We've shown you some of our favorite boutique hotels in Miami, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington D.C. And now, we're letting you in on our picks for the Dominican Republic! These hotels in the D.R. are beautifully decorated and offer top-notch, personalized service -- a far cry from their busy, all-inclusive, megaresort neighbors. Check out more pictures of the hotels that made the cut after the jump!
Designed by Oscar de la Renta, the 15-room Tortuga Bay hotel offers amazing service (including preferential treatment at Punta Cana Airport), an on-site nature reserve, several superb restaurants, and a world-class golf course. The standard room at Tortuga is a one-bedroom, second-floor villa. Upgrades get you a Jacuzzi, then an additional bedroom all the way up to a four-bedroom villa. First-floor villas have terraces while second-floor villas have balconies (and a less likely chance of bugs in the room). Each suite has a balcony or terrace, all of which have ocean views.
Tortuga's beach has calm, crystal-clear water and soft white sand. There are plenty of lounge chairs and the attentive wait staff regularly check in with guests on the beach. A few hundred meters north -- in a more secluded section of the beach -- palm trees offer shade and other guests are rare.
Sivory Punta Cana
The quiet, 55-room Sivory lures mostly couples to its secluded location. Service is impressive, as is the natural setting, and everything -- from the comfortable rooms to the spa to the reflecting pool attached to the lobby -- is designed to promote relaxation. Sivory offers some of the best service in the Domincan Republic. Guests are greeted with a champagne flute and a cool, vanilla-scented towel on a silver platter. Management walks each guest to his or her room, pointing out features of first the hotel and then the room. Staff members seem to know every guest by both name and room number, and managers go out of their way to honor special requests. Additionally, the concierge and front desk staff are available 24 hours a day.
The spa consists of an open-air room with a hot tub and a plunge pool. Off the main room, there's a steam sauna and a dry sauna. There are also multiple massage rooms and a beauty salon with a fitness center attached. Use of the fitness center, Jacuzzi, saunas, locker rooms, thermal pool, and showers is free.
This secluded 53-room getaway is an hour from the airport, but it feels a million miles from Punta Cana's mega-resorts. A top-notch spa and two high-quality restaurants are great, and it's so serene, the waves pounding on the shore and water trickling through the serpentine pool are the only sounds you'll hear. And starting at 775 square feet, Agua's chicly decorated suites are huge. Dark wood floors and furniture and white Frette linens complement the front door, made of heavy blond wood, and the washed white stone exterior.
The room terraces are large enough for a table and two beautifully carved wooden chairs as well as a linen loveseat. In most suites, the terrace also has direct access to the narrow serpentine pool that winds its way through half of the property.
Guests at Natura Cabanas enjoy delicious, fresh food, a clean, crowd-less private beach, daily yoga and Pilates classes, and a fabulous spa. With no crowds, plenty of chairs, clear water, and soft sand, Natura's beach is the best beach on the north coast. Natura Cabanas consists of just 11 stone-walled, thatched-roof bungalows. All are eco-sensitive, meaning there is no AC, light bulbs are energy efficient, and guests must manually activate (and then shut off) hot water when showering. Rooms also have no televisions and no phones.
Service at Natura Cabanas is excellent -- the warm, low-key owner even offers personal tours of the property. At each meal, the service is warm and friendly, but extremely slow. Impatient eaters should be advised to make other arrangements.
All rooms come with a beautiful stone bathroom. The round shower-tubs have no curtains, but are large enough to simulate the rush of taking an outdoor shower, especially with their smooth stone floors and slatted windows.
Casa Colonial is one of the most stylish, most luxurious hotels in the Dominican Republic -- but it's surrounded by 14 crowded, all-inclusive mega-resorts in the gated Playa Dorada complex. Rooms are gorgeous -- but at the beach, the rooftop pool, and on the balconies, guests suffer through their neighbors' poolside megaphones and karaoke nights. The service is superb -- warm, yet professional. Bellhops clad in crisp white uniforms and safari hats usher guests into the modern two-story lobby and the check-in area, which is just an ornate concierge's desk. The main building also houses a large bar and the gourmet restaurant Lucia.
The Caribbean-chic decor in the hotel's 50 rooms includes a sisal rug, a plush white linen loveseat and wingback chair, modern artwork, and a mahogany four-post bed topped with Frette sateen linens.