All-inclusive resorts are a dime a dozen in the Dominican Republic but the Catalonia Royal Bavaro is a true stand out in providing an experience differs from all the other ones I’ve been to.
For months I had been looking forward to this mini-vacation. With summer just about over, I knew this was going to be a great way to prolong it just a little longer. Better yet, this was a trip I didn’t have to plan anything for.
Plane tickets? Check. Resort booked? Check. How do we get there? Guess we’ll just cab it. What are we going to do when we get there? Meh we’ll figure it out.
Yup it was just what I needed. Time to recharge and relax.
About the Catalonia brand
For Canadians and in fact just about anyone around the world, the Dominican Republic (DR) is somewhere that millions flock to, to get away. Punta Cana is probably one of the most well known resort area in the DR.
To say there are just a few resorts here would be a gross understatement. Almost the entire beach line is dotted with resorts. Picking a good one out of the hundreds out here is a task unto itself.
One boutique resort brand that stuck out to me when doing my research was the Catalonia. I’d say they’re lesser known than say the Iberostar, Gran Bahia Principe and Sands. However, as I read more and more into the brand itself, I realized that they’re a huge brand, especially out in Spain. With properties spanning Barcelona, Ibiza, Sevilla, Canary Islands etc., you can say they know a thing or two about hotels and resorts.
The Royal Bavaro
The Catalonia Royal Bavaro is situated just 20 minutes drive from the Punta Cana airport in the Bavaro beach area. Once our cab made our approach to the grand entrance to the Catalonia Bavaro, I realized that the whole property is massive. Not only does the complex house the Royal Bavaro, but there’s also the Bavaro and also the golf course.
The “Royal Bavaro” is not to be confused with the “Bavaro”. Our resort, the Royal Bavaro is the adults-only property and I would say the little sister to the Bavaro. Unlike its big brother, the Royal Bavaro is smaller but much more refined, exquisite, intent to focus on the smaller details, personalized and relaxed. The beauty of staying at this resort is that you also get access to everything at the Bavaro so you basically get two resorts in one.
What stuck out with us the most was how laid back. Despite being close to capacity, it never felt like the resort was overloaded with people. Most times, we’d be wondering where everyone else was whether we were by the pool, beach or at a restaurant.
Bigger is not better
I mentioned earlier that this is a smaller resort to the big brother Bavaro and some may think of this as a disadvantage but honestly we appreciated the smaller, cozier and more intimate setting the Royal Bavaro provided. For us we loved how we could get to anywhere we wanted to in less than 5 minutes. You didn’t have to walk through a labyrinth of paths just to get back to your room if you forgot something.
Better resorts don’t have to shout their luxury to the world. Instead, going with a “keep it simple” motto with less fanfare and distractions is what made us enjoy the Royal Bavaro as much as we did. Activities aren’t pushed at you and you’ll never find any peddlers on the beach. You’re left to your own devices and the main theme is just to do your own thing and relax. Nothing is overwhelming.
Loved the decor
From the entrance to the restaurants, the suites and the lush green grounds, I loved how they’ve kept with a simple white stucco design that mixes traditional dark woods, Spanish tiles and colorful fabrics with touches of modern straight lines and simplicity. I remember just going “wow” as we explored the resort our first day. It quickly evoked a zen-like atmosphere.
Luxury at its center
With great service, attention to detail and focus on refined experiences, there was truly a greater sense of luxury here than at any other resort I’ve stayed at in the Dominican. More on this below so keep on reading!
Getting checked in
Upon checking in we were greeted with a cold and refreshing welcome drink which was a just what we needed after landing in the hot and humid DR. Once the paperwork was all settled we were escorted back outside to a golf cart where we were quickly whisked away to our room. Our bellboy lugged our suitcases up two flights of stairs to the third floor and gave us a quick tour of the room as well which was much appreciated.
I will say though that the check-in process was a bit slow for us due to the fact that they only have two staff and two computers at the check-in desk so if there’s a large group of people wanting help, you’ll have to wait awhile.
A step into our Junior Suite Superior Room
One thing you should know about the Royal Bavaro is that every single room is a suite and newly furnished. I was expecting a much dingier room but was pleasantly surprised with how new and refreshed everything was. I absolutely loved the decor and design of the room with a giant king sized bed with canopy accent, a mini living room area with couches and coffee table, a balcony complete with its own drying rack, chairs, table and hammock. Then throw in the giant bathtub in the room that we used as a jacuzzi without the bubbles. Everything else was set up in a logical way including a huge open bathroom area by the entrance with a lovely rainfall shower.
The amount of detail put into each suite is incredible.
Decor wise, the warm colors and dark wood accents created a welcoming atmosphere. The simple lines convey a sense of modernity and that crazy wooden branch lamp gives it a contemporary flare .
The food & drinks
Let’s start with the drinks first. One of the first things we did after getting settled in was try out their mojito and daiquiri, both of which I’d highly recommend.
Out of all the bars we tried (the swim up pool bar, the beach bar, Sea Blue snack bar and the piano bar), the piano bar was our go-to simply because the lines were never long here and because of our favorite bartender Miladis. Of all the staff on the property, she was the one that went the extra mile for us, creating custom drinks for us, chatted with us and overall just tried to make us smile.
No alcohol was spared with any of the drinks we had. In fact the bartenders weren’t afraid to pour tons of alcohol in our drinks. Their local beer, Presidente, was not watered down either.
Food wise, one thing you’ll notice is that aside from breakfast and the beach BBQ, there really aren’t any buffets here. With luxury being at the core of things here, this made a lot of sense because this way, the resort could deliver a better dining experience. You’ll also notice that with this you never have to worry about food left out in the open air so there’s no chance of food spoiling which is always a concern with resort buffet food.
During our stay we were able to try each restaurant: Thalassa Restaurant, Sea Blue Snack Bar, Cata Tapa Restaurant and Tao Cat. See all the assortment of foods we tried during our stay.
Overall I thought the food here was good but there is room for improvement. Our favorite has to be Cata Tapa for its tapas appetizers.
So many places to relax
The pools were my favorite part of the resort. Over the course of the 4 days, we essentially rotated between the beach, the infinity pool and the Thalassa pool. Each had it’s own vibe and were all great to sunbath, go for a dip, nap or just read a book. It was the perfect R&R formula. There was never a moment where we didn’t have a drink by our side.
Never overcrowded, the Thalassa Pool was great if you wanted to use the swim up bar, hang out in the giant jacuzzi, chat with new friends or sunbath on the three white seats just above the water.
We loved the infinity pool area because it was much quieter and they had these amazing cabana chairs for two which were so incredibly comfortable to lay on. Swimming up to the edge of the pool also gave you infinity views of the beach and palm trees ahead.
Lastly you have the beaches, right up against the Atlantic Ocean, there were an abundance of beach chairs scattered all around. What I loved about the beach was that there was a lot of shade to work with here since the sun can get pretty intense during the day. From palm trees to the fixed wooden umbrellas, there was always some way to position yourself whether you wanted to be in the shade or out in the sun. It also wasn’t a beach where there were rows and rows of generic blue beach chairs. Because of how scattered everyone was, it never felt incredibly crowded.
Oh and how can I forget about the hammocks on the beach as well. Another great way to spend the afternoon doing a whole lot of nothing.
Between grabbing new ice cold drinks from the bar, bobbing up and down in the ocean or just laying on the chair listening to the ocean breeze and crashing waves, I was in my zen state when at the beach. We loved it so much that the morning of the day we had to leave, we purposely woke up early to nap by the beach before breakfast.
One complaint I will make about the beach is the seaweed that accumulates on the shore. This area gets massive amounts of seaweed washed ashore so I understand the difficulty of maintaining it but as a result, you won’t get clean white sand beaches here.
To be honest, we didn’t partake in any of the activities that they had on the calendar other than the beach party BBQ. There are definitely organized activities but honestly there’s enough “chilling” you’ll be wanting to do that activities will be the last thing that comes up in your mind.
If you’re looking for excursions, the front reception has quite few tour operator representatives there. They will gladly recommend activities for you to do outside of the resort. For us, we chose to do diving with Sea Pro Divers and surfing with Macao Surf Camp.
In the evening, be sure not to miss out on the live music at the Piano Bar. We particularly loved the amazing pianist that was there during the live piano performance (Tuesday and Friday 8-11PM). He was so good that a bunch of us even sang along!
A day in the life
Tips & tricks
- The cab ride costs $30 USD. Someone called us over when we picked up our bags and at first it seemed a little sketchy but they just wanted to take us to the transportation counter. I guess they just wanted to avoid having people getting into the regular taxi line. It didn’t really matter to us since we still got a private ride over to the resort and it cost the same as the fixed prices that are prescribed by the airport.
- The room is outfiited with both European (2 prong) plugs and North American plugs. We didn’t bring our plug converters but if you wanted to really maximize on the outlets, I’d bring a few Euro converters (or North American if you’re coming from Europe).
- The fresh fruit juices at Thalassa Restaurant for breakfast are so good.
- Dining dress code – A top is required for both men and women. For dinner, men have to wear long pants (I got away with capris type pants). Flip flops are good anytime.
- Out of all the food we tried, fish was always the best choice. We felt like the quality of fish was good here and they were able to prepare it a lot better than the meats.
- Fresh coconuts served only every Friday from 11-12PM.
- Not quite advertised but in the afternoon where Tao Cat is, they serve amazing pizza until 6PM.
- Bring a thermos or Bubba. All the resort pros know about this. 1) Keeps the sand away while lying on the beach, 2) The bigger the mug, the better! This way you don’t have to run back to the bar so many times, 3) Keeps your drink icy cold.
- A Dominican Republic’s specialty, try all the different types of Mamajuana including the fruit-flavoured ones, passion fruit and pineapple, at the piano bar!
- Don’t forget that you have access to The Catalonia Bavaro next door which has it’s own shopping complex, casino, theater and even more restaurants.
- If you want to ensure you get a beach chair for the day, make sure you get out earlier in the day and put your towel down to “reserve” it.
- For fresh towels, make sure you grab them between 10-6PM. And if you’re looking to start out early the next day, make sure you swap for fresh towels before the towel hut closes. Worst case, use the white towels from your room.
- Snorkel gear is free but there is a $20 USD deposit so remember to bring some cash out.
- If you want a pristine white sand beach, look into Macao Beach.
- If you’er booking your own excursions, double check that they understand you’re at the “Royal Bavaro” and not the “Bavaro”.
- There’s no point in really converting to the local pesos. Everyone accepts USD at the resort.
- Bring lots of $1 USD bills. Great for tipping.
- When the sun goes down around 7pm, the mosquitoes come out so make sure you put your bug spray on! They’re hard to spot but they’re definitely out there. Most of our bites were from just lounging around by the pool as the sun went down.
Being an adults only resort, the Catalonia Royal Bavaro is perfect for couples wanting to escape and relax in a tropical paradise. It’s a resort that oozes luxury, will ensure you get your fair dose of Vitamin D and put you in a zen state of mind. By staying at the Royal Bavaro, you’re essentially getting two resorts in one as well since you have access to everything the Catalonia Bavaro has to offer.
If you’re looking for a romantic getaway, this is it!
Want to book or get a quote? Check out the Catalonia Royal Bavaro and have as good of a vacation as we did!
I was a guest of the Catalonia Royal Bavaro. As always, all opinions expressed are entirely my own and does not reflect the compensation received.