Monday, December 28, 2020

Punta Cana Dreams

 This post is by Becca Jennings.

Last month, I escaped the looming Wisconsin winter for a few days in the Dominican Republic, taking a look at the newest and best resorts in the Punta Cana region. The D.R., which occupies the eastern half of the island of Hispaniola, has been one of our clients' most popular winter getaway destinations for a long time. Based on what I saw, that's not going to change anytime soon.

Visitors to the Dominican fly in to Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ), and the resorts, with their fabulous beaches, are only minutes away. COVID protocols were much in evidence on my flight and at the airport, and I felt safe all the time. 

Forty minutes from the airport, my first destination awaited me, the resort which would be our base for four days of exploring the best of Punta Cana. Dreams Macao Beach is a great family property, with a kids core zone, waterparks for both adults and kids, a spa and nightly beach parties. You can even bring your small dog!

Hard Rock Punta Cana had its beach red-flagged as not good for swimming, but otherwise this is a fabulous property. It's huge, but if you don't feel like walking, you can rent a golf cart. The resort offers the largest casino in the Caribbean, nine restaurants, 13 pools (one adults-only pool offers a topless option for women), gym classes, a bowling bar and laser tag. A waterpark is coming in 2021. 

The Iberostar Bavaro Coral Level is a new concept, a hotel-within-a-hotel. Staying at the Coral Level gives guests extra amenities, better suites and permission to use all other Iberostar facilities, although that doesn't work both ways, so there's extra privacy. At Iberostar, kids are welcome and have their own waterpark. Both motorized and non-motorized sports are offered, and the property has a casino, six restaurants and four bars. And the beach is swimmable!

Royalton Punta Cana is another kid-friendly resort, with a children's program of activities, and families can enjoy the ultimate vacation experience at nearby Grand Memories Splash, which features one of the largest waterparks in the Caribbean. If you're going without the kids, you might consider the Hideaway at Royalton, an adults-only section with a private pool. 

The Royalton Bavaro is another family-friendly resort, with perhaps a quieter ambience. Water features include a wave rider and a "lazy river" with swim-up bar, a diamond pool club, and eleven bars and lounges. The property also has a mini-golf course. 

Riu Palace Bavaro offers four pools on site with a swim-up bar. One of the pools is "zero-entry," meaning that its sides are sloped so that entering the pool is like walking into a natural body of water. You may not want to use the pools very much here, as its beach is renowned as one of the best in the Caribbean. 


Riu Palace Punta Cana offers free entrance to the Riu Splash Water World waterpark. This is a great property for families, with many children's programs. For the adults, there are motorized and non-motorized water sports, a swim-up bar and access to the Riu Bavaro casino.

Zoetry Agua Punta Cana advertises itself as a family-friendly resort, but it's really for adults who are seeking an upscale, boutique experience. It's very quiet. Every room has its own butler, there are no check-in or -out times, and tea time is 5pm every day. Classes are offered in everything from cooking to yoga. If you book an oceanfront Junior Suite or higher accommodation, Zoetry will transfer you from and to the airport by helicopter!


Another great family property is Dreams Punta Cana. Teens have their own "zone," with a rock-climbing wall, basketball and tennis courts, batting cages, video games and ping-pong. The resort has the Caribbean's longest pool, stretching from the lobby to the beach. For dining, guests have six restaurants to choose from, and Mom and Dad can relax at any of eleven bars.

Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana has just re-opened after a $36-million renovation. This adults-only property has a casino and a night club. Preferred-club guests have bali-style beds included. It has 639 rooms, which seems like a lot but actually makes this one of the smaller properties in the area. There are eleven bars, a basketball court, four spas, a tennis court, outdoor theater, beach volleyball and watersports, including fishing. 

 Hotel Paradisus Palma Real is one of the area's newest properties, opening in 2017. It offers a kids club and waterpark, and golf cars are available not only to play the great courses, but to ride just a few minutes to one of the top ten beaches in the world. 

The Barcelo Bavaro Palace Hotel is an awesome family property, with a waterpark and wave pool plus a kids club. For adults, the resorts 16 bars include a Strikers sports bar that's open 24 hours. Diners can choose from five buffet restaurants and a dozen or so a la carte restaurants. The casino is open round the clock, there's a shopping center and mini-golf. Less than 11 miles from the airport, this resort is ideally located. 

And finally, we toured Secrets Cap Cana, a five-star, adults-only property. This place has nightly entertainment, a world-class spa, beach and pool volleyball, and classes in dance, Spanish and scuba diving. Its six bars include a swim-up bar. 

Whew! That's a lot to see in just four days, but it was well worth the effort. We only had time for one off-property excursion, organized by Marinarium. I got to swim with manta rays and sharks! The tour company also offers land excursions. 
As for resorts, Punta Cana has properties to suit just about any budget and whatever desires you might have for a resort vacation, with or without the kids. Most resorts we visited had pretty high standards for virus protocols, although a few did not offer things like temperature readings or hand sanitizers. But overall, you can't beat Punta Cana if you're looking for great beaches, great weather and just about everything else a Caribbean vacation can offer. Give me a call and we'll get your next trip ready to go!