I visited the Catalonia Royal La Romana the end of May, 2023. This wasn't my first Catalonia Royal stay, since I stayed at the Catalonia Royal Bavaro a few years ago, so I had some ideas of what to expect, I thought.
I'll break this down into pros and cons from a Canadian traveller perspective.
- the resort itself is beautiful and meticulously maintained. There were workers on hands and knees all day pulling weeds and trimming grass
- The beach is clean, sand is perfect and the water the clearest and cleanest I've seen in the DR with no kelp
- rooms are fairly spacious compared to other places, but we did pay for a swim-up room, so not sure what the base rooms are like
- check-in and out was nice and easy with a welcome cocktail
- the transfer to and from the airport was included in our package and was on time
- access to the larger, family oriented Catalonia Bayahibe next door, which I used a lot for the buffet and a couple of restaurants
- no obnoxious vendors on the beach. There is a small flea market/shopping centre down on the beach and vendors walked back and forth all day, but if you were in the beach chairs, they wouldn't even speak to you.
- there was always enough chairs to sit at the beach or the pool and not too many did the towel reservation thing in the early morning
- wi-fi seemed good throughout the resort
- not a lot of other Canadian visitors and not many workers there speak English, which made it difficult getting things we needed or wanted at the restaurant, bars or stores or from cleaning staff
- the Royal has 4 or 5 a la carte restaurants, but only has a breakfast buffet usually, except 2 days a week, they have a dinner buffet, but they are small and not much selection. A la carte are fairly quick though, at least the couple times I ate there. If you are a picky eater, you might struggle to find something you want
- room service is available 24/7, but choices consist of mainly a hamburger or fried chicken, not much else and if you don't speak Spanish, you can't order anything else basically
- the resort uses an app for all menus in restaurants and to actually book the restaurants, which makes the language gap easier, but you always need a phone with a barcode scanner app to order or book anything. Great idea, but I don't want to go on vacation and have to rely on my phone for anything, especially to get something to eat
- the biggest con to me was the room options, pricing and advertising. If you book, you'll see a selection of room choices, but none of the photos or information is correct, not even on their own website. I ended up paying way too much for a swim-up room which appeared to be one thing on the website, but turned out to not be close to that at all. I was very disappointed, since I could have went to a MUCH better resort for what I paid. This point alone is enough to keep from re-booking this resort again.
- we had a mouse in our room for two nights, but the resort seemed totally shocked there was one there and they caught it quickly. It is possible it came in with someones luggage though. No big deal and they acted quicklly to rectify
- the Exclusive Travelers Club will try and call you and get you to go to the lobby under the guise of a “welcome package”, but it ends up being a sales pitch for an expensive time share type membership…don't fall for it. I learned this from my last visit in Bavaro, so I didn't even answer the phone
- the room cleaning was great for half the trip, but a staff change half way through saw it become non-existent essentially. We were supposed to have fresh beach towels delivered every evening, and the first few days we did, even if it wasn't until 9 or 9:30 pm. The last few days, nothing.
- the food selections weren't great, but what they did have was tasty. I found myself eating 99% of the time on the family side (Catalonia Bayahibe) which had a larger buffet and was open more frequently for breakfast, lunch and supper/dinner
- the beach is beautiful, but the layout of the resort means it's a little hike to get there from one end of the resort to the other. They do have a golf cart that takes people back and forth every 15 mins though
- most staff weren't pleasant at all, with a few exceptions. I brought a couple hundred dollars for tips and used very little, because I rarely saw anyone going the extra mile to provide good service. The only exception was the room cleaning staff the first few days, which I tipped generously. Seems no one else really cared if you were happy or not there and could care less about a tip, which seemed totally different than it was a few years ago. I don't tip to receive good service, I tip to reward it and that's how it should be. I just saw very few instances to tip.