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GBP Samana - We're here!


#1

Hi all,

We arrived yesterday at the GBP in Samana. As expected there are a few glitches - and when I say a few, I’m being polite!

First the positives - the hotel is breathtaking - truly charming, romantic, beautiful. The Samana area is lush and luxurious, we enjoyed the one hour drive from the airport. The small beach is quite nice, fine golden sand, no seaweeds or rocks to knock your toes on. However, definitely not enough loungers down there, but we lay on our beach towels until someone left. Still an enjoyable day at the beach.

The place has been renovated and repainted. All new fixtures in the rooms, which also have jacuzzis. One of the problems is that some of the renos are still going on and they are still having problems with the plumbing.

The food is ok, the usual buffet fare you get in these resorts. We’re not starving. Service is quite poor. The waitstaff do work hard, however they are definitely not professionals, they seem to have been hired at the last minute with little training. We usually have to hunt them down for any kind of drink. It would really help them if they had self-serve drinks like many other resorts. The tables take a long time to be cleared, and linen is usually soiled.

Our room is quite beautiful, overlooking the ocean, with a beautiful 4 poster king sized bed. However, we are among the lucky ones. We have heard stories of people having one bed for 3 people, major plumbing problems, etc. Some people have left and gone to another hotel because of this.

I think the major problem is that this place was probably not ready to open. The staff seem very inexperienced, ie. the bartender needs to look up the ingredients for popular drinks like rum punch and banana mama! No such thing as “Luis’s especial”! Check in was quite unorganized. First they gave us our keys on the bus, then they took them away because the rooms wouldn’t be ready until 3PM. And of course we didn’t get our room until about 4:30, but we were lucky, some people didn’t get theirs until 6pm. We still don’t have a comforter on our bed, we’ve asked several times now for extra blankets and still nothing. There is one iron for the whole place so hubby had to wear a wrinkled shirt for xmas eve! No one’s ever gotten back to us on anything we have asked for. We have been invited to call room service - no one answers the phone! But we realize that in the face of the major problems other people are experiencing, this is really minor and we’ve given up asking.

I never thought I’d be one to complain about staff not speaking English, but it really is a problem, you usually expect key people to know English and the bartender can’t understand a simple request for water! Quite happy my Spanish is coming through…

Very few of the advertized amenities are available. Royal Golden? Nope! What club house? No beer in fridge. No hammocks. No newspaper. I’m actually quite surprised to be using the Internet right now! One disappointment is that the shuttle to Cayo Levantado is not available, the Transat rep denies this was ever available, and yet many of us remember seeing this advertised somewhere. I think it might have been in the reviews when it was the Occidental GB. There are no water sports available whatsoever, no boogie boards, no snorkel equipment, nada. The entertainment, although at these resorts we don’t expect Vegas, is really, really bad! Just the animation team running around stage pretending to dance - nothing really prepared or rehearsed.

Are we sorry we came? No. We did expect glitches, although I admit to having been rather annoyed at times. This place is still definitely a 3-star even though it’s marketed as a 5-star. It does have potential, it just needs to get its act together and have professionals in charge. As I said, the area is breathtaking, and sitting on the beach makes all your troubles go away! Just don’t expect top notch service for now. Hopefully this will change before long and it will be brought up to at least 4.5 star standard, which is how Transat markets it. The advertisements leave you the impression of luxury which is definitely the case for the actual location and that’s about it.

This place should probably be marketed as a couples resort. There is very little to interest children and teenagers, but the place is definitely romantic. They also apparently have only about 10 rooms with two beds in them, a big problem for some of the families here!

The weather so far has been nice. It is the rainy season, so when we arrived yesterday it was raining, but the afternoon was beautiful sunshine. Today it sprinkled for about 2 minutes, not even enough to pull us away from the beach. It’s warm, but not stifling, and the nights are almost cool.

Well, it’s only 1 day and a half into our trip, so hopefully that’s it for most of the glitches! The Air Transat rep said this place was an eco-tourism area and it is absolutely amazing. One trip marketed by the rep is a speed boat tour through a mangrove forest. How eco-friendly is that??? We plan on wandering off resort, not on any of the expensive excursions, but we might take a taxi into Samana or one of the other towns.

Well that’s it for now, off to shower at 10:00PM since there was no hot water left to shower for dinner! We also do have satellite tv so that will probably be our nightly entertainment.

Feliz Navidad!

Natalie & Tim


#2

Welcome to Samaná… :wink:
I am sorry to hear about your ‘flaw sheet’.
Samaná is trying to shift to luxury tourism. Unfortunately you came early and are bound to find yourselves in a ‘guinea pig situation’… :-/

An excursion to Los Haitises NP or El Limon Waterfalls may destract you a bit…

mountainfrog
on the other side of the peninsula


#3

Natalie and Tim - Thank you for your frankness about the resort. Hopefully, as you say, the negatives are behind you now and that you enjoy the rest of your vacation. All travellors deserve to know the positives and negatives of any resort, and its up to them to determine if they want to go.


#4

Wow. First off all I want to thank you for taking time out on your holiday to post a candid review of your first few days at GBP Samana. As I am with you in thinking that key personnel would know some English, and hence would remedy at least the most mundane of issues of their guests, I find it disheartening that this isn’t the case. Have you cc’d the powers that be at Bahia Prinicipe via their web site regarding some of the “bumps” that have occured? Not to lesson your mention of an absent comforter, but touting themselves as a 5 star on their web site and behaving like a 3 star ie. food, services…are a concern. My better half and I chose to book this hotel prior to the opening based on Bahia Principe’s advertised assertion of a 5 star status. Your review has my husband mentally calculating whether his Visa Avion credit card will allow us to cancel without penalty, and choose another destination : )
I do hope that the rest of your vacation is a happy enjoyable one!


#5

Any more news? Are things improving - -does anyone else have any reviews – what about other resorts in Samana?


#6

Hi- Natalie & Tim Thank you so much for all the info… we are going to EL PORTILLO in Jan 06/07. there’s 13 of us going, it sounds like we are going to make our own good times. Would it possible to get e-mail and phone # for the resort.
Nicole


#7

natalie and tim say they are staying at g b samana which is different then the el portillo, i hope at least. i am off on the 7th of jan for one week and looking for a great hotel as I am bringing my grandmother for her 80th birthday!! (she is quite picky and judgemental) I notice there will be many people around that day so see you all there!!


#8

Hi Natalie and Tim!

Thanks for taking the time to let us all know what the hotel is like. We are coming down there in February, so your insights are most welcome. We were wondering: do you have any pictures of the rooms or any pictures of the restaurants? It would be great to see what’s become of the place.
Thanx!

RayK


#9

I had posted this update a few days ago on Tripadvisor, but people were waiting to use the Internet so I didn’t have time to copy it here. Also just arrived tonight and time for bed, but sentiments remain the same:

We are approaching the end of our 7 day stay and we still say that we had no regrets about coming here. The place is paradise and if you simply want to relax and do nothing, this is the place. Yes there are glitches that others have also experienced however, there are less and less daily. The food at the a-la-carte for the one time we were there was amazing. The trouble was we had to wait 45 minutes past our reservation time to get in. We tried to book again the following day but they were full for the next three days. One person managed to get himself in after us after complaining loudly. We just didn’t go there because the buffet is really quite good and after all we are on vacation. The staff is loosening up daily and they are smiling more.

As for the shuttle to Cayo Levantado, the jury is out on the accessibility. There was a private boat coming into the beach offering a shuttle for $50 US return which we thought was a bit pricey. We are very happy with the beach here as there are NO vendors. The beach is fine sand although it is not white. No worries for us.

As for anyone interested in tennis or golf - leave your rackets or clubs at home. There is an old part of the resort across the road and down a bit. There is an old par 3 course straight up the hillside. The flags look like they have been sitting there for 30 years. The tennis court is in ruins. It is not due to lack of interest. They don’t have it. Period.

As for the Royal Golden, here is what the transat website lists:
-Accommodation in spacious deluxe rooms (YES - OUR ROOM IS AMAZING BUT NOT EVERYONE WAS SO LUCKY)
• Concierge service and direct line to concierge desk • 24-hour room service (light menu) • (WE TRIED BUT NO ONE ANSWERED THE PHONE. THE MENU IS SALADS AND FAST FOOD - DEFINITELY NOT WHAT WE EXPECTED. THE MENU FINALLY SHOWED UP TODAY)
-4 guaranteed reservations per week for à la carte dining •(SOUNDS GREAT BUT WE TRIED BOOKING A SECOND TIME BUT THEY ARE FULL - WHAT GUARANTEE?)

  • Separate check-in/check-out (NOT TRUE - WE WERE HERDED IN AS A GROUP AND THE ROOMS WERE NOT READY)
    -and full access to the Royal Golden Club House, a private lounge exclusive to Royal Golden guests (WHAT CLUB HOUSE? WE WENT OFF SITE LOOKING FOR IT AND IT DOES NOT EXIST. NO ONE SEEMS TO KNOW WHERE IT IS)
    • Newspapers (HAVE NOT SEEN ONE YET) and free Internet access (YES ALTHOUGH IT IS AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE AND IT HAS BEEN DOWN FOR 3 DAYS)
    WE DID GET THE FOLLOWING:
    • Beach towels, bathrobes, slippers in room • Mini-bar restocked daily (water, soft drinks and beer) • Coffee-maker in room • VIP room amenities (soaps and lotions)
    • Turn-down service (NOPE)•
    -Welcome letter and distinct identification bracelets -YES

The service is improving and the staff is working very hard with almost no sleep. We have talked with a few of them and they are really a good group of hard working and enthusiastic people. We sense that the problems are coming from the top down and they are being fixed from the top down. There are noticeably more full place settings this week and more clean linens and more personal attention. We are thinking there may have been some initial supply problems. To test our theory we went to the GB Prinicpe Cayacoa in Samana. We had lunch there and wandered about. The door was opened for us when we came into the restaurant. Dirty plates were gone before we even noticed and the service was great. The no smoking rule seems to be enforced at that site in the restaurants whereas here, it is a constant annoyance. There were signs there but no signs at our site. Our point is that the service felt 5 star.

So that is about it for now. We are still on vacation and we would rather be enjoying this place than being on the internet. LOL! Good night .

Tim and Natalie:)


#10

Thanks for all the information, we are supposed to be leaving Toronto on Jan 7th but have just received word from Expedia that there is no tennis and non motorized water sports. As we are avid tennis players and enjoy sailing this is a real big blow. We are trying to change our reservations but time is very short. Don’t know yet if we will be there or not. I was relieved to see that Air Transat Will give a full refund as Expedia has told us they would not. Any one have information about the Casa Marina Bay?

We are very grateful for the postings as we are pretty upset this evening regarding the changes.