Hello 2023! My wife and I prepared to send off the 2022 travel season with a visit to one of our favorites – Punta Cana! Follow along and take a trip to Bahia Principe Luxury Ambar with us where we stayed for 7 nights in October 2022. Hey, better late than never, right?
We really enjoyed our stay at RIU Palace Bavaro in August 2019 so we decided to make a third trip to the Bavaro Beach area of the Dominican Republic. Luxur Ambar is not far from RIU (about 30 minutes walking time up north up the beach). Here is my resort report and review of Bahia Principe Luxury Ambar.
Just like our trip to Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa earlier in 2022, we flew out of our home airport of Tampa International Airport. Have I told you that it is my most favorite airport of all of the airports I’ve been too? Well, it is! Flying out of TPA makes slightly more sense than driving to Fort Lauderdale or Miami. As we were flying on Southwest, we were connecting through Fort Lauderdale this time anyway. The flight to FLL from TPA was about an hour. Better than driving nearly 4 hours, right? The flight from FLL to Punta Cana is about two and a half hours which is also quite easy.
Both flights were non-eventful (good) and we landed in the beautiful DR nearly about 5hrs later (with layover).
As a seasoned traveler, I had all of my paperwork ready for entry in the Dominican Republic and it was a breeze to get past Passport Control. We did have one of our bags rescanned but I think that was more a machine issue than anything.
I was also happy that we no longer needed to wear those dreaded face masks anywhere.
Lastly, we waited about 10 minutes for our Dominican Airport Transfers private shuttle to arrive and we were on our way! The total trip was about 25km and took approximately 25 minutes. We’ve used DAT a few times now and I HIGHLY recommend them. Vehicles are always clean, drivers are pleasant, and the service is timely.
Due to the size of the vehicle (I imagine), DAT and most (if not all), shuttle companies drop Luxury Ambar guests off at Grand Bahia Principe Aquamarine. There, you wait a few minutes and catch a local shuttle (golf cart like ‘train’) to the Luxury Ambar. After arriving at the main entrance of Luxury Ambar, we were greeted by Juan who pleasantly got our bags checked with the bellhop and took us to reception around the corner. The check-in was smooth, we were given wrist bands which acted as our room keys and our room was ready and waiting for us. Our resort liason took us on a quick tour of the main areas of the resort and then finally to our room. The entire process took about 30 minutes which felt a little long. The bags arrived at our room about 5 minutes after us arriving.
We had booked and requested a Junior Suite Deluxe Corner room away from the entertainment center as we aren’t really ‘partiers’ and Bahia Principe Luxury Ambar put us in building 60, 3rd floor which is close to the beach and pool. However, our room was on the south side of the building so we didn’t really hear the pool. The downside of being on the south side of that building though is that you are directly next to one of the main avenues for the golf cart train shuttles as well as pedestrians. We heard noise well into the night the first night and this was not pleasant.
Unfortunately, this room was not suitable for us.
The straw that broke the camels back and what precipated a few angry calls to the front desk and ultimately a room change is that the second night, there was a construction crew working just outside our building/room until about 4AM at the Las Olas Beach House. They were cutting tile and banging hammers repeatedly. As the son of a stone mason, hearing the sound of tile being cut is not something I expected in the middle of the night at a luxury resort. There is much better times to do that type of work such as when people are at the pool and beach. We also had a decent sized lizard end up in our room the first night (not entirely sure how) but to their credit, the staff was pretty quick to remove it.
We were ultimately moved to the 3rd floor of building 62 in room 62308 which got us far away from the noise from both the pool and any construction in that other area. The new room overlooked the main avenue or street of the resort.
As a result of the issues with the first room, we requested a bit of compensation (in the form of a couples massage) from the resort which after some back and forth they agreed too. It should not have been that hard for a luxury resort to make matters right as we effectively lost one nights sleep due to the construction racket.
Room wise, the rest of the trip was fine in 62308. Photos below (including the map) are from our 2nd room.
I am a huge fan of pools and prefer them over most natural bodies of water including oceans. Luckily, the pool at Luxury Ambar is quite good. However, there is a bit of a daily struggle to find a lounge chair as a result. Depending on the time of day, it could also get a bit busy in the water but it wasn’t generally too bad. One thing I really enjoyed about the pool was the fountains in the center. Not only were they aesthetically pleasing, but they also served as an unofficial masseuse. The water felt quite good beating against my neck, shoulders and back. Pro-tip: get a pool fountain massage. They are free and free is good.
There are plenty of water activities from the fitness team as well throughout the week and I particularly had fun in the Simon Says water aerobics activity.
Bahia Principe Luxury Ambar is generally a pretty well kept resort. All of the walkways, lawns, gardens, etc. are well manicured and taken care of. There was no issue getting around. Even in spots where maintenance workers were making daily daytime (refer to earlier comments about nightime) repairs or cleaning the flower beds, the work was confined to very small areas and the areas kept clean for guest passerby’s.
We did particularly like that you could walk around the resort largely avoiding the hot sun or rain. Each building has open air hallways that allow you pass through them quickly. This is particularly useful if you managed to get sunburnt like a typical tourist or during stormy days and nights.
During our visit we saw many resorts in the area had a LOT of seaweed. However, Bahia Principe Luxury Ambar seemed to do quite well in this regard. We took a long walk down to RIU Palace Bavaro one afternoon (we are a nostalgic couple) and almost immediately after leaving the property lines of Luxury Ambar, the seaweed started and continued all the way down the beach.
It was quite easy to get a lound chair or hut by the beach most days with plenty of towels. This was an issue at Paradisus Cancún when we visited in 2021.
Bahia Principe Luxury Ambar Dining Options
Bahia Principe Luxury Ambar offers many choices for food on the all-inclusive plan. We tried a few of them but liked the Main Restaurant Palmyra buffet the most. The other options are as follows:
- Beach Restaurant (International Fare – reservation not required)
- Pool Restaurant (International Fare – reservation not required)
- Portofino Italian Restaurant (Traditional Italian fare – formal dress code and reservation required)
- Limbo Restaurant (Gourmet fare – formal dress code required and long pants for men – reservation required)
- Steak House Restaurant M.E.A.T (Steakhouse – formal dress code and reservation required)
- Tequila Restaurant (Traditional Mexican fare – formal dress code and reservation required)
- Thali (Indian fare – formal dress code and reservation required)
- The Greek (Mediterranean fare – formal dress code and reservation required)
- Fish Market (Seafood – formal dress code and reservation required)
- Las Olas Restaurant (Steakhouse – formal dress code and reservation required)
We only visited Palmyra and Portofino (twice) so I unfortunately can’t speak to the quality of the food in other eateries at the resort but based on the food at Portofino and Palmyra, it was likely above average. We do not drink so we did not visit any of the bars.
I will say that the lemonade served at the resort was absolutely mind blowing. I was absolutely hooked on it and it completely replaced my usual choice of Coca Cola. So good.
I was also hooked on the ‘breadsticks’ or pizza crust that are served at Palmyra. It got to the point where the chef made me my own special batch and personally brought them to my table after noticing that I was asking about them for a couple of meals when they weren’t being made. Delicious.
Some examples of the food at Portofino:
Some examples of the food at Palmyra:
While most staff were friendly and eager to help you, the only problem with service was that at times, there wasn’t enough of it. Sometimes it took too long for wait staff during lunch or dinner to bring drinks, etc. Generally the trick to resolving this is to tip well which causes the staff to focus on you but even that didn’t always work here.
There were a few individuals who made the vacation a bit more enjoyable such as the Chef at Palmyra but others on the staff (particularly front desk) could use some improvement in customer relations.
Bahia Principe Luxury Ambar Video Highlights
Overall Thoughts on Bahia Principe Luxury Ambar
Having been to the Dominican previously, I’d say that Bahia Principe Luxury Ambar is a decent choice overall. Getting there wasn’t hard and the beach/pool/food (main components of a good tropical vacation) were pretty good. However, I think there are better options out there so we’re not likely to come back.
Have you stayed at Bahia Principe Luxury Ambar? What did you think? If you were to go again, would you do anything differently? Tell me in the comments below and let me know if my review of Bahia Principe Luxury Ambar helped.