If you’re planning on visiting Dominican Republic, IFA Villas Bavaro Resort and Spa in Punta Cana is a great place to visit. This 4 star resort caters to both, couples and families, is close to the airport, features newly renovated accommodations and a beautiful and well kept beach. A perfect Caribbean destination.
Two sides of IFA Villas Bavaro Resort and Spa
The lobby at IFA Villas Bavaro Resort and Spa divides the resort into two separate areas.
The first one, right off the lobby is the area with three story residences, buffet restaurant, pizza place, theatre, cafe, communication centre, hair salon, spa, gym, and a pool. This is a more active area with loud music playing by the pool during the day and theatrical performances every evening. If you like being close to everything and enjoy Caribbean music and festive atmosphere this is definitely a great area for your family.
The disco, on-site gift stores and medical centre divide the active area from the quieter area of the resort. On this side you’ll find Cafe Dominicana the “quiet pool”, children’s club, most of the a la carte restaurants, cigar lounge, pool with flamingoes, and nestled in the middle of the bungalow villa – High Beach Bar surrounded by four whirlpools. This area is geared towards adults. It is quiet and relaxing. You’ll see more couples than families, relaxing by the pool, enjoying a cigar or sipping on a speciality coffee here, than you will on the other side of the resort.
The Lobby and Guest Services
The lobby at IFA Villas Bavaro Resort and Spa is not very grand, but it easily accommodates the traffic that passes by there each day. As you enter the hotel, the check-in is to your left. The staff is friendly, informative and courteous. We arrived in the late afternoon and were checked in within minutes.
The other side of the lobby houses Guest Services. This is where you can make reservations for a la carte restaurants and where you can get more information about off the resort excursions. We decided to take the opportunity to visit Saona Island. It was a wonderful day trip and you can check out the posts Saona Island: One Destination, Four Adventures to find out more about the excursion itself. You can check out our packing tips for the excursion in Packing for Saona Island Day Trip with Kids.
Accommodations : Three Story Buildings vs. Bungalows
IFA Villas Bavaro Resort and Spa offers two types of accommodations. On one side of the resort you will find the three story buildings, while on the other 10-room bungalows.
The three story buildings are located in the more family oriented area. They are closer to the beach and all the amenities. The older buildings are now being renovated and the new accommodations feature a balcony and upgraded bathrooms and furniture. The rooms themselves are spacious and comfortably fit a small family of three or four. There are no elevators. The stairs are covered and fairly wide.
On the other hand, the other side of the resort features a bungalow villa. Each building houses 10 rooms. Each room features a nice patio with two chairs and a table. The decor is simple and modern. This area is much further from the beach. The distance, however, is not much of an issue as there are carts making rounds between the beach and the farthest part of the bungalow villas, picking up and dropping off guests from early in the morning until well into the evening hours. This area is also much more quiet. So if you’re looking for a relaxing time away from loud music, games and family activities, this may be a better choice for you.
Pools: Quiet vs. Active
Each side of IFA Villas Bavaro Resort and Spa has it’s own pool.
I would consider the main pool as the busy pool. It has a swim up bar, kids activities and games and festive, Caribbean music. It has a nice shallow area for the kids to enjoy. This pool is much more busy, as it is located right in the middle of the main part of the resort, en route to the beach. The families with young children seem to favour this pool as it is close to all the amenities.
The quiet pool is located on the other side of the resort, near the bungalow villas. It surrounds a walk-up bar and is close to Cafe Dominicana, Cigar Bar and Children’s Activity Centre. The music here is rather quiet and there aren’t many families hanging out by this pool. You’ll see mostly adults reading, sunbathing, relaxing.
IFA Villas Bavaro Resort and Spa has a very nice beach. A sandy path lined with palm trees leads to a pre-beach area with a spa tent, volleyball courts and one of the resort bars / restaurants.
The beach is well kept and clean. There are plenty of lounge chairs, neatly arranged in rows of two facing the water. You won’t have any problem finding a chair, even if you stop by later on in the morning. There are many small and medium size palm trees providing shade. Having said that, if you’d like to enjoy shade, you may choose to reserve your lounge chair before breakfast, as the shaded areas populate rather fast.
The morning on the beach is full of activities. There is music playing through the loudspeakers, exercise classes and a lot of different contests. Most of the activities run between 9:00am and 12:00pm.
On one side of the beach you’ll find the artisan mall and a few local restaurants. On the other, you’ll find the hut with water sport equipment. You can borrow kayaks or snorkels and explore the blue, Caribbean sea.
The swimming area is marked off with the buoys. It is not very far off into the ocean as right past the buoys is the passageway for catamarans and other daily tour ships. Little further off, on the water, you’ll find a whole lot of yachts and other boats, moored in the shallow waters. A nice sight to enjoy.
There are several restaurants at IFA Villas Bavaro Resort and Spa. There are two buffets, a snack bar and four a la carte restaurants to enjoy.
The main buffet near the lobby is your breakfast hub. It is big and spacious. You can get fresh smoothies and omelets made as you wait. There is an assortment of foods from meats, breads and pastries, fruits and vegetables. Everyone should be able to find something they would enjoy. The staff is very courteous and helpful, always serving you with a smile.
In addition to the main buffet, you can also grab lunch at the restaurant by the beach. It is much smaller, but nonetheless, it serves the same kinds of food as the main buffet. It is very convenient when you are spending the day on the beach. You can leave your towels on your lounge chairs, have some lunch at the restaurant and return to the beach with a nice cold drink in your hand to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.
You can also stop by the pizza place and bar called Pikalo to enjoy a drink and a slice of pizza throughout most of the day.
In order to enjoy any of the a la carte restaurants, you need to make a reservations. Reservations can be made over the phone, right from your room, or by visiting the customer service area. The reservations are taken from 9:00am on and you’ll usually find a line of people waiting to reserve a spot for their chosen restaurant.
The a la carte restaurants include: an international restaurant Caribe, a Japanese restaurant Bambu, a Mexican restaurant Jalisco and an Italian restaurant Bella Serata. Each restaurant offers different foods and flavours. We dined at a different restaurant each night. Out of the four restaurants our favourite was, unanimously, the Japanese restaurant.
Cafe Azucar vs. Dominicana
IFA Villas Bavaro Resort and Spa has two very welcoming and comfortable cafes.
Cafe Azucar is located near the theatre. Is is the smaller out of the two. Here you can enjoy a coffee or a cocktail. It is the most busy just before and after dinner, as it’s a great place to enjoy a little shade after the day in the sun. It is also one of a few areas with wi-fi connection. Since it is the smaller cafe and located in the more active area of the resort, it is sometimes difficult to find a spot to sit right in the cafe in the early evening. Having said that, many people would just grab a drink and sit in the theatre area right across from the cafe.
Cafe Dominicana is a bit bigger than Cafe Azucar. It is in a way, a passageway to the quieter part of the resort. I have to admit, it is my preferred cafe. It is more spacious and has many different sitting areas. The outdoor vegetation covers some of the open areas, which allows it to be a bit warmer during cool evenings and at the same time, much cooler during the hot days. This cafe, like Cafe Azucar, is very busy in the late afternoon and early evening hours. This is another one of the wi-fi spots on the resort, so it seems that many people come here in the evening to surf the net and catch up on their social media communication.
Even though, this is a family resort, I find the evening entertainment to be more geared towards adults. It is still appropriate for the younger audience, but much different from the typically family friendly entertainment that I’m used to. The theatre is rather large in size, but if you want good seats, I’d recommend you arrive early, grab a drink and enjoy some family time before the evening festivities begin.
Spa and Hair Salon
One of the reasons I chose IFA Villas Bavaro Resort and Spa in Dominican Republic, is because of the reviews and pictures I saw of the spa. I found their list of services quite extensive and price list comparable to many other spas. I liked that they have several massage areas, indoor and outdoor. You could get individual or couple massages as well. The staff was courteous, knowledgeable and experienced.
The hair salon is located right between the theatre and the spa. It provides all of the services one would expect at such a salon. The staff was very welcoming and helpful. I found the spa to be more busy than the salon, but even at the spa, it was not difficult to get an appointment for the desired treatment on a requested day and at a preferred time.
The gym is adjacent to the spa. It consists of two separate rooms. One dedicated to cardio and the other to weights. It contains a significant amount of equipment, and yet, I found much of the cardio equipment in use during early morning hours and late in the afternoon. The gym itself is clean and well kept. I felt very comfortable using it. The staff trainer is there, always ready to assist visitors, but not overly attentive, which I loved.
Fantasy Disco at IFA Villas Bavaro Resort and Spa is definitely one of a kind! The disco is geared towards adults. Bright disco lights, typical Caribbean music and dancers getting the crowd into the party spirit can all be found at Fantasy Disco. The party generally starts with a dance show and harmoniously turns into a dance party. There is a ton of security everywhere making sure that the guests enjoy themselves in a peaceful manner. Overall, if you’re up for a late night partying (the disco is open until 3:00am), it is a great place to enjoy some late night entertainment.
IFA Villas Bavaro Resort and Spa is a great pick for a family vacation. The grounds are being further developed and upgraded, to bring the resort from 3.5 star to a 4 star resort. I’d say that they will easily be able to accomplish that as soon as the renovation of the older buildings is complete. We thoroughly enjoyed our vacation and would return to this resort in the future.