Iberostar Grand Bavaro
We recently returned from a fabulous (and much needed) vacation to Punta Cana’s Iberostar Grand Bavaro. I must say… the ‘Grand’ lived up to its name. We have stayed at many different Iberostar resorts over the years (you’ll see my list below), and if you want luxury, fantastic 5-star meals, a pristine beach and ocean…. Then this is the place for you!
The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination, and brings eternal joy to the soul… Wyland
My husband and I decided last minute to book a trip. We hadn’t travelled in two and a half years (there was some sort of virus going around… wink wink). As soon as restrictions began to lift and we saw many other friends and/or collegues travelling – so we thought – LET’S DO IT!!.
We found the Iberostar Grand Bavaro on the Air Transat website. Aside from a tiny ‘blip’ trying to do it all online and being on hold for over 5 hours to speak to an agent… it was all booked and we were ready.
We flew out of Montreal.
Tip #1: If you live in the Ottawa area, check out departures from Montreal, especially during the March Break season. Oftentimes, it is much cheaper than the Ottawa airport. We saved roughly $2000 or more by doing it this way.
We stayed at the Doubletree Hotel next to the airport. They provide a shuttle service to and from the airport and gated parking for your vehicle so we were at ease with any of our pre-travel worries (Where to park? What time should we arrive?). The Doubletree and its staff will put you at ease with any concern you may have. Even when their parking is full, they have an arrangement with the Fairfield Inn (we have also stayed here – also fantastic) across the street to use their lot (which is what happened to us). A superb hotel for your pre-holiday stay.
Arriving at the airport was a bit nerve racking for me. I think because I have not travelled in so long, I had forgotten all my normal routines and ‘at hand’ items I needed. Plus, with some extra steps required – ArriveCan, vaccine status, and self-boarding stations – I was a tad bit flustered at first. Luckily, my husband thrives and excels at this. He took over and the whole process went so smoothly.
Our flight was hiccup free and we arrived on time at the Punta Cana airport. We had not realized when we booked that we purchased a ‘Luxury Collection’ option. We were unsure what that meant. Well, apparently, our bags were tagged priority and when we reached the baggage claim, our bags were within the first 5 on the carousel. Our package also included a private transfer to the hotel and we were in and out of the airport and sitting in our private van within 10 minutes. Another 25 minute drive and we were arriving at the resort. All of this even before most were gathering their luggage and even leaving the airport.
Tip #2: If you can add this option – Luxury Collection Option with Air Transat, I highly recommend it. Our package included priority bags, private transfer, butler service, early checkin and late check-out, and Option Plus (prepaid seats and food as well as priority luggage tagged).
Upon arrival, we were greeted with huge smiles from the friendly staff. Check in was easy – although our room was not ready (even with our Luxury Collection option, they could not guarantee this), however, we headed to the lunch buffet for a scrumptious lunch.
Impeccable. Beautiful gardens and pools span the courtyards. A large ship/sailboat is parked just outside the ala cart restaurants – the deck of the boat is amazing for pictures or the Star Team (resort entertainment crew) will perform some nightly shows on this from time to time. Below deck, is a DJ, bar, pool table and dance floor. After the nightly entertainment, this was a perfect spot to let loose with some fun dancing.
Magnificent. Bavaro beach is rated #19 among top 20 beaches according to dominicantoday.com. You’ll find perfectly fine white sand that stretches for miles along side crystal clear turquoise water. Our beachfront and swimming area had zero seaweed (except for a couple mornings, but the Iberostar crew had it cleaned up and pristine by 9am) as well as no coral to step on. Plenty of palapas were available as well for that well needed shade from the mid-day sun. The beach butler came at regular intervals to ensure your thirst needs were well taken care of. We had the same beach butler each day – and on my husbands birthday (also St Patricks day), he surprised him with a bucket of corona beer on ice. My husband was so touched. Another bonus was no towel cards. You could go and change your wet towels at any time for dry fresh ones as well as request/take as many as you and your spouse preferred. We would grab 4 in total each morning – two for each of us.
We were located on the second floor in one of the buildings closest to the beach. We had a partial (very partial) ocean view – we looked onto Iberostar Bavaro Suites. Our room included:
- King Bed
- Balcony with table and chairs
- Jacuzzi tub
- Coffee Station
- Butler Service (our butler’s name was Ceasar and he was fantastic – more about him later)
- Unlimited refilling of refrigerator contents and you could request anything else. I drink non-dairy milk in my coffee so they brought me a carton of almond milk to keep in the fridge.
- Complentary canvas beach bagged (with resort use beach towels).
- Plenty of closet space
- Bathroon toiletries
Buffet: Scrumptious. We ate all of our breakfasts and lunches at the buffet plus one dinner. You could always find plenty to eat – we were never hungry afterwards.
Italian: Delicioso. Our starter salad was fantastic which led to each course tasting just as appetizing or better. Topping off with dessert was the icing on the cake.
Mediterranean: The salted seabass was delicious and again, their salad was superb.
Japanese: We went here for my husband’s birthday and had a fabulous time with the Habati setting with 2 other couples. The habati style cooking/eating provides some dinner entertainment with much laughter getting to know other couples at the resort.
Surf and Turf: Their steak was done to perfection. Lobster was not in season (they have certain times of the year where you are unable to eat/order lobster), so in place of any ‘lobster’ on the menu – was shrimp. Delicious.
French/Gourmet: We had never eaten at any of the resorts ‘Gourmet’ restaurants before. Mostly because our children were usually with us and there tends to be an ‘adult-only’ requirement to these restaurants. We were pleased with our meal.
My husband and I booked 2 massages while we were there. Both were in the spa itself. We had booked one for at the beach, but that day was so hot and there was no air movement within the covered massage area, that they moved us inside the spa. The therapists were outstanding. We always try to get at least one massage while on vacation. We splurged this one and received two. For us, it is an important aspect to incorporate into our vacation since it helps us relax and unwind even more.
The fitness centre is a spectacular 2-level section. The ‘cardio’ floor has treadmills and ellipticals facing the ocean – what a gorgeous view to run to. The ‘weights’ floor again has a spectacular view of the ocean with a nice arrangement of weights and machines for you to incorporate your regular fitness routine in. For my husband and I, it was perfect. For those who do more of a ‘weight training’ program – you may find it limiting, but perhaps a more sophisticated gym facility would be a priority for your vacation needs. We did feel we could work as hard or little as we wanted with what they provided.
Personal Butler Service:
We were assigned a butler to assist us during our vacation. Our butler’s name was Ceasar. He met us on our arrival day and outlined what the resort had to offer and asked us of any special requests that we may have. He was made aware of my husband’s birthday and arranged to have our room decorated, a bubble bath made, chocolate covered strawberries delivered (for an extra charge) and a chocolate cake presented. All of this plus a bottle of wine ready and waiting for our return from a wonderful day at the beach. Each day, he checked in with us via Whatsapp and if we needed anything – like arranging massages, dinner reservations or even excursions if we wanted – he was available to do anything for us. He made our week completely stress free with the above and beyond thoughtfulness that he had.
Tip# 3: Download whatsapp if your resort has a butler service. It is an amazing way – free of charge – to contact your butler and your resort representative (Air Transat’s representative also had a whatsapp number for our flight questions).
I would rate their nightly entertainment the lowest. Still good, but we have been to other resorts who had better. After dinner, there was usually a singer or entertainer by the main lobby bar. The Star Friends team would mingle with the guests getting everyone up to dance or learn to dance as well. A lot of fun. Their ‘shows’ in the theatre were ‘ok’. The best one was the Circus show and we were amazed at the talent these people had.
Sidenote: Since we were staying at the Iberostar Grand, we could use all the facilities of the adjoining/sister Iberostar resorts. The Grand is the top, so any other iberostar resort, we could visit. Their shows seemed to be a bit more lively, plus they had a casino so a few times, we hopped in the complimentary golf cart and shuttled our way over there for a hour or two.
Since we had travelled prior to April 1, 2022, we were required to have a rapid covid test. Twenty-four hours prior to your departure day, you would head over to the nurse who would preform the test. We were told immediately that it was negative and within 15 minutes, we received our negative confirmation. Very simple. Our next step was to then complete the ArriveCan app with our new status information as well as the Dominican declaration form for departure. Everything was completed online 24-48 hours prior to our day of departure. Again, simple.
Our private shuttle picked us up on the day of our departure and brought us back to the airport in style. Once at check in, we were asked to show our negative test result, but that was all. We were told prior to our vacation that our ArriveCan app would be required to be scanned. This was not the case for us. This also did not happen upon arrival back in Montreal. We had a normal re-entry through customs and we were on our way back home.
We have travelled to many ‘south’ resorts and upon booking, we always look into a few certain items that are important to us. We often go on Tripadvisor.com to read the reviews of any top resorts we are thinking about booking. Our top ‘must-have’s include:
- Beach – must have a superb beach or ocean area. This is a top priority for us
- Food – eating is part of the whole vacation experience and since we have experienced food poisoning on one vacation (self inflicted due to lunch meat being in the hot sun), that we also prioritize the level of food being served
- Size of Resort – we have been to smaller resorts and large resorts. Both have their pros and cons. If a large resort – a shuttle service is a must. For example the Iberostar Grand had a shuttle service (golf cart) which would take you to the sister resorts if requested. This resort itself was not a particularly large resort and could be walked easily.
- Location (with reference to airport) – a deal breaker to booking a resort is often how far it is from the airport. Who wants to be on a plane for up to 3-5 hours then a bus for another 2? The Iberostar Grand is a 25 minute drive from the airport. A Perfect distance.
Pros and Cons:
- Size of resort
- Butler service
- Use of sister resorts
- Location from airport
- Friendly staff
- Nightly entertainment
- Smaller resort with limited activity
Departure/Flight: If flying out of Canada – be sure to have your ArriveCan app all completed prior to your departure day. Also, Dominican Republic has their Declaration form (the one you used to fill out on the plane) all online now and can also be completed prior to departure. Just spending a few minutes a day or two before your flights saves an abundance of time and effort during your vacation.
Resort: If you are looking for a smaller resort which is all adults – you cannot go wrong with the Iberostar Grand. The service, food and beach are top notch. I would highly recommend this resort to anyone wanting a get a-way with their spouse. We will certainly return again in the future.
Tip #4: Screen shot all of your steps with regards to the ArriveCan app (the QR code) and Rapid tests. Make a folder in your ‘photo albums’. This will be handy and fast for any requests by airport officials.
All in all, this resort has made one of our top 5 Caribbean resort list. With only a few minor ‘cons’, we will return in a heartbeat for another relaxing and fun-filled vacation.
Note: Other Iberostar Resorts I have stayed at: Iberostar Quetzel (4 times), Iberostar Grand Paraiso, Iberostar Paraiso Maya (4 times). These can all be found at Iberostar.com.