Grand Bahia Principe Cayacoa
Travel Blogs from Samaná Peninsula
... buggered off and there's no one around. Tonight we are going back to Don Pablo gourmet restaurant as it's our last night. We've got to pack as well because we have to have checked out by 9.30 - our boat for the mainland leaves at 10. It's going to be a very long today tomorrow. We're due back in Manchester on Tuesday morning at 6. I'll add some more photos now. See you soon - we hope the weather gets a bit better in the UK ready for our return. It looks awful! Love Julie and Simon ...
... they lived there before the Spanish chucked them out). We also saw lots of stalagmites and stalactites and bats flying around. It started raining while we were in there, which apparently it does most days (at least 250 rainy days a year) so it was a bit choppy on the way back. Fortunately the crew had given us so much rum to drink, I couldn't tell if I felt seasick! We bought a DVD of the photos from the day as a souvenir and now we're lying by the pool feeling very sleepy. ...
... in the afternoon, dinner and a couple nights of drinking/dancing at night. The perfect vacation to me. It was such a welcome break after a year of work in chilly San Francisco.
After seven nights in Las Galeras - which I highly recommend and would absolutely return to (but next time I would fly in to El Catey airport) - it was finally time to move on. I had an old friend to see in Cabarete, the kite surfing capital of Dominican Republic.
... I have no doubt that raw sewage goes straight into the bay. The only time in recent years I have seen such dirty water was in St. Petersburg, Russia. That’s a city of 6 million people. This immediate area has about 200,000.
We boarded an old but serviceable bus, which is typical of this region. Our tour guide was a very nice local man named Luis. Typical of local guides he gave us the chamber of commerce view of the local area. He assured us there ...
... aldea" to meet with some kids and give them some school supplies and medicine. When we got there it was a little awkward,
c'mon who wouldn't right?
So a group of girls that spoke Spanish (including myself) we started gathering all the kids together and start singing some traditional Spanish songs, that was fun for sure. I was able to think of my childhood and how lucky i was when i was there age, most of them weren't wearing shoes ...
How has this resort rated in the past?
- Continental Breakfast
- Free High-Speed Internet
- Swimming pool
Historical Traveler Reviews Grand Bahia Principe Cayacoa Samaná Peninsula
El hotel no cumple la condicion de resort, es pequeño, esta sin acabar, y tiene muchos defectos.
Nada mas llegar vamos a la habitacion, y a la cama le faltaba una pata. Llamamos y la arreglaron al momento.
En otra habitacion no tenias mando de la tele, lo reclamamos, y al tercer dia nos le pusieron, pero este no funcionaba. Por cierto el hidromasaje estaba averiado, le faltaban piezas.
En la tercera habiatcion la nevera no funcionaba.
Por lo demas, la comida aceptable, pero sin ningun tipo de lujo.
La musica de las discoteca malísima y esta se repitio durante las 7 noches(orientada principalmente al turista extranjero y de edad madura).
Lo mejor la situacion geografica del hotel, las vistas, la zona sin explotar q hay en Samaná q lo hace diferente y atractivo.
Y la atencion recibida por parte de los empleados del hotel, muy correcta, siempre con una sonrisa, lo mejor el equipo de animacion (son muy profesionales).
N'hésitez pas à visiter.....
Nous avons séjourné au Gran Bahia Principe Cayacoa dans la semaine du 10 février 2007. Nous avions quelques craintes concernant la plage... Mais ne vous inquiétez pas, le sable est brun c'est vrai, mais il y est tellement agréable de s'y baigner.... L'hôtel est magnifique et la bouffe excellente. Nous avons visité les merveilleuses plages l'ile de Cayo Lavantado et la page de Last Terranas. Il est très agréable de pouvoir aller en ville à pied ou avec la navette de l'hôtel et que dire de la température... du soleil et encore du soleil. Le personnel est super gentil, ils ont toujours un beau sourire. Concernant les spectacles en soirée, il devrait profiter d'avantage de la belle terrasse. Nous avons eu droit à quelques soirées avec des musiciens, mais ils devraient miser plus sur la terrasse et laisser la discothèque en disco pour ceux que ça intéresse. Une semaine c'est pas assez......
El Paraiso existe: "Samaná"
Estancia del 06/02/07 al 14/02/07.
Estas han sido sin duda las mejores vacaciones de nuestras vidas.
El hotel Gran Bahía Principe Cayacoa situado en Santa Barbara(capital de Samaná) es simplemente maravilloso, está rodeado de vegetación por todos lados, teniendo unas vistas espaectaculares. La vista que teníamos desde nuestra habitación era la del ascensor que baja a la playa con el mar al fondo. La mejor imagen que tenemos de allí y que se nos ha quedado en la memoria para siempre es la del primer día que estuvimos allí fué levantarnos por la mañana a las 7 y asomarnos a la terraza y ver en el fondo todo el cielo nublado y entre las nubes pasaban algunos rayos de sol que estaban sobre la famosa isla Cayo Levantado (también llamada Isla Bacardí).
El hotel dispone de un buffet bastante bueno, y de 3 restaurantes a la carta: italiano (el que menos nos gustó), de pescados y mariscos y gourmet, en estos dos últimos te puedes pedir langosta.
Lo mejor del hotel es la gran cantidad de personas que allí trabajan para que a nosotros no nos falte de nada, tienen una gracia, una dulzura y un yo que se, que hace que sean superamables y simpáticos.
Otro factor muy positivo es que el pueblo de Santa Barbara (Capital de Samaná) está a tan solo 3 minutos del hotel, teniendo además transporte gratuito hasta la rotonda central del pueblo.Se puede andar y visitar el pueblo sin que tengas problemas con su gente, nosotros hemos estado por allí varios días y hemos visto su mercado, tiendas, casas de cambio, etc.
Las excursiones que recomendamos son 2:
-Playa Rincón (dicen que es la 4ª playa mas bella del mundo).
-Cayo levantado con visita a observar las ballenas jorobadas, que vienen a estas aguas entre los meses de Enero y Marzo a aparearse y reproducirse para después volver al Atlántico Norte.
La isla de Cayo Levantado también cuenta con un hotel el Gran Bahía Principe Cayo Levantado(Lujo). En esta isla hay una playa que es la que se ve en la mayoría de las fotos que salen publicadas de esta isla que es la que aparece en una curva, pues esta playa es de una belleza incomparable, tiene una arena tan blanca que casi deslumbra la vista y unas aguas tan cristalinas que puedes ver las estrellas de mar del fondo.
En fin que han sido unas vacaciones en lo más parecido al Paraíso-
My husband and I stayed at the Cayacoa from Jan. 30 to Feb. 6, 2007 and thoroughly enjoyed our holiday.
The hotel has a wonderful site and is beautifully designed. We had a junior suite with a partial ocean view and the room was lovely--very high ceilings and the air conditioning, fan, plumbing etc. all worked. It was very clean and comfortable.
We ate once at each of the A La Carte restaurants and found the food to be quite good, though the service was a bit spotty. Once we each ordered a different appetizer but both got the same one and, unless you ordered a bottle of wine and were able to pour your own, it seemed difficult to get wine glasses refilled. Not that you wanted much of the house wine as it is really quite bad, particularly the red. This is the one area where there is definite room for improvement.
The service generally was very friendly and helpful. We didn't have any problems during our stay and things certainly seemed to be well run. We had been a bit concerned about the readiness of the resort because of earlier reviews. However, everything seemed to be quite finished and there was an abundance of staff doing maintenance on the grounds each day.
The Samana area provided lots of opportunities for outings, including whale watching, which was the main reason we selected it.
Très belle place je recommande
Nous sommes allez a Cayacoa de Samana du 25 janvier au
8 février. Très belle hotel superbe vue, des palmiers partouts,vue sur la mer presque partout.L'hotel es encore en roddage,mais rien pour foutre des vacances en l'air,les gens son sympatique,la bouffe es bonne.Il y a 3 restauant a la carte italiens,gourmets et poissons,1 buffet et un snack bar.
Nous on a tres bien mangé, le vin rouge es pas fameux mais on a trouvé un vin blanc tres bien il s'appelle ANDIMAR sinon ceux qui aime un vin sucré y a le fontaina.
Les lits sont très confortable petit bar dans la chambre et pour l'air climatisé etais juste bien mais oublier pas de bien fermé votre porte pation sinon l'air conditionné marcheras pas,il y a un systeme d'économie d'énergie,y en a a qui sa leur a pris 2 jours avant de comprendre hahaha.
Les piscines sont superbe ,en tout on a accès a 4 piscine sdont une juste des tourbillions au snack bar.
Pour ce qui es de la plage de l'hotel le sable es brun l,eau es moins claire,mais avec signature on avait une navette qui nous emmenais a Cayo Laventado a tous les jours si on voulais et la wow superbe plage sable blanc ,eau turquoise, boutique etc...et un tour de bateau gratuitement juste avec signature car les autres devais payé 12$ US par personne pour y allé.
Je recommande cette place ses tellement beau.
Pour ce qui es de l'animation disons que ses a retravaillé,les show le soir etais pas tres bon mais apres une journée de soleil disons qu'on etais assez fatiguer qu'on se couchais pas trop tard (23 H ).Le soir apres le souper presue tout le monde allais a la terrasse en passant la terrasse es tres belle tout es neuf alors a vous de constaté.
Pour ceux qui aime se promener dans la ville et bien vous etes a 3 minutes en navette du village,allé voir le mercado sa en vaut la peine.
Pour notre pars ses sur que je vais y retourné car il reste encore plein de chose avoir la bas.Comme le village de Bahia Principe il sont entrain de le construire, plus tard la discotheque va etre la tout comme le casino ,des boutiques et de l'animation.
En passant on a eu 14 jours de soleil s'ètais fabuleux.
Allez -y faite votre impression vous meme. :)
Il y auras toujours des chialeux qui critique toujours toutes, moi je vous le dit ses ben CORRECT.Superbe meme.
Bon voyage !!!!!!
I will first talk about a place I enjoyed tremendously. Samana is a paradise to me. Untouched and not yet fully exposed to the aggressive tourism industry. Samana people are proud people who have what they need to live. They live on a day by day basis. Money is not an objective in their lives and they will spend it all in one day and start over tomorrow. This is what I loved about them. They will not push you to buy something or do something. They will respect your decision. Remember, they are a proud and kind people who are welcoming you to their paradise.
GBP Cayacoa is one of three Spanish owned GBP hotels that have a view on the waters. From Cayacoa you can see the island hotel GBP Cayo Levantado and GBP Samana. I can't comment about GBP Samana, but I can tell you that GBP Cayo Leventado is the one with the best beach. White sand, clear waters. GBP Cayacoa has the view, since it is high up. You actually need an elevator ride to go down to it's beach (you see it in one of the photos). It has a view to the ocean, and to the left, the bay of Samana town (the docks).
Now regarding the beach at Cayocoa, it is not the best beach out there, but it is a beach. Clean waters, light brown sand, (new) comfortable lawn chairs. One thing I loved about this beach is the amount of seashells, there are so many. I have seen workers shoveling them into wheel barrels and dumping them away. There is a volleyball net setup, and you can kayak and use a sail boat for free. I believe there are other things for free but I never asked, just too many things to do in one week. We talked with a wonderful person, Nelson (who actually looks like Nelson Mandela), who talked about scuba & snorkeling excursions. I heard people that went on snorkeling excursions and had tons of fun. So much fish, so many.
There is a bar down at the beach, nothing great but you have all the drinks you need. You can even tell the bar guy to mix it up the way you want. I have seen people show up with their huge stainless steel coffee mugs and fill it up with beer. They will do it with a smile. This is what's nice about Samana, they will do everything with a sincere smile.
Now, if you are the type that wants the white beach, fear not, that is where Cayo Levantado comes in. We booked through Signature, so everyday for free there is a boat shuttle that takes you to island at 9:30am and brings you back at 2:00pm. Now, Cayo Levantado is a beautiful island, but it is small and there is nothing to do there (other than the beach and a small tourist bazaar). You have to pay for the drinks and food, so make sure you stock up on drinks and food if you don't wish to pay. The beach is not big, but big enough, and it has white sands and clear waters. But its beauty is in the view you have of the Samana bay, GBP Samana and the Samana landscape that surrounds you. Breathtaking.
There are two swimming pools in GBP Cayacoa. The larger of the two is located up with the hotel. Always clean, with a nice layout and a convenient Bar in the pool. The wooden lawn chairs are very good and comfortable (professional type) and there is enough for everyone. Music playing all day, and smiles from the personnel. They try hard to make you happy. The guy in charge of the towels (Eddy) would always ask me to play ping pong with him. He would play and run back and forth when someone needed a towel, or a game (monopoly, cards, checkers). Everyone loved him because of his smile.
One thing that I didn't like is people that come and throw their towels on the chair in the morning and disappear. So for those that complain about not enough chairs, it's not the hotel's fault. It is the type of clients that visit the hotel.
As for the smaller pool, it is located at the hotel's dock below. This is the dock where the shuttle takes you to Cayo Levantado. There is a bar and 2 restaurants down there. The pool is very basic and is composed of three innner jacuzzi style pools. I personally prefer the upper pool.
There are a couple of restaurants nicely placed in the landscape of the hotel area. Food is a personal thing and this is what I have to say... The buffet restaurant is my favorite of all the restaurants. They had everything I needed, and the food was clean and served with the correct temperatures. By day 3, you will adapt to what is offered and you will go after what you want and enjoy it. As for the other restaurants I was not too fond of, they are trying to hard and they are new to the business. This hotel is new (renovated) and is only a few months old so everyone is learning. It is un-Samana like in my opinion, and the Samana people are trying hard to have the finesse we expect from fancy restaurants. So give them a break, and enjoy their hospitality. They are open to feedback and they do want to improve in order to make you happier, so don't be shy, and speak out with a smile. For all of those that complain about the food, if you have come to vacation for food, this is not the place. When you step out of the hotel and walk 1km to downtown Samana and see what food is offered in that region, you will run back and appreciate everything. So one has to be realistic when you pay the prices you are paying.
And now the hotel rooms in the main hotel. Clean and very functional. Our bathroom was all marble with halogen lights, and nice shower system, and jacuzzi jets in the tub. Hair dryer, magnifying mirror, everything. The closets are big, and you have a safe with a digital keypad. The TV channels are plenty, CNN, HBO, TNT, Spike, MTV Spanish, Antenne 2 (France), etc... too many. I wasn't here for TV when Paradise is out there, so the max I spent watching tv was half an hour. The bed was very comfortable and the paintings, lights, curtains all wonderful. Air condition was perfect, and if you don't like AC you have a hanging fan from the ceiling that is super quiet. As for the view, we had an ocean view. It makes all the difference! To wake up on a Samana sunrise is just too much. We were fortunate to also be able to see the sunset from our balcony since we had a corner balcony. The balcony is spacious, and the wall is made of glass, so you can enjoy more of the view. Sitting there drinking Brahma beer from the room mini bar fridge (free by the way) with that view is worth a million bucks.
In the late afternoon we used to sit in the hotel's courtyard. It overseas the Samana town bay, and it is shaded by the hotel structure from the burning sun. Coffee and cookies are served on a big round table. Their coffee is strong and good. There is a wonderful breeze and one sits and relaxes before dinner or after a long day in the sun. At night you are served drinks and you have bands singing there and people get up and dance or just sit back and enjoy the music and the Samana night sky, filled with thousands of stars!
There is so much to write about, the whale watching, the waterfalls, the almost virgin white beaches that one can go to (either alone or through excursions) but I will let you read about or better... experience it yourself. As for the hotel, I give it 5 stars... but then again what does 5 stars mean? Diddly.... this is a tourism gauge. GBP chains in Samana are doing an incredible job to make it happen for tourists, and from what I keep hearing the prices will definitely go up in a year. We tremendously enjoyed our stay in Samana. We enjoyed the service our agents and the hotel employees have provided for us. Furthermore the proud Samana people have welcomed us into their Paradise... Samana Paradise!
Note: additional to the pix attached, please look that those from: puravidasouth, Ontario posted on Jan 1, 2007. They show the beach on GBP Cayo Levantado, however the water was much clearer (weather) when I was there. You can also see GBP Samana across the water in that picture. He also has a picture of the smaller of the 2 pools.
HOTEL: The hotel was very clean, and so were the rooms. The only glitch that I found was that to make the toilet flush properly, you had to keep the flush button pressed for about 2-3 extra seconds. Also, when everybody takes their shower at 11 A.M., there tends to be a shortage of hot water. But other than that, everything was perfect. We had chosen a "partial ocean view" room, and what that means is that you get a view on the inner court of the hotel, and beyond that inner court, you see a small bay where Samana village is located. It is very pretty, but you don't get to see much water if you're on the second floor or below.
The service at the hotel still has room for improvement. If you don't speak Spanish, you may have quite a few problems getting yourself understood. There are very few people who speak English, and even then, their vocabulary is extremely limited. However, there is one girl working at Guest Service who is American, so you can always find an interpreter if you need to. Finally, I should mention that although they may not understand you fully, the staff are always extremely willing to help, which is nice to see.
** After reading the last two reviews, I have to add that I never found the staff to be rude (to the contrary), and our room had none of the problems that the others mentioned. Our TV and air conditioning worked fine. We didn't have bathrobes either, but to us, that wasn't a requirement.
POOL & BEACH: The pool is beautiful, and looks very inviting. We never actually went because we were too busy with other activities, but we haven't heard of any complaints about the pool. The beach, however, is quite a disappointment for those who like snorkeling, pure blue-green waters, and walking along the beach for hours. The beach is only about 200m long, and the water is not clear at all. It could simply be the season, however, as our visit was in the middle of their winter. But there are many activities that can be done on the beach, and I'm sure it can be enjoyable. The only problem is that everything closes around 4 P.M., which, to me, is quite early. On the plus side, the whole beach is reserved to hotel guests, and is accessible by panoramic elevator from the hotel.
Despite the drawbacks of the hotel's beach, a blue-green, clear beach is not very far away at all. You can take a shuttle from the hotel to the nearby Bacardi Island (Cayo Levantado), which has a very typical tropical look. The shuttle usually leaves around 10 A.M. and comes back to the hotel at around 2 P.M., in time for lunch. There are no other shuttles from the hotel to the island. I should also mention that although the hotel beach and its surroundings are extremely quiet in terms of tourist-seeking sellers, such is not the case at Bacardi Island. Sellers approach you as you're lying on the beach and try to convince you that what they're selling is worth 20 USD...
** Again, because of the last two reviews, I have to add that it's true that there aren't many free spots at the pool and the beach, and that this can be a problem. However, I do not agree that the boat ride to the island is "dangerous". Sure, they make a few sharp turns and go a bit fast, and if you're unable to relax, I can understand that it would be a problem. That wasn't our case.
WEATHER: If you go in the winter, as we did, you can expect very reasonable temperatures that hover around 29 degrees Celsius, and a relative humidity of approximately 95%. This means that clothes, once they are wet, pretty much stay a little damp no matter what you do. If you require having dry clothes, bring them in your luggage. I have to say, though, that the humidity does wonders to the skin!
Also, I should mention that winter in the Dominican Republic means constant occasional showers. Every day, it's sunny for 2-3 hours, then there's a shower for 10-15 min, then it becomes sunny again, and so on. The showers are quite refreshing, but if you don't like getting wet, you have to expect to be packing up and leaving your beach chair for cover about 2-3 times every day.
FOOD: I found the food at the hotel to be excellent. I was very surprised by the high quality of their cheeses, and was addicted to them by the end of the week. I liked the part of the buffet where you can pick your own meat for the cook to grill in front of you. The pizzas and the seafood were also excellent. The restaurant is located in the most beautiful spot at the hotel, and you have a wonderful view of the ocean as you're enjoying your food.
The hotel also allows for one night at each of the three restaurants "à la carte". There's an Italian restaurant, a Seafood restaurant, and a Gourmet restaurant. We found the Italian restaurant to be particularly good. I only have one suggestion when you make your reservations for the restaurants: make all the reservations on the first day of your arrival, and make sure to pick a dinner time before 9:00 P.M. If you wish to have your dinner at 9 or later, the staff will not be as attentive and will be very eager to send you on your way so they can close up...
** I have to add that we didn't eat at the snack bar, so I don't know about the food there. But the food at the buffet was fine. We ate the "raw" chicken (see reviews below), the calamari, and all the other kinds of meat, and we were fine.
ACTIVITIES: Your tour operator will probably offer you many tours that seem to be quite interesting. You should know that the same tours are organized by locals at about half price. While the tours offered by the tour operators range from 50 - 110 USD per person, those offered by the locals range from 25 - 60 USD per person. We took a tour with R-Azor tours, a family tour company, and we had a wonderful time!
We also wanted to have a little adventure, so we decided to rent a motorcycle. (By the way, the motorcycle is the main means of transportation for locals in Samana.) We found that it was the best way to get a feel for the place and the people. It was simply an extraordinary experience. People will tell you that it's dangerous and that there are many potholes, but the potholes, few and far between, are quite manageable if you pay attention, and it's really not that dangerous if only because there is very little traffic. If you take the road from Samana to Las Galeras, you will be amazed to find so many beautiful natural beaches along the way. If you stop there, you'll pretty much be the only one enjoying about 5km of beach! Also, if you have any problems with your motorcycle along the way (we did!), the locals are more than willing to help. They're all semi-experts in motorcycles because they all have one, and they really enjoy understanding how they work. Of course, if you don't speak Spanish, it may take longer to explain what's wrong, but you can just show them, and they'll understand.
- Las Galeras and Playa El Rincon: The beach at Las Galeras is beautiful, but there isn't all that much to see in the town itself. As I said, it is the road between Samana and Las Galeras that really offers you beautiful beaches along the way. El Rincon beach, however, is breathtaking, and definitely worth a visit. You should also know that by every large beach, there's a little shack where food is prepared and sold. Don't be afraid to eat there. Their seafood is excellent, and grilled to perfection. You'll never pay so little (about 5 USD) for such a perfectly grilled fish or squid, or whatever you like...
- Parque de los Haitises: This is the place we went to with the tour. I absolutely wanted to see this natural reserve, and I have to say that although the cave we visited was extraordinary, the trip was very short and in the end, we didn't get to see that many birds... The park is always visited by boat. We saw one "bird island", went into one cave, and saw one mangrove, and that's it... So for nature-lovers, it's a bit disappointing. It's a good thing that our guide was good and entertaining!
- Cascadas El Limon: Beautiful waterfalls in the middle of the peninsula. The best part about the waterfalls is that they can only be accessed by a 45min-long horseride. Don't worry, I don't know how to ride horses, and I was fine. A local accompanies you all the way. We rented the horses and the guides at the Parada La Familia, and we had a WONDERFUL time! The family is very nice and welcoming, served us coffee and chocolate (do taste the coffee - it's amazing!), and the guides were excellent compared to the ones we saw on the way. Tip them generously - it's the only money they make.
- Las Terrenas: Beautiful beaches, very good food. If you like beaches, the North-West side of the peninsula (the opposite of where we were) is definitely a better bet. The beaches are white, much clearer and much longer. A great place to relax!
Not Ready and Never 5 Star
To quickly summarize:
The Cayacoa should not have been opened as early as it was. Many of the problems we experienced were due to it being a new hotel. However, I do believe that there is no way this will EVER be a 5-star resort. It will manage a 4-star eventually.
Our stay at the Cayacoa was quite objectionable to say the least. It was quite immediately apparent that the Cayacoa had only recently been opened and that the hotel was not fully constructed yet.
·No working TV
·No working ceiling fan
·Wires hanging out of the wall
·Cracked glass on the balcony
·Deeply scratched bathtub lining and grout covering the surface
·No plug for the bathtub
·Footprints on the ceiling due to recent installation and no cleaning
·Non-functional smoke detector
·Grout all over the bathroom
·Cold water only in the shower
·Construction in the room next to us
When we arrived in our room we immediately discovered a number of problems with the room. Most important to us was the fact that the ceiling fan and the TV did not work. We reported this immediately to the front desk. This resulted in having service people entering our room on many occasions over the next two days. However, they never managed to fix anything.
We felt that the wires hanging out of the wall were quite dangerous and stayed away from them. Electrocution isn't a concern that one should have while on vacation. We met a couple who actually were electrocuted every time they turned their lights on. These sorts of problems seemed to be a common discussion topic around the hotel. We also felt that the smoke detector posed a risk due to the fact that it was still wrapped in plastic and couldn't possibly have detected a fire in our room.
We were also constantly plagued by noise from construction in the room next to us which began at 7 o'clock in the morning. It only seems reasonable that we be able to sleep in past 7 am while on vacation. They appeared to still be installing the bathroom which generated a lot of noise into our room.
·Numerous food poisoning complaints
·Poor quality and poor tasting food
·Unhelpful staff who only swept concerns under the rug
·Construction all over the hotel
·Wharf construction made one beach unusable
·Available beach was too small for all guests
·Not enough chairs by the pool or on the beach
We had an endless set of problems while staying at the Cayacoa. As soon as we got up on the first morning and started talking to people we found out how many people were getting violently ill from the food. This wasn't an isolated case. We quite literally met a dozen people who had all had quite severe food poisoning and spent at least a day or two vomiting. Names and email addresses from some of these people can be provided if necessary. From this point on we were very careful what we ate. It was very clear that most people had gotten sick from eating at the snack bar. It was quite obviously the common thread among all our conversations. In the buffet we were served raw chicken, deli meat (ham) that was grey, calamari that was clearly bad, and generally poorly cooked food. We were lucky enough to be able to see this problem early and avoid eating these items. At that point we were terrified to eat anything for fear of salmonella, e-coli, ect. We had to switch to a vegetarian diet as none of the meat seemed safe. While at an all-inclusive resort, one would expect to be able to eat well, rather than the same oil soaked vegetables for every meal.
Concerned about the food and countless other problems, we took our complaints to the front desk. Nobody seemed to care. Problems were just dismissed as if they didn't exist. This hotel was simply about maintaining an appearance. If problems could be ignored then they would be. If people were getting sick then they would have to pay $120 USD to see a doctor, just as long as it isn't the hotel's problem.
We wasted the first 3 days of our vacation talking to the Air Transat reps. Since she was only available for an hour a day, and everyone needed to complain, it was very difficult to get anything accomplished. Our complaints were listened to but every day it was just a matter of having to wait until the following day for something. First they had to call the main office to find out why our reservations were lost; next we had to wait to see if they could get us room that was finished; then we waited to see if we could get back to the hotel we originally booked. Because each day we had a meeting set for the following day it was impossible for us to book any day trips out of the resort. We could not do what we wanted to do on our vacation because of this.
The resort was far from being the five stars that it is advertised at. Much of the staff was quite rude. At one point I tried to exchange a wet towel for a dry one and was told that I was only allowed one towel per day. I wasn't asking for much, but try as I might I could not get a dry towel. This struck me as odd since we saw them give numerous other people new, dry towels without any problems on several occasions. This sort of service was pretty common throughout the resort. Getting a cup of coffee in the morning was like pulling teeth. When one asked for an alcoholic drink, there was most often less than ½ an ounce of alcohol in it. When asking for more alcohol in the drink, the staff were rude and often did not get around to it. The fact that the Bahia Principe included unlimited alcoholic drinks was one of the reasons we decided to stay there.
Unless you got up at 8am in the morning there was little chance of getting a chair by the pool or on the beach. There were simply not enough to go around, so people would rise early and reserve them with towels. Getting up early on vacation shouldn't be required. This is hopefully one of the problems at the hotel that can be quite easily fixed in the future.
Stay away - Far, far, away!
Here's our 2 cents:
When arriving at the Gran Bahia Principe Cayocoa in Samana, we were checked in and taken to our rooms. What our agent failed to inform us of, was that the "junior suites" that we were booked in were not ready and had not been lived in before. We arrived to our first suite that had an air conditioner leak in which the room was completely saturated with water. As the maids placed a garbage can under the vent, another maintenance worker attempted to place our carry on luggage on the bed and clean the puddles on the ground. Disgusted by the state of the room, we insisted that we be placed into another room. However, in order to make this happen, we would have to travel to the front lobby which consisted of a steep 41 stair vertical climb, with no shuttle service from our villa location. Moreover, aside from the fact that the suites are completely non wheelchair accessible, some stairs did not have handrails on either side, and because of the nature of the incline, it would be quite possible to break a limb if you were to slip and fall.
After successfully changing suites, we then found ourselves in our "dream suite". Upon arrival to the room we determined the following to be issues of concern:
·No functioning phone.
·Leaking shower which created puddles of water on the bathroom floor, making it easy to slip and fall upon leaving the shower quarters.
·Extremely low shower pressure.
·Limited hot water.
·Wires coming out of the walls - exposed electrical.
·Electrical sockets in the bathroom did not function.
·A leaking sink, which we placed garbage bucket under to contain the leakage.
We then asked a maintenance worker to come to the room and attempt to fix the problems. Two hours later of sitting in the room while he worked, our air conditioner began working but was not as cold as it should be. Our toilet was fixed 3 times, until we watched the maintenance worker fix the toilet so when it broke down we knew how to fix it ourselves. Not what you would expect from a 5 start resort.
Our second day there started as we were awoken at 7:30am to the sounds of construction as yelling maintenance workers scrambled to finalize the portion of the resort in which we were taken to.
We both have some serious concerns regarding the food quality, preparation, and cooling conditions of food presented in the buffet restaurant and snack bar. A lot of the people at this resort contracted a mild to serious form of gastroenteritis, some becoming violently sick, including the two of us. We were bed stricken for days and at the point where one of us felt it was necessary to see a doctor, there was no functioning phone within our room to make the request. After violently vomiting for 1 day, we had the unfortunate pleasure of consuming broth, bread and french fries for the rest of our trip.
Shuttle to Cayo Levantado beach:
As the hotel's acknowledgement of the one beach's being sub-standard, and the other, completely unfinished, the hotel offered guests the opportunity to visit the public Cayo Leventado beach free of charge. Transportation to the public beach was arranged courtesy of the Gran Bahia Principe and was contracted to a local company, for the transportation of guests. Three boats transporting roughly 30 hotel guests traveled across the water at extremely dangerous speeds, knowing full well that guests were un-protected as safety preservers were not present on board for passenger safety and security.
Other things to note:
Business Centre - 1 computer worked, the other did not.
Casino - Promised but not present.
Tennis courts - Promised but not present.
Great View of Samana Bay and Harbour
The check in at the Cayacoa was a pleasure (apparently they were opened two months ago). They had a welcome package with keys, towel cards, map of the hotel, hours of operations waiting for us (friendly, fluent and organized). We also got some of the best rooms in the hotel 505 and 507. The rooms are located on the highest floor facing Samana Bay (501 to 510 should have the same view). Also the hallway outside room 501 to 506 is open on the land side which gives you a great view of Samana harbour and downtown Samana itself (definitely worth an elevator ride up to get a few shots of the town).
The rooms have double door entries. Once you open the front door, you have the 5 piece washroom on one side and a line of closets on the other. Then another door opens onto the bed room itself. This design eliminates hallway noises altogether. The deep, private balconies have very comfortable chairs, a table and a clothes line to hang wet stuff.
The resort have a large pool with a swim up bar and a hot tub (really a warm tub). There is also a Jacuzzi area near the docks close to the snack bar which is constructed in a native style e.g. wood railing and floors, thatched roof, etc. There are a lot of stairs to climb to get back and forth to the docks or you can take a longer route with ramps (from the pool deck). There is only one working beach that most people take an elevator to get to. The beach is small and made of coarse sand and the water is not clear (did not use the beach or swim in the water). The beach is not private since locals appear to use the far end but vendors are not allowed in. However, the hotel allows guests to sign up for free trips to Cayo Levantado (25 min. boat ride away) which runs from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm. You get to go on the public beach there and use the beach chairs for free. We went twice and were never asked to pay for the beach chairs but apparently, the security people ask for 2$ to 3$ per chair from some tourists (especially from the cruise ships) and were getting it. There is a coral reef just off the East side of the beach where you can see a lot of fishes, sea fans, starfish, etc. Look for a large school of small fishes (thousands) which swim in circles around you (a memorable experience). Keep an eye out for purple jelly fishes to avoid stings. The water is clean, clear, warm (83 degrees) and sand is white.
The food is good with a lot of varieties (chicken, beef, pork and fish at every meal). We especially enjoyed the fried half rock lobsters and fried shrimps with garlic oil. There are unlimited trays of papaya, passion fruits, cantaloupes, watermelons and sometime starfruits etc.
The drinks are delicious. They use a blender and ice cubes to made real cocktails. You can get drinks at the lobby bar, the pool bar, the snack bar, the beach bar, the show bar (shows are housed in a different building which means noise is contained) and of course at the restaurants. The red and white wine is from Italy.
There are three a la carte restaurants, Italian, Seafood and Gourmet. Tried the first two, both had delicious food and good service.
From Cayacoa, you are able to walk into Samana or take the resort shuttle (like a large golf cart) that drops you off at the bottom of the hill. There is a flea market whenever the cruise ship is in which sells crafts, cigars, jewelry etc. (of course at higher prices). All prices are negotiable but with a bunch of rich cruise ship tourists around, it is more difficult to deal. However, there there some fine shops and a Supermarket where you can buy souvenirs, coffee and rum at reasonable prices.
In conclusion, we enjoyed our holiday adventure at the GBP Cayacoa despite the lack of a nice beach at the resort.