Just returned after spending Christmas week at the resort.
We have booked the Royal Golden Club Gran Bahia Principe El Portillo through Air Transat, departing from Toronto, Canada. Our flight landed at the new airport in Samana, went through Customs/Immigration in less than ½ hour (the new terminal is bare with freezing cold air conditioning). We then took a 90 minutes bus ride to the resort, which sits on the north side of the Samana peninsula, right on the Atlantic Ocean. I think the distance was only 50 km but the bus could not travel too fast on a two lane secondary highway.
According to the Air Transat Rep (Robert), the resort has only opened for less than 2 months. The property is supposed to be ?5-star? and has used 1st class building materials, with all rooms in the form of 2 or 3 stories villas. We were lucky as our room was pretty well perfect. However, a few people in our group had lots of issues with their rooms and chose to move to a different resort in Samana City. Check in took a while as the counter people were only fluent in Spanish and ended up getting the manager for assistance on almost every cases.
There was one buffet and 3 specialty restaurants (Gourmet, Fish and Oriental). With Golden Club, you were allowed 4 specialty restaurant sittings and had to be pre-booked. The booking of these sittings took a while as there was only one Guest Service lady with limited office hours.
Buffet served good food but not 24 hours. They didn?t really sticks to any time table and only opened for business when they were ready. From our experience, breakfast was from 7 to 10, lunch was 1 to 3, while dinner was 7 to 10. Most waiter/waitress were new, spoke very little English, trained but lacked experiences. The Specialty restaurants served good food but service was terrible. Terrible meant they tried hard but just incapable. It?s like a water torture sitting through the slow and disorganized ordeal (3 hour dinner). There?s also a snack bar, with table service, where you could get food and drinks all day.
There were 3 bars in total with the main bar having lots of chairs and table service. The other 2 bars were situated between the pool and the beach. The beach and the pool have lots of lounges and shades most of the time. The beach has fine but not white sand. The water was clean and shallow to almost 30 feet out. Free kayaks, catamaran and wind surfing were available.
The hotel offered 4 excursions; the ½ day El Limon Waterfall, full day Catermaran, Jeep Safari and a speed boat ride that went to the National Park.
The closest town was Las Terrenas, a nice 90 minutes walk from the resort (either along the beach or on a palm lined road) or a one way US$10 cab ride. It?s really tiny with some European flavor where they closed between 1 and 4 pm. Something I would do once as it was not overly exciting.
Nightly activities was nothing to speak off. Three were nice live music where you could dance to but the shows, or lack of, sucked.
Overall, the resort is still under construction/expansion. Food, sun and the beach were above service. People that worked there were mostly friendly. You could tell they were trying but lacked experience. Good value for the money.
This is from an other web site