
-a la cartes: first come first serve so either arrive by 6.00pm to get a seat, or waiting times can be up to 1.5 hours (and you will be given a pager). If you have a special occasion, it is worth visiting Guest Relations to see if they can help ‘reserve’ a space.
-Free wifi in lobby is much more reliable in the day time. It often drops-off in the evening (probably as so many people are connecting!)
-Speak basic Spanish - the staff appreciate you trying!
-Sports bar has a bean-to-cup Santa Domingo coffee machine if you cannot wait for the lobby bar to open (at 10am) – also worth a visit for a free game of pool/fussball.
-We never felt pressured to tip but it does guarantee you instantly good service and the staff remember you!
-Watersports used at Dolin Dive Centre were good (my Dad could windsurf for free as he had a certificate and we used the Kayak)
-Sections: We are so pleased to have chosen the Bavaro Section to stay in because we thought this was the nicest part of the beach, had the best beach restaurant (El Arricife) and was generally quieter with fewer children than other sections. Worth noting that the Punta Cana section is due for refurbishment Summer 2014.
Overall we had a wonderful time at the Grand Palladium, were treated fantastically by the staff and would definitely return (as long as the prices don’t rise too much!)