Travel Professionals International
Hear what people have been saying about our TPI Agents.
“We have so much enjoyed working with you on our vacation to Cuba. Your professional, friendly service was much appreciated. Marilyn B & family Varadero, Mar/09”
- Marilyn B
“Hi Marilyn, Overall the resort was incredible and I would recommend it without hesitation. In fact I would encourage anyone to go there. We researched the hotel a lot in advance on Trip Advisor so we were prepared for some of the things that we may not have been prepared for otherwise. The entire Bahia Principe property is HUGE!!! The Ambar itself is not large. With the Ambar you are fortunate to get an adults only resort with the option to hang out on and use the two other Bahia Principe Resorts on the property: the Bahia Principe Bavaro and that Bahia Principe Punta Cana. You are able to use the gym on those properties, the Spa, the Shopping, entertainment, restaurants, pools, bars etc. First I’ll start from the beginning. Our travel company was Air Transat but we flew with a West Jet Charter out of Halifax. I would highly suggest being at the airport 3 hours in advance. We were there about 2 and ½ hours in advance and we were almost the last in the huge line up. Once you get your boarding passes and get through security there are lots of coffee shops to sit at and relax. The West Jet staff on the airplane were amazing. “Matt” who did the speaking was hilarious and very nice. The only thing that I found a little strange was that you had to pay $5.99 to watch a movie or $1.99 to watch a TV show. There were some free channels if you didn’t want to pay. Other than that there was lots of leg room and the seats were comfortable. When we arrived at the Punta Cana Airport I was blown away. It is a very cool airport with thatched roof and all. Once you get off the plane you walk outside for a bit before entering the open air airport. It’s beautiful. Customs wasn’t any problem. As we read on Trip Advisor there are a lot of “baggage boys” who come up and “take” your luggage and start heading out of the airport with it. We were warned in advance and so we were stern and just kept saying “no gracias” over and over. If they do manage to take your luggage out to your bus you have to pay them. It’s not a long way to go either. Our bus was easy to find as it had an “Air Transat” sign in the window. If you have a problem there is a service desk just before you go outside and they will tell you what bus to go to. The bus ride was not long at all and you get to see a lot of Punta Cana along the way. Once was arrived at the Bahia Principe property the first guest were dropped off at the Bahia Principe Punta Cana. We were then taken to the lobby of the Bahia Principe Bavaro were we got off the bus and retrieved out luggage. We were told that we would take a trolley/cart to the Bahia Principe Ambar. We didn’t have to wait at all. We were immediately taken (with our luggage) to the lobby of the Ambar. There were two other couples with us from our plane. Once we arrived we were immediately given a cold, damp towel and a welcome drink. A porter took our bags and placed them beside his desk. We were then greeted by the manager who asked us to fill out some paper work. We completed ours first and he took it back right away. We had to wait until the others were done before the manager, Aldo, came back with our info packages and our room keys. He explained the map and layout of the hotel. We had requested a specific block of rooms via email and had also booked or a la carte restaurant reservations via email so we were eager to see if the requests were met. We did this about a month before leaving. We spoke with the two other couples. One couple requested a certain room block and restaurants about 2 weeks in advance and the other couple made no requests. We were pleased to find out that our a la carte restaurant reservations had been met. We were disappointed to find that our room request was not met especially since the couple who requested the same room block as we did only 2 weeks before arriving got there room and the couple who made no room request got the room block we requested. We did not say anything and just decided to accept what we had as we were eager to get onto the beach. We then found out from Aldo the manager that our room was the only room that was not ready. We waited for about an hour and a half in the lobby before we were taken to our room. Our room was room # 65208 and was a corner room on the second floor. The corner rooms are quite a bit bigger with a bigger balcony. There are blocks of buildings with building 60 and 67 being closest to the ocean and with 64 being right in front of the pool. Our building #65 was behind #64. We could see a bit of the pool but not the ocean. Our room was beautiful and extremely clean. The rooms are all the same with the exception of the corner rooms being bigger. They have a living area with a couch, a table and chairs and a lounge type chair. There is a flat screen TV on top of a beautiful and large armoire. The bed is a very large 4 poster king and is very comfortable. There is also a large closet with a safe and lots of shelves to put your stuff on. The safe is large enough to fit a laptop. We put our laptop, passports, money and jewellery inside and still had room to spare. The bathroom is very large and all marble. The vanity is big. There is a separate toilet area with a frosted glass door. The shower is huge with two shower heads. There is also a jet tub with really strong jets. We did use it but it does take a really long time to fill up. You do have the option to call the butler and have him fill you bath at a certain time and you can also request different oils and scents to be added to the bath for a small fee. The maid always cleaned our room very well. You can even request a time when they are to come. You just fill out a card and leave it on your bed. The only small problem I would say about the housekeeping was that sometimes the maid forgot to leave facecloths and sometimes she forgot to leave bath mats. There is a separate guy who fills your complementary mini bar everyday. He was a really nice guy. We left a tip for him everyday and he often left extra alcohol. Two of the days he did forget to replenish the Pringles but other than that he was awesome!! We took advantage of the free pillow menu every night. There is a menu in the book in your room. We would just call every morning and order a different pillow and it would be there after the nightly maid service before we went to bed. That was the other thing that I forgot to mention. The maids came back at night and turned down your bed, left chocolates and emptied out the garbage cans. I will also mention that we never saw any flies or bugs at all. The place was so clean. The staff was constantly cleaning. We even noticed a guy with a razor blade on his hands and knees in the walkway scraping stuff from between the stones. We always went to breakfast at the Ambar buffet. The food was amazing there. You had so many choices and everything we tried was excellent. There was an omelette bar, bread bar, smoothy bar and a scrambled egg station. What I really loved was that there was a diet corner where they had egg whites done up with tomatoes and peppers along with other low fat options. They also had low fat milk (chocolate too) and yogurt. Some other people we talked to ate at the restaurant close to the beach for breakfast and loved it. You can also order breakfast in your room if you want it. There is a menu of what is available in the room. I went to the gym every morning. It wasn’t a great gym for a 5 star but it wasn’t bad. The guy who worked there was awesome. After a breakfast and a workout we would head to the towel exchange located at the main entrance to the pool and got fresh towels. You can exchange your beach/pool towels as many time as you like which is nice. We would then get to the beach around 11:30 and always found some beach chairs. Sometimes it took some hunting but we always managed to get some. Most people did get up at the crack of dawn and put towels on the chairs. The beach is very large and very beautiful. You can walk for miles. The beach was quite crowded towards the Bahia Principe Bavaro and Punta Cana section but the Ambar section was never crowded at all. If you wanted to do aerobics or play volleyball you just had to walk a few meters down to the Bahia Principe Bavaro/Punta Cana section. There were vendors that walked the beach with different things to buy like jewellery, paintings, artwork, statues, and cigars, knock off designer sunglasses etc. They did not hassle you. You simply had to say “no gracias” and they would keep walking. If you did get them to stop you are in for a bargaining session. I picked out 2 pendants and a ring from one vendor and he wanted $425.00. I eventually talked him down to $20. So just be willing to have them walk away. I talked to one couple who said they got a painting from a vendor for $40 when he originally wanted $160 so the next day I decided to have a look at the paintings. The guy came over to my beach chair and showed me lots of beautiful paintings. He was very nice and gave us some free cigars. I picked out 5 painting and a package of cigars. He originally wanted $400 but quickly went down to $185. He looked hot and so I offered him some pop that I had brought from the room. He was very touched by the gesture so I gave him a few bottles to take with him and also gave him some mickies of liquor. He absolutely loved it. We settled on $110 for 5 paintings and a package of cigars. I thought this was great seeing that the couple we had talked to paid $40 for one painting. I went to the room to get some money and when I was there I grabbed some more drinks for him and a necklace I had brought for the vendors wife. When I gave him the extra stuff and the necklace he was overwhelmed. I ended up walking away with 8 paintings and the cigars for the $110. He was so touched that he wanted me to pick out extra paintings and didn’t charge me anymore money. There were always activities/games going on at the pool down there as well. The Ambar section of the beach has an adult’s only area which was strictly enforced by security. The other Bahia Principe guests were not even allowed on that section of the beach. The beach bar was awesome and the bartender that worked at it made the best Rum Punches and Mai Tai around. The pool was also very nice with lots of chairs. It was harder to find a chair here unless you were willing to get up very early and put a towel on a chair. Often a photo company would come around the pool with different animals and would take you picture with them. You could then go and buy the picture for $10 at the Peublo Principe photo shop. The Peublo Principe is a shopping, market and entertainment complex at the beginning of the Bahia Principe property. It’s about a 15 minute walk from the Ambar or again you could take the trolley. It had shops, a market where you could barter with the vendors, a stage with entertainment nightly, lots of outdoor seating, a internet café, a bank, a Casino, bars, a Karaoke bar, a disco etc. We found out after that you could offer the guys taking the picture a couple of dollars to take a photo with your own camera and they would let you. That way you didn’t have to go pay the $10. It is worth the $10 for the professional picture though. They are beautiful. The pool bar also had good drinks and the waiters and waitresses were very nice, especially Nicole. We ate lunch at the beach buffet restaurant. We did not try anything else for lunch. This restaurant was very close to the beach and right beside the pool so it was very convenient. It had a lot of selection. There were things like a salad bar, pasta bar, dessert bar and also hamburgers, hotdogs, nachos (which were amazing), fries, and chicken (which is famous and very good). We did not find that we ever had to wait in line for a drink or something to eat. There were many other options for lunch such as a beach café and the buffet but we enjoyed the convenient location of the restaurant by the beach/pool. We had pre booked reservations for 3 different a la cartes but we only ended up going to 2 of them and we loved them both. We went to the Garden Grill which was amazing. It was a buffet to start with a salad bar, bread, chilli, potato skins, cheese sticks, onion rings, soup, stew etc and then you ordered your main dish from a menu of about 8 choices. I ordered chicken which was very tender and full of flavour and my boyfriend had rib eye steak which I had a bite of. It was amazing!! The desserts were also good. The service here was excellent and you could have any drink you wanted including unlimited wine or champagne. I had the red wine which I really enjoyed. We also ate at “Maiko” the Japanese a la carte. It was our favourite. They bring you in to this room where there is a large grill. The room seats about 10 around the grill and you have your own waiter and cook. You start the meal with Sushi and Tempura shrimp and veggies. You are then served your choice of two soups. The cook then starts the show and does some fancy knife and spatula work while he prepares your meal in front of you. You can have chicken, beef, fish and shrimp or any combination of those. I had the beef and chicken which were unbelievable. My boyfriend tried all of the meat selections and loved them all. You also get rice and veggies. After dinner you are escorted to the main section of the restaurant which is in all candlelight where you are served coffee/tea/alcohol and a dessert. We chose Ginger Cake and Deep Fried Ice Cream. We ended up cancelling our last reservation because we did not hear great things about it. It was an Italian Restaurant but I can’t remember the name of it and we really loved the Ambar buffet. The theatre where the entertainment takes place nightly at 9pm and then the same show again at 10pm is located close to the Bahia Principe Bavaro so you must either walk about a 5 to 10 minute walk or grab a trolley/cart that will take you right there. These trolleys/ carts are going constantly and you never have to wait for very long. We often chose to walk as the grounds are beautiful and you are allowed to take your drinks so it was often a nice night walk with a great drink. The entertainment was hit or miss. The Michael Jackson show was cheesy. The impersonator really looked and moved like Michael Jackson but his lip sinking was awful. The Circus show was amazing and so were the dance shows. The Lion King was a little cheesy as well but wasn’t bad. We also really enjoyed the Mr. Bahia Principe show. It was comical. They take male members of the audience up on stage and the do a sort of “male pageant” with them. We also went to the Karaoke bar which was a lot of fun and really busy. We did not even step foot in the Disco but we heard it was a lot of fun and played good music. The other thing I forgot to mention is that we did go to the meeting with our Air Transat rep Fernando. He was from Montreal and was really nice and funny. It was helpful to go to the meeting as he explained more about the resort than the manager did and also talked about bartering with the vendors and different excursions. He was VERY helpful. We ended up booking the Dolphin Island excursion with him. It was pricey at $120 each but it was well worth it. You get on a bus at the resort which takes you to the Dolphin Island park. You get on a boat which takes you out to a huge dock in the ocean. You are able to swim with sharks and giant sting rays and then you swim with the dolphins. It was incredible. You can’t take your own pictures unless you want to stand behind a rope which is a little ways away from the dolphins. We bought the CD/DVD which included professional pictures of us with the dolphins, a dolphin island video, pictures of the Dominican and a video of the Dominican. It was $20. Now for the checkout. We were told that we could pay $15 an hour by our rep Fernando to keep our room if it was available. We decided to do this as we did not have to be at our bus to go to the airport until 5:25pm. Unfortunately our room was not available. This incredible couple that we met from Saskatoon offered for us to keep our bags and shower up in their room and we did this. If we didn’t do this we had the option to put our bags in a locked room and then shower in the gym. The gym had large, beautiful, clean washroom and fresh towels but it was easier to be able to access our luggage when we needed to. When we were ready to go we checked out at the front desk. Make sure you do this because they give you a ticket that you have to give to the bell boys in ordered to be taken to the Bavaro Lobby to meet the bus. We were then taken to the Bavaro lobby along with our luggage to meet our bus. The Air Transat Rep met us there and informed us that our flight had been cancelled due to a snow storm in Moncton and that our hotel was completely booked. She informed us that we would be bussed to another resort to stay for the night free of charge with all the drinks, entertainment, food etc. included. She also told us that all the other 137 passengers on our plane would be staying there. We were taken to the Barcelo Premium. DO NOT STAY here. It was awful. The rooms were very small and very dirty. The beds were uncomfortable and the air conditioner was not cold at all. The food was awful at the buffet and it was very dirty. There were lots of mosquitoes. We talked to a lot of people from our plane and all of the people we talked to said the same thing. They were all unhappy with the resort. We even went to the entertainment. The theatre and theatre bar was beautiful but the entertainment was awful. It looked like the dancers didn’t even want to be there. Overall we LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the Ambar!!!!! We also loved Marilyn’s service. She worked so hard to get us a resort we would love at a great price. Air Transat was great and we would not hesitate to book with that carrier again!! Thanks Marilyn!! ”
“Hi Diane! Just a quick note to let you know that our trip to Cozumel was fantastic!! The Occidental Grand was everything we hoped it would be. We thought it was just beautiful. The staff were incredible, it was immaculate there, and we really enjoyed the food! Honestly, we don’t have one complaint! I thought you might like to know, in case you are ever sending others there. Our boys had a great time – there were lots of activities for them, but it was also good if you just wanted to relax on the beach. Thank you again for all of the help you provided – you did an excellent job, and we will definitely contact you the next time we are planning a vacation!! Diane ”
- Diane (Group of 19 Family and Friends) - Cozumel, Mexico - March 2009 Spring Break - Occidental Grand Cozumel
“Hi Marilyn: We wanted to say hi and let you know that everything is going great in Florida. We loved the Port Orleans French as the service was perfect, rooms were nice, roomy and clean, and the food was okay. It was food court style and a bit high priced but overall good. Epcot was hot (83 degrees), Blizzard Beach was even hotter (87 degrees) and the NHL game we took in was FABULOUS! Sidney Crosby scored 2 goals which was exciting to watch. Today we explored Animal Kingdom, swam in the pool and plan to do a bit of outlet shopping tonight. The next few days will be in the high 80's so we're not sure where to go next!!! Thanks for everything :) ”
“Dear Angela, We just wanted to drop you a quick note to say how much we enjoyed our cruise...we had a FABULOUS time. Your advice to go with Royal Caribbean was on the mark...both the food and service were excellent. Also, the info you provided on our destination saved us a lot of time and proved very useful. They say that the days of travel agents are over - I say neigh! We wouldn't hesitate to use you again. Thanks for all of your help! Steve & Sherri P.S. The chocolates were a thoughful surprise and the cherry on top of an already great vacation. Steven May Re/Max Performance Realty ”
- Re/Max Performance Realty
“Hi Shelley, Thanks so much for helping me to book such a wonderful vacation to the Dominican for myself and my daughters. The Hotel was Fabulous ! Great food, excellent service and wonderful events planned at the resort. Nothing like some sand & sun to make you feel relaxed. I will definatley be phoning you again to book my next vacation. ”
- Toni,Morgan and Taylor
“Hi Marilyn Thanks for the welcome home. The flight there was terrible. It was very cramped and uncomfortable. At times, I almost felt claustrophobic. We were met by a representative and led to our buses. The bus actually stopped on the ride to the hotel to show us a drunk who had passed out on the side of the road. I found that to be a strange thing to promote. On the trip we were asked by the representative to leave a tip for the driver which I did not feel appropriate. We were signed in and then driven to our rooms. The rooms were quite nice; spacious, clean and quiet. Although we were split up into three different buildings, it worked out well. After a good night's sleep, we awoke to a beautiful day and roamed around the resort discovering what it had to offer. The brochure was right. It is NOT for the physically challenged. There are a lot of stairways and very few handrails The food was OK; nothing great but certainly not bad and it was always available. We used the a la carte dining 5 nights. Again, nothing spectacular but again nothing bad and you could always find something you liked. Drinks of course were plentiful and readily available. Not being too much of a drinker, I didn't get my monies worth in this area but that was my choice. We all went in to Guardalavaca one day on the bus (5 pesos each return) and visited the market. We had such a good time another couple and I shared a cab and went in another day(12 pesos each way). Another day we all rented scooters (27 pesos each) and rode into Holguin where we encountered a hustler who guided us around the city and showed us parts of the city that you wouldn't see on the tour bus. Another great day. There was entertainment every night in the theatre on the resort. Although not everybody enjoyed all the shows, I and my wife found every night to be fun and entertaining. Besides, it was free and so were the drinks. Tipping or presents are expected everywhere; maids, gardeners, maintenance staff, waiters and waitresses, bartenders and servers and every other Cuban who you come into contact with. When you go into town, you are accosted everywhere by hustlers who are trying to sell you something but when you already have a hustler looking after you like we did, he keeps the others at bay. Except for the fact that they separated my wife and I, the flight home was much better. We had a larger aircraft and we had more room. I found out later there was actually empty seats so I find it hard to understand why we kept apart. The weather was terrific. It was in the low to mid thirties every day with only some cloud on one day. All in all, My wife and I enjoyed it very much. Would we go back again? Probably not. Would we recommend it to someone else? Definitely. I think I covered everything. If I missed something you would like a comment on, please give me a call or email. Thanks ”
“The vacation that we wanted was sold out but Alan and Lyn took the extra step to call the provider and notifed us that there was additional availability when it became available.”
- Susan B., Toronto
“Hi Marlene, I had a wonderful time at the Decameron los Cocos in Rincon de Guayabitos. Thanks. Dave ”

“Superior service in all categories. Thank you.”
- James Stover - Akumal Beach Resort - March 2009

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