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.
Natalie & Tim