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Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort Introduction

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Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
© Mary Grady
Arriving at Barcelo's sprawling Bavaro complex, on the edge of a perfect emerald-green Caribbean lagoon, it doesn't take long to transition to a fully relaxed state. Wide, white Bavaro Beach, more than a mile long, is fringed by hundreds of tall palm trees swaying in the breeze, shading an abundance of comfortable lounge chairs waiting to cradle your overworked soul. But as soon as you've finished your check-in flute of chilled champagne and rested up, there's plenty to keep you busy.

Early in 2012, the resort completed $330 million in upgrades, expanding its activities for kids, and upgrading the 18-hole golf course with a new design by P.B. Dye. Golfers also got a new clubhouse with a bar and restaurant, and new hotel rooms with views of the greens. The resort has been refreshed and updated everywhere, from new deep-blue tiles for the pools to trendy rain-style showerheads in the rooms.

Barcelo, based in Spain, operates resorts around the world, and draws an international clientele. U.S. visitors are still in the minority here, so the Barcelo experience provides the added attraction of global flair, with a mix of visitors from Europe, Canada, Russia, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. But U.S. visitors are increasing. The privately operated Punta Cana airport, just 20 minutes away, added a new runway and facilities in 2011 to accommodate growing traffic to the region, and more U.S. airlines are offering nonstop flights, especially during the peak seasons.

Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort Rooms and Accommodations

With all that beachfront, the golf course, palm trees everywhere, and multiple sprawling pools, just about every room at the Bavaro Beach resort offers a relaxing view. Most popular are the junior suites, 800 of them in all, which have a king-size bed and an outdoor jacuzzi for two. Two-bedroom suites, sharing a bath, can accommodate up to six. Duplex rooms offer an upstairs/downstairs space with two full baths to accommodate families.

Four older buildings, at the far western edge of the resort, got a makeover in the resort's recent overhaul, and have been re-branded as the Adults-Only area of the resort. Don't go there expecting a roster of X-rated entertainment, however -- the only difference between the Adults-Only area and the rest of the resort is you're assured there won't be a noisy bunch of children next door to you. The rooms in this section are smaller, but still roomy enough for two, and the recent upgrade brought a bit of boutique style, with plush bathrobes, premium mattresses, iPod docks, and wi-fi. My room was in this section, with a balcony overlooking the beach, a minibar and coffeemaker, and a comfortable desk for my MacBook -- although, in an oversight that never fails to surprise me, there was no convenient place to plug it in.

For those in search of pure privacy and luxury, two "grand master" one-bedroom suites offer more than 2,000 square feet of living space. Two presidential suites are each over 10,000 square feet, with three bedrooms, a private infinity pool on the terrace, and a butler on request.

Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort Dining and Restaurants

© Mary Grady
The staff at Bavaro are proud of their upscale restaurants, and the service is excellent, with a wide variety of foods available, all of it served up in high style with plenty of creative flair. U.S. visitors who think beach means casual may be surprised to find the restaurants enforce a dress code, and lots of vacationers take apparent pleasure in dressing up in formal resort style for their dinner out. The restaurants also require reservations, with Club Premium members given priority, so be sure to book early to get the time you want.

Italian, Spanish, and Mexican cuisines are offered, along with a steak house and a seafood restaurant, plus French and Japanese, exclusive to Premium guests. That Premium status also grants access to a private breakfast nook in the Adults-Only area, where you can get excellent coffee and light snacks anytime of the day.

Personally, my favorite eatery was the casual Bohio Dominicano buffet, open for three meals a day, where we could sit outside in the shade and gaze out upon the ocean, feel the breeze, and watch the clouds roll by. The food there was abundant, varied, and tasty, and although the espresso came from a vending machine, it was strong and flavorful nonetheless. Fruit smoothies made to order were a great way to start the day.

Fresh, local food is hard to come by in Dominican resorts -- many of their edibles are imported from the U.S. -- but the buffet featured plantains, seafood, local cheese, and ice cream that lent a rich Caribbean flavor to these relaxed meals. One dining experience I didn't try, but looked wonderful, was a private dinner for two served on the beach beneath the palm trees and the stars, complete with white tablecloth, a bucket full of champagne, and serenading musicians.

Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort Activities and Amenities

There are lots of activities at Bavaro Beach, from the 18-hole golf course to volleyball to scuba lessons in the pool, but the real main attraction is the mile-long beach itself. An offshore reef protects the lagoon, so swimmers can enjoy the quiet, shallow waters without getting tossed in the waves. Kayaks, paddleboats, and small catamarans are available to play with, or you can try snorkeling and windsurfing. Beachside activities go on all day, from volleyball to ping pong to billiards, chess, yoga, and salsa dancing. For a break from the beach, abundant pools offer underwater lounge chairs, jacuzzis, and a swim-up bar. Multiple hydrotherapy stations drench swimmers in a powerful liquid massage, like sitting under a roaring waterfall.

A spacious gym and workout space is available for those who can stand to be indoors, and a spa offers massage, scrubs, and facials. At night, two theaters, a disco, 14 bars, and a casino provide entertainment. Child care is available 24 hours, with two water parks to keep the kids wet and happy. Teenagers have their own game room to hang out in, and at night, they can go dancing at their own alcohol-free disco.

Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort Information

© Mary Grady
Address: Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort, Apartado Postal 3177, Santo Domingo, Republica Dominicana
Phone: 809.686.5797, 809.552.1000, 800.227.2356
Website: http://www.barcelobavarobeachresort.com
Email: sac5@barcelo.com
Rates: $133 to $340 per person per day, all inclusive
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services for review purposes. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.

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