Prevue January/February 2015 - (Page 55)

Barcelo Bavaro The nearly 2,000-room resort has a knack for creating exclusive small group experiences [ON LOCATION] BARBARA SCOFIDIO F irst impressions of Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, often have to do with its size. I was struck by the scale of the art filling the many wide open public spaces: life-sized mosaic dancers greeting guests in the lobby, huge Chihuly-esque glass flower chandeliers, ceramic seashell statues the size of small cars. With the largest convention center in the Dominican Republic at 123,785 square feet, this is a property that understands conventions. The ballroom, Gran Salon Bavaro, can accommodate up to 1,200 attendees banquet-style and includes a nice touch: The wooden panels lining the outside wall can be removed to expose windows-and even a family of preening peacocks. There are also four smaller meeting rooms in the Clubhouse. You might think it would be hard to find truly private venues in the heart of such a massive resort, but that proved not to be the case. We took a peek at a couple, including a fabulous balcony off the Presidential Suite with its own infinity pool and another sweet spot for up to 300 located on the roof of the spa, the Le Lounge Spa, surrounded on four sides by blue tile pools so that it appears to be floating. This mega resort is skilled at creating exclusive small group experiences. With the Club Premium option, guests are whisked into a private lounge for a friendly check-in while they sip champagne and sample canapés and sweets. With 14 resorts in 17 countries, the essence of Barcelo Bavaro is distinctly Spanish, with dark, carved woods, ornate furnishings and fabulous light fixtures at every turn-cascading waterfalls of stained glass tiles. The complex is actually made up of two resorts-salmon-colored Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe and the Barcelo Bavaro Adults Only, adjacent to the convention center and where most meeting groups stay. The spacious guest rooms at both have a relaxed, no-fuss vibe, with sand-colored tiles and fluffy white bedding. Luxurious touches include walk-in Raindance showers, private Jacuzzis beckoning from the balcony, and what have been described as "the best beds on the market" (this writer would agree). The master grand suites come with charming wooden four-post beds. Extras include private concierge services and free WiFi. This is not a place to visit while on a diet. Many Dominican specialties are fried and bite-sized: exquisite puffs of fried cheese or bacalao, salted codfish. During our stay, the menu highlighted local dishes, such as sanocho (a stew of 7 meats); mofongo (mashed plantain); and, for dessert, a crystal sherry glass of sweet beans. Options abound for group outings, many centered on the ocean, from swimming with dolphins to chartering a catamaran for a cruise to nearby Sanoa Island, a nature reserve with untouched beaches that has been used by filmmakers as a desert island. An on-property 18-hole championship course, The Lakes, was designed by PB Dye (son of Pete Dye), and has more lakes than any other course in the Dominican Republic. | 55 54-55_Barcelo.indd 55 1/8/15 6:58 AM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Prevue January/February 2015

Planner’s Pick: New Orleans
Fresh Meets: Hilton
Bureau Buzz: Raleigh
Good Business: Monaco
Sea Shores: Royal Caribbean International
The Era of Personalization
On Location: Barcelo Bavaro
On Location: Caesars Entertainment
On Location: Grand Geneva
On Location: Guadalajara

Prevue January/February 2015