The Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Hotel & Spa, 5-star adults-only property on Bavaro Beach, Punta Cana, has recently completed a 6-month make-over, restoring it as the flagship property for Bahia Principe in the Dominican Republic, writes Andrew Forbes.
I headed to the Caribbean to celebrate the hotel’s inauguration / reopening party; marking the return of the Bahia Principe Ambar Hotel as one of the island’s best all-inclusive adults-only resorts. Here’s my inside-track on what’s holidaying in Punta Cana is all about…
It’s easy to get to Punta Cana – there are direct scheduled flights from the US, UK and Europe, as well as holiday tour operators that provide flights.
We flew BA direct to Punta Cana’s contemporary international airport. This modern hub might handle almost 8 million passengers, but it still has a homespun Caribbean charm, thanks to its traditional architecture, with open terminal terraces and pitched roofs covered in palm fronds.
Upon arrival it felt so good to be embraced by the warmth of the Caribbean. Our driver was waiting for us; and had a cool, fresh hand towel for each of us, a welcome gesture after the transatlantic flight.
The drive from the airport is about 30 minutes, along the new highway that links the airport, the booming town of Punta Cana, and the luxury coastal resorts of Playa Bavaro and beyond.
This eastern tip of the Dominican Republic has become a favourite for Caribbean holidays and Spanish family-owned Grupo Piñero, of which Bahia Principe is a part, has played a significant role in the island’s tourism success story. The group has 14 properties on the island including the Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar, and the group’s very first property Grand Bahia Principe San Juan.
With a wide range of properties, Bahia Principe offer guests the chance to combine different locations in one holiday; maybe the luxury and liveliness of Punta Cana with the seclusion of the Samana peninsula.
Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Hotel has been completely renovated.
All-new guest suites including fabulous swim-up suites with private pool access…
and an upgraded gastronomic offering from a gourmet coffee shop to a la carte fine-dining including ‘Portofino’ Italian restaurant,’ M.E.A.T’ steakhouse; and the truly memorable ‘Limbo’ restaurant which also has a superb cocktail bar.
The luxury hotel is also part of the new Bahia Principe ‘Escape Experience’ – properties that offer signature Bahia Principe experiences that encompass all elements of one’s stay from compelling live entertainment like DJs, the new burlesque show, and rock show; to fascinating immersive excursions to explore the Dominican Republic and discover the history of sugarcane, tobacco and cocoa in the Dominican Republic – oh and the chance to discover, and try the national drink, mamajuana!
Guests of the Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Hotel also have access to select facilities across the seven-hotel Bahia Principe Bavaro resort complex including a new Sports Bar, and additional a la carte restaurants.
The Dominican Republic is a Spanish-speaking Caribbean country that together with its neighbour, French Creole-speaking Republic of Haiti, shares Hispaniola. That means ‘the Spanish island’, so called following the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492.
If you head out on a Bahia Principe excursion expect to discover more of the island, see its beautiful outside, and experience some of its culture.
We headed to a cocoa plantation, to discover how the Dominican Republic has emerged as the world’s largest producer of sustainable, Fairtrade-certified cocoa. It was a fun trip, and the farm had ingeniously created different zones to show the different crops of the island from plump cocoa pods, maturing in the shade of banana palms and trees; to sugar cane, and even vanilla, with plants climbing the trunks of mature tropical trees. There was even the chance to see how tobacco was traditionally rolled into cigars. It’s a great way to get a flavour of this fascinating Caribbean island.
Bahia Principe also has a property on the picturesque island of Cayo Levantado, in the spectacular bay of the Samana peninsula.
Even if you’re not a guest, you one can enjoy this amazing area on an excursion that includes horse trecking through lush woodlands on the peninsula, surrounded by trees covered in flowering bromeliads and lush ferns. Accompanied by the sound the river water and the song bids one arrives at the impressive Cascada Limón waterfalls, where you can cool off by bathing in the lagoon. After heading back, one is rewarded with a lunch of traditional Dominican cuisine including chicken cooked with molasses – so good! Oh, and expect some splendid rum – they often serve it with sparkling lemonade, called affectionately ‘Dominican Champagne’ – cheers!
Then it’s a catamaran ride to the beautiful island of Cayo Levantado – and time for piña coladas served in fresh pineapples and playing in the sea.
It’s the kind of relaxed and fun day that’s captures the essence of a Bahia Principe ‘Escape Experience’.
The Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Hotel is right on the beach, with a huge pool too, so there’s plenty of different areas to kick back a relax.
Reading a book on your room terrace; sipping a rum cocktail at the pool bar; or dozing in the shade of a coconut palm on the beach.
The heart of the property is the huge lobby with its colonial style architecture, and impressive vaulted ceiling. Here one finds the reception, the guest experience team, the lobby bar and also close by the new Coffee Shop, a great place to start the day with a freshly made gourmet coffee.
Mamajuana is the national drink of the Dominican Republic – a unusual beverage created by blending rum, wine and honey and leaving to steep with tree bark and herbs. The resulting alcoholic tipple is a little like port – and thanks to the herbs and natural ingredients the locals will be quick to share stories of its health benefits, from improving digestion, to increasing circulation.
Well, the Spa at the Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Hotel has taken inspiration from Mamajuana creating massage therapies using the product in its essential oils. I just had to try it – combining two of my favourite things, being pampered and enjoying a tipple!
The facilities are great and the team so friendly. And the massage? I can testify that it was most relaxing, although I didn’t really notice the influence of the mamajuana ?
I was fortunate to stay in one of the new swim-up suites at the Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Hotel. The well-proportioned guest room, including seating area, desk and plenty of storage opened onto a private terrace with sun loungers. Steps led into the pristine pool that ran the entire length of the building. All ground floor suites have been made into swim-ups.
The room was bright, contemporary and elegant and included a welcome amenity of fruit, macaroons and a hand made chocolate giftbox, containing a chocolate fountain pen. I now wish I have photograped the pastry chef’s work – bu instead I just devoured it!
Daily maid service and evening turndown are provided, as well as all-inclusive mini-bar with rum, vodka, whisky, refreshments, and snacks. Plenty of bottled water too; and a coffee machine too. There are 528-rooms on the property.
Each block is served by a butler station; friendly, dedicated team members that can make restaurant reservations, book excursions, and provide additional house-keeping services like press a garment for you. It’s a nice touch and elevates the service offering.
The great thing about all-inclusive is that it makes dining with friends and family so much more relaxed. Everyone can order exactly what they want and there’s no thinking about the bill.
Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Hotel has raised the bar when it comes to all inclusive dining. In addition to the buffet restaurants there’s a new sports bar & terrace, and fine-dining a la carte restaurants.
Limbo is unmissable – the strikingly elegant design, with a central cocktail bar has a sophisticated urban style.
The cocktails are designed to go with the seasonal tasting menu. I chose the ‘AngleKiss’, with pineapple, basil, lime and gin – sounds unusual but it was divine.
From the tasting menu we tucked into the beautifully presented creamy sea urchin and the scallops – sophisticated appetisers with layered flavours. Starters included prawns with spicy mango, and a superb steak tartare.
Fresh fish was a great choice for main course. In fact, there tasting menu suited all tastes with seafood, fresh fish and vegetarian dishes – it was certainly a highlight of the all-inclusive dining at Bahia Principe.
Family-run Grupo Piñero is committed to make a positive economic, social and environmental impact in the countries in which it operates and is committed to contributing to the Dominican Republic’s tourism growth with significant investments such as the remodelling and development of the Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Hotel. The group provides housing for some 3,000 islanders; assists with local education; and is also working with local communities to help deal with the pressing issues of waste management on the island. The group has dynamic corporate social responsibility initiatives and is working to reduce the use of plastics on its resorts.
The Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Hotel is part of Bahia Principe’s seven hotel complex at Punta Cana.
To book an all-inclusive stay at Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar visit: www.bahia-principe.com