I stayed in the Gran Bahia Principe Esmeralda with my boyfriend June 9-16. This is my first stay at the Esmeralda and my third stay in Punta Cana.
I booked through JetBlue Getaways, which included the flight, hotel and transportation. Two weeks before we arrived I emailed the hotel asking to be in building 90 on the top floor and requested two reservations to the a la carte restaurants. When we arrived at the airport in Punta Cana, we were quickly taken to a van and transported to the Gran Bahia Principe Bavaro (the wrong hotel to be dropped off at). We should have been taken to the Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana, where we could have been picked up and taken to the Esmeralda (there is no direct way to get there via transportation). When we arrived at the Esmeralda, we met with reception for check-in and were quickly given our room keys and any information about the hotel. If you had emailed them prior to your arrival about reservations at any a la carte restaurants, make sure they give you your reservation tickets at check-in.
It is important that you get a map of the Gran Bahia Principe resort complex at it is very large and can be quite confusing (consists of Ambar, Punta Cana, Bavaro, Bavaro Premier and Esmeralda). There are three tram lines: the red line runs from the Esmeralda to Punta Cana Lobby; the green line runs from Bavaro/Punta Cana to the theater area; the blue line runs from the Ambar to the Bavaro Lobby. The trams run about every 10-20 minutes depending on how busy it is. If you don’t want to wait it is only a 10-15 minute walk from one end of the complex to the other. The Esmeralda, itself, is very small and easy to get around.
Our room was in the top floor of building 90, near the pool and closest to the beach (exactly what we wanted!). The room was very nice and clean, with a large bathroom, including a tub/Jacuzzi combo. The rooms were cleaned daily with lots of fresh towels and if you needed anything, you could just ask or leave a note. The room service menu is limited but if you go on a day excursion and miss meals it is nice to have for free. There are four other building 91, 92, 93 and the newer building 94 (construction next to it). All the buildings are not too far from the pool or beach, all within a 1-2 minute walk. I would recommend buildings 90-92, away from the construction noise. I would give the rooms a 4.5 out of 5.
The beach and pool areas in the Esmeralda are nice and clean, for the most part. The beach has the typical white sand and warm aqua water. The beach can become quite busy during the afternoon so I would recommend going there earlier in the day to avoid the craziness. There is a private area on the beach for the Esmeralda guests set back just a tad from the ocean, and there were always empty chairs (even in the afternoon). It is surrounded by many palm trees and plenty of umbrellas. The pool area also has several umbrellas, but there is definitely less shade. To be in shade in the pool area I would recommend getting up and grabbing a spot before breakfast (by 9 a.m.). The pool water is very warm, maybe 85-90 degrees (a little too warm for my liking). There is a bar on the beach and also in the pool. The Jacuzzi is nice and private, and hardly anyone is ever there. I would give the pool/beach areas a 4 out of 5.
As a guest at the Esmeralda you have access to any of the a la carte’s and all of the buffets (except the Ambar’s). The Jazmin Buffet Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food for all meals was quite good, with an abundant selection and plenty of fresh fruit. From late morning into midafternoon the snack bar next to the pool serves a mixture of foods. There are 18 a la carte restaurants, however many are seasonally and were not open. We visited the Bella Italia Restaurant (at the Esmeralda) and the Maiko Japanese Restaurant (at the Bavaro). Both experiences were good and I would recommend either of them. Again, I would email the resort requesting reservations prior to arrival. The waiters at all restaurants are friendly and try their best to get you anything you may need. The bar in the Lobby area was a nice spot to hang out during the evening. I would give the food a 4.5 out of 5.
As for entertainment and activities, the Esmeralda resort is very small and there is not much to do during the evening/night. However, with access to the other resorts you can go to the shows, hang out at the karaoke bar or dance the night away at the disco. If you want a quiet evening, then staying at the Esmeralda gives you that option.
Overall, I give this resort a 4.5 out of 5 and would highly recommend the Esmeralda to anyone!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Facilities and services 2 Pools Sun terrace 4 Jacuzzis Sun umbrellas and loungers Beach and pool towel service BAHIA SPA (additional charge) Sports facilities: gym, 3 tennis courts, 1 padel tennis court (additional charge), multi-sports court Water activity centre Motorised water sports (additional charge) WiFi access in the lobby (free) and in rooms (additional charge) Entertainment amphitheatre 2 buffet restaurants 3 speciality restaurants 3 Bars 1 Snack- bar Wedding gazebo Punta Blanca Golf Club: 18 hole Punta Blanca Golf Club, designed by Nick Price (additional charge) Pueblo Principe: Shopping and Leisure Mall with local craft stores, live music, shows, stores, bars, karaoke, disco and casino. Rooms, 570 Deluxe Junior Suite Room facilities: King size bed or two full size beds Air conditioning Ceiling fan Sitting area with sofa Terrace Fully-equipped bathroom with hydromassage bath tub and separate shower, hair dryer and magnifying mirror Bathrobe and slippers VIP amenities Radio-alarm clock Flat screen satellite TV Coffee-making facilities Ironing set Pillow menu Umbrella 24 hour room service Minibar WiFi Other services Medical service (additional charge) Pharmacy (additional charge) Specialised service for organising weddings, incentive trips, events and anniversaries Personalised menus (for celiacs, diabetics, etc.) Available on request ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Gran Bahia Principe Esmeralda Hotel Punta Cana