The Dominican Republic is popular with friends, family and newlyweds looking for an all-inclusive break in the Caribbean sun. The capital, Santo Domingo, is a city of 2.5m with great museums, ballet and opera and showcases the country’s mix of European, African and native Taíno heritage. But it’s the resorts of Punta Cana to the east which draw many visitors looking for a beach break with the option of water sports, casinos and treks or buggy rides through the rainforest. Including a resort on its own private island, here are the best the Dominican Republic has to offer.
The Coconut Coast of eastern Dominican Republic lives up to its moniker with its many palm-lined beaches, on one of which you’ll find the Le Sivory by PortBlue Boutique. It’s a lively part of the country when it comes to nightlife but you’re in a secluded oceanfront setting here. There are 55 rooms, all terraced or with a patio, and some have private pools. You’re sure of a peaceful, crowd-free vacation, at a safe remove from Punta Cana town, about 45 minutes south by car. You may not need to make the trip given Le Sivory has a shorefront restaurant, pool and spa.
Royalton Bavaro is a high-end treat from the moment you set foot on the polished marble lobby floor. With 730 rooms in a sprawling layout it never feels overcrowded and the location in Bavaro, a collection of resorts on the east coast, means you’ve access to both sandy shores and nightlife. With a full entertainment program, it’s a popular spot for families, while couples may want to splash out on the Diamond Club, with such extras as a private pool, butler service and exclusive lounge beach areas. Everyone is free to use the 12,000ft (3,658m) lazy river pool.
Hipsters love this adults-only all-inclusive in Punta Cana, whose espresso martini vibe contrasts with the spring break feel of other resorts. All 492 suites have double jetted tubs overlooking private balconies and some have swim-up pools or private rooftop pools with modern furnishings. You’ll love the complimentary drinks service at the pools, beach loungers and in the nightclub. You might consider paying for the Excellence Club, which will get you access to a private lounge and restaurant, an exclusive area on the beach and daily in-room treats.
At Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana, you’re surrounded by the beach, a lagoon, a smattering of other hotels and little else. It’s great for parents as the kids’ club keeps the little ones occupied while you work on your tans. Raise your glasses to perks such as premium spirits, beer, soft drinks and water in the mini bar, plus snacks, plush robes and little extras including incense, sunscreen, toothbrushes and toothpaste. There are nighttime shows geared towards families, a casino and open-air classic films shown on the beach.
Try to visualize your dream resort on a private island and it might look something like this, 15 minutes by boat from Samaná Peninsula in the north west of the island. You don’t come for the party scene because the bars shut at midnight, though you can head to the outdoor disco at Bacardi Beach to dance under the stars. What reigns here is calm and luxury, with opulent suites, world-renowned chefs, an extensive cocktail menu and a professional cigar-maker to roll you a postprandial smoke.
A refurbishment in 2017 has turned this all-inclusive into two resorts, one side family-friendly and the other, the Colonial Club, adults-only. Uniting them is an open-air lobby with a glass elevator descending to a bar, tropical gardens and a large pool. If you’re in the adult category, make sure you flash that wristband so you can use the private pool and beach areas where kids are not allowed. With its beautiful beachfront location, Majestic Colonial Punta Cana is a hotspot for weddings, so expect a happy couple or two to become new best friends with you at the piano or swim-up bar.
It’s easy to find some privacy in the extensive grounds and Caribbean-cool gardens of Paradisus Punta Cana Resort. You’ll need a day or two to orient yourself as there are nearly 700 rooms, including 514 luxury suites, in the two-story bungalow-style buildings. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of signs and golf buggies to help you get around and bikes too, to offset the calories you’ll consume at the swim-up bar, or during cooking classes and wine-tastings, while your youngsters enjoy the kids’ club if you’ve come as a family.
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