Gran Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado in Samana, Dominican Republic
To celebrate my birthday I had a holiday in Samana, Dominican Republic during January 2011. The base for my stay was a five star hotel named Gran Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado.
Gran Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado belongs to the Bahia Principe chain, which has 20 all-inclusive resorts in Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico and Spain. Ten of the resorts are in Dominican Republic, four of which are in Samana. These are as follows: Gran Bahia Principe Cayacoa, Gran Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado, Gran Bahia Principe Samana, and Gran Bahia Principe El Portillo. They are all five star hotels, but only the Gran Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado is located on a secluded island (also known as Barcadi island). The other three hotels are dotted around Samana Bay.
Cayo Levantado is a small island on the Dominican Republic’s north-east coast in Bahía de Samaná on the Samaná Peninsula. Gran Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado is located 3 hours from Las Americas International Airport in Santo Domingo (SDQ) and just 80 minutes from the new Samaná Airport. After travelling from Samana Airport there is a 15 minutes boat shuttle ride before reaching Cayo Levantado.
The Gran Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado features 195 rooms including junior suites and master suites in one central building and several villas and bungalows surrounded by landscaped gardens.
The facilities of the resort include two main swimming pools and an open-air Jacuzzi, an international buffet restaurant, three a la carte restaurants(seafood, Italian, and Mediterranean), 2 snack bars and several bars including a lobby bar and a swim up bar. There is also a cigar bar as well as tennis courts, a gym and a spa.
I booked the Gran Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado via Thomson Holidays, a well known travel agent in the UK. My all-inclusive package included: buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner; three dinners in the a la carte restaurants, unlimited snacks, domestic and select international beverages, 24-hour room service, boat shuttles to and from the mainland.
When I arrived at Samana Airport I was welcomed by Thomson staff and given some information about the Gran Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado. Before I took the coach to the hotel I was given a plastic bracelet to wear on my wrist. It took about 80 minutes to get to the ferry pickup point from where we took a 15 minutes boat trip to Cayo Levantado Island. After a short greeting by a hotel manager we were allowed to our rooms. For some unknown reason I was the only guest who got their room key when arriving at the hotel. Others were given theirs at the airport.
My room was 506 in the main building, but the lift just took me to the 4th floor and there was no sign to lead me to my room on the fifth floor. I had to go back downstairs to ask the hotel receptionist. After being guided by a member of staff I finally walked into my room. However I then waited almost 2 hours to get my luggage, which had been misplaced because the label on my suitcase had been knocked off during the boat transfer.
When I saw my room I was a little upset. The room size was reasonably big, but not as large as I had read in other guests’ reviews. The kingsize bed looked comfortable, but I didn’t like the low ceiling and the fan above the bed. The room had many lights, but unfortunately none were very bright. The balcony was partially open and had sea views in the distance.
The bathroom was big enough, but the bath with a Jacuzzi was small and the shower over the bath suffered from very low water pressure.
What I like:
The room was comfortable and well-furnished and it was quieter and more private than others. The food in the buffet restaurant was tasty and ample. The Mediterranean a la carte food is delicious, although the choice is limited. On my birthday they even made a birthday cake for me, which I really appreciated.
Most staff were very friendly and efficient. The private beach was not very big, but very good for swimmers. The pools were beautifully designed and very clean. The gardens were colourful and full of attractive tropical plants. The evening entertainment was quite interactive and great fun.
Last but not least Gran Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado was very convenient if you want to go whale watching.
What I dislike:
It’s a little far from Samana Airport and the road between the hotel and the airport was not flat. Most staff can’t speak English. The night entertainment host used Spanish as his main language when comparing. The cost was almost 20%-30% higher than other hotels in Samana Bay.
Conclusion: It was a very enjoyable stay in Gran Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado. I would recommend it to anybody who wants to stay in an isolated place and just relax.
Finally if you are visiting between mid January and April I thoroughly recommend taking a whale watching trip. It’s something I’ll never forget.