15th December update: I’ve now written a tongue-in-cheek article called: Javier Cordero Gilsanz, Director of Barceló Bávaro Palace Deluxe Hotel, Dominican Republic – real or not? – I wonder if that provokes a response?
5th December update: I didn’t hear anything back from the hotel director – it’s not clear whether my messages have been passed on or not. On a positive note we now have the complimentary bottle of rum and were also given a late checkout to 6pm without charge – I thought it might be $50. The hotel grounds and beach are beautiful, the staff (with a few exceptions) friendly and helpful, the restaurant food is good quality although there are plenty of flies around and I’ve tended to stick to fresh-cooked dishes rather than those left sitting uncovered.
I’ll be reviewing this hotel (which has plenty of positives) when I return from my holiday, but wanted to describe the poor experience when we arrived on Thursday 29th November.
We booked and paid in full for an Ocean Front Junior Suite with Club Premium, direct with Barcelo where I’m a MyBarcelo mid-tier member. This was our second visit to the hotel and we’d previously booked the same level suite.
On arrival, we were pressured to accept a lower-grade ‘block 1’ ground-floor room. It took over two hours before a suitable room was provided and then only after I googled the name of the hotel director and told staff that I was going to call him. We eventually got to bed at what was for us 4am.
I’ve written to the hotel director with a link to this article and will update with the response.
The Barceló Bávaro Palace Deluxe Hotel is all-inclusive and ‘Premium’. ‘Premium’ hotels also have a ‘Club Premium’ that provides a separate guest lounge, high-end drinks, free use of the al la carte restaurants and some other benefits.
We’d previously stayed at this hotel in March 2014 for five nights, all-inclusive, Ocean Front Junior Suite with Club Premium – I wrote a glowing review at the time and copied the same to my trip advisor account.
This time I booked the same but for seven nights. We flew BA Prague – London – Punta Cana and got to the hotel at 20:15 Thursday evening. I’d booked the hotel direct with Barceló where I have their mid-tier status (doesn’t offer that much) and paid in full in advance.
We were tired but relaxed when we arrived – it was nice to be back at a familiar hotel we’d previously enjoyed. We headed straight for the club premium check in.
I explained to the lady on the desk that we were returning guests, last time stayed in suite 5370 and hoped to be near that location. She said that they had an ‘ even better’ room in block 1 (the closest block to the lower-level adults-only Bavaro Beach hotel) with a king bed instead of two doubles and we’d benefit from being away from the kids. I replied that if I’d have wanted to book the adults-only Bavaro Beach sister hotel then I would have done that – but we liked the block 5 location. Then we were told dismissively that there weren’t any suites available in those blocks.
After some more discussion, we reluctantly agreed to take the keys – although I said I’d be back if the room wasn’t suitable.
It was a ten minute walk to the room in block 1 – our porter led the way. As soon as the door was opened we could see the room was a lower standard – it was also a ground floor room (which I should have guessed by the number if I wasn’t tired) – with the sea view blocked by a hedge and a shower facility. There were several mosquitoes on the ceiling. I don’t even believe this was a club premium room – but even if it was ‘officially’ a premium room, it didn’t look like one and certainly not like the one we’d previously enjoyed, nor the picture from the Barcelo website.
I went back the next day and took this picture of the view from the room – and yes I’m sure you think it still looks lovely, but that isn’t what we paid for.
We told the porter that the room wasn’t right and he called the club premium reception – I spoke to them and they said they’d see what could be done and they’d call back in a minute.
We waited ten minutes – I realised that any room change would require new keys and so I asked the porter to take us back. Another ten minute walk later and we were sitting with a friendlier lady who really seemed to be trying her best to accommodate us.
We’d lost maybe an hour – so for us it was now 2:15am.
Another 30 minutes past as the lady tried to sort out suitable accommodation for us. She was on the phone but nobody seemed to be doing much for her – or us. It seemed that a room had been found but was being ‘cleaned’.
Another 20 minutes and I said that we really needed to speak to a manager. We were desperately tired and nothing seemed to be happening. I searched on Google for the name of the hotel director and found ‘Javier Cordero Gilsanz’. I showed his name and said I’d like him to speak to us and if the hotel wouldn’t do that, I’d call him myself.
This had some effect and a surly manager named Elvis presented himself. I explained our issue, that we had arrived two hours ago and still didn’t have a suitable room. Elvis said “well you were offered a suitable room and just didn’t like it”. I was pretty angry. Elvis advised that they were working on cleaning the room. I asked how much longer and he shrugged. I asked how long room cleaning took – he said up to one hour. I said, well it’s been that already so it must be ready.
Eventually 5264 was made available. The porter, who had been waiting all this time took us there – I tipped him for the second time.
We eventually got to bed at what was for us 4am.
Here is the view from 5264.
I’m outraged that any customer would be treated this way, particularly a returning customer who booked direct with Barcelo. Let’s see what Mr. Javier Cordero Gilsanz says.
I also forgot to mention that there is normally a welcome bottle of rum in the room – I think on our last visit we also had some cava and glasses. Our room didn’t have this, maybe because of the late cleaning – but nobody fixed that yet and I must ask about it.
We’ve avoided the Club Premium lounge since as it just brings back bad memories.
If you are visiting this hotel, I’d recommend contacting them in advance to specify the room and block you want.