Melia Caribe Tropical Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • 15-minute taxi from Punta Cana International Airport
  • Long, wide beach (among the D.R.'s best)
  • Large, contemporary rooms with flat-screen TVs and balconies
  • 2 fancy spas and a better fitness center than most resorts
  • Large in-house casino
  • Flintstone-themed kids' club
  • Across from upscale shops and dining at Palma Real village

Cons

  • Mosquito-filled swamps on-site
  • Slightly worn, less impressive pools than similarly priced resorts
  • Less varied buffets than even cheaper all-inclusives
  • Fee for Wi-Fi

Bottom Line

Despite a whopping 1,100 rooms, the Melia is a quiet, fashion-forward all-inclusive with stunning public spaces and ornately designed restaurants. Suites are even more stylish after 2012 renovations that introduced more modern decor. But the pools are lackluster and the buffets, while plentiful, aren't as varied as other chains like the Iberostar or the Occidental. With a Flintstone-themed kids' club, it's family-friendly, but it is also frequented by adults.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

A laid-back resort with families and vacationing groups of adults languidly lounging around an enormous, confusing property.

Hotel shuttle
Hotel shuttle

The Melia Caribe Tropical is part of a well-known Spanish-owned chain, like most of the Dominican resorts. But unlike the others, the Melia Caribe definitely has an extra gloss of luxury with its extremely fashion-focused restaurants and bars, as well as its rooms --renovated in 2011 and 2012 --. Walking through the spacious lobby with its golden murals and choice curios is immediately soothing -- almost like wandering into a billionaire's living room.

Guests at the Melia also seem a tad more genteel -- hard-boozing spring breakers have been replaced by families and groups of adults reclining peacefully on the resort's plentiful daybeds and divans. But with enough alcohol, guests dance pretty dirty on the dance floor.

At 1,100 rooms, the resort is much larger than daunting Bavaro Princess, though not as over-the-top ginormous as the Gran Bahia Principe. The resort is roughly divided into two parts by a swath of mangrove forest and swamp. This is a common feature of beachside resorts in the Dominican Republic, as the government forbids the cutting of mangroves and the draining of their ponds. Shuttle buses shaped like toy trains are constantly winding their way up and down these boulevards, ferrying guests to their rooms or out to the beach. Past the mangrove thicket, the paths start curling up on themselves and shooting out branches in seemingly random trajectories. The street signs and maps don't quite match up to the reality on the ground either, which makes things all the more confusing. Even more unsettling is the fact that the resort's pools and two spas are built to be practically mirror copies of each other.

 Location

A 15-minute taxi ride from the airport brings guests to the beautiful grounds, marred only by a mosquito-filled swamp.

Forgot a bathing suit? The Palma Real shopping mall -- perhaps the biggest of its kind in Punta Cana -- is right at the doorstep of the resort. With international brands like Puma, it's a draw for most tourists, though many complain that clothing is extraordinarily pricey.

 Beach

Broad, picturesque beach with powdery sand that's not crowded.

Wedding on the beach
Wedding on the beach

The Melia has a very long, broad white-sand beach (a little like Miami Beach), that has the fluffy, powdery quality of which dreams are made. It's a slower slope into the ocean than at some other Dominican resorts, so guests can see their feet through the clear water several paces in.

Unlike some other busy beaches in the D.R., the Melia's beach is relatively empty, with no thoroughfare of guests from neighboring resorts going back and forth across the sand. Everyone made sure to steer clear of the small, romantic wedding down the shore.

There's a water sports center on this beach with canoe and catamaran rentals.

 Rooms

Large rooms, including family-friendly accommodations, but bathrooms are small and rooms near the swamp have mosquitoes.

The Deluxe Junior Suite
The Deluxe Junior Suite

Like most all-inclusives, the Melia's rooms are grouped in squat buildings all around the property on side roads off the main boulevards. It's best to request a room far away as possible from the swamp as it's a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

The Melia has three types of rooms, the junior suites, family suites, and the master suites. The junior suites and the family suites are both 450 square feet, but the latter has two pull-out beds with "themed children's bedding" for the kids. The standard 512-square-foot master suite has all this plus a whirlpool tub, while the one-bedroom master suite has a separate living room and a full-size, two-door refrigerator.

All suites are in the process of being renovated. The hotel is about 90 percent finished with upgrades, which include new furniture and decor. The rooms now feature contemporary decor in earth tones, but have not sacrificed their interesting architectural elements -- namely the scalloped archway denoting the bedroom/sitting area division.

The junior suites are large and decorated in tans, greens, and off-white, with a few dashes of color brought in from various artworks lining the walls. The rooms are fairly similar to cheaper alternatives like the Gran Bahia Principe Ambar and the Occidental.

 Features

There's a casino, a mall, two spas, and two lagoon-shaped pools.

Impressive equipment at the Fitness Center
Impressive equipment at the Fitness Center

The resort has two pools at either end of the beach that are basically mirror images of each other. Both are lagoon-shaped and have swim-up bars and large patios with a thick cover of palm trees overhead. While they are in the standard lagoon shape that many Dominican resorts prefer, they do seem a little worse for wear -- with grayish plaster and colorless tiles.

The Melia has two spas, both of which are, once again, mirror images of each other. There are tents in the gardens for massages, several treatment rooms, men's and women's lockers, and a co-ed hot tub (flanked by pseudo-Grecian statues). Only one has a gym however. Fitness buffs will be happy to know that the gym is a fairly large room with perhaps the most extensive array of cardio and weight lifting equipment in Punta Cana.

Guests have access to the Cocotal Golf & Country Club, a five-minute drive from the hotel. The hotel offers a free shuttle to the club, which leaves every 45 minutes. Green fees are inexpensive for 18 holes, not including the cost of the golf cart.

The Melia has an actual money exchange counter where you can exchange pesos for dollars, and vice versa. Very few resorts offer this (most only covert dollars to pesos, and not the other way around). Pretty much every ATM only doles out money in pesos, yet cab drivers overwhelmingly prefer being paid in dollars. In other words, the Melia was a lifesaver.

The Melia also features a genuine casino with several game tables and a lounge to go with the slot machines, one of the few resorts in the D.R. to do this. The lounge houses several flat-screen TVs turned to sports channels. Definitely one of the major draws for guests, the casino is often full and buzzing well into the night.

For nightly entertainment, a house band gives PG performances, but things can heat up at the disco. The Melia's "Flintstone Band" performs at the theater adjacent to the casino. While the scene is strictly PG early in the evening, it can turn into a meat-market later in the night, with singles looking to get lucky when the band winds down and the DJ starts spinning some disco.

 Family

Rooms are large and family-friendly, plus there's a Flintstones-themed kids' club and kid-friendly food.

Flinstones-themed Kids' Club
Flinstones-themed Kids' Club

Definitely a good place for a family to stay, the Melia has large rooms with cribs (by request) and pull-out sofas. There's a limit of two children and two adults to a room, though, so larger families will have to book an additional space.

For some reason, the Melia has made the Flintstones the hotel's mascot. This means that the kids' club is Flintstones-themed with boulders and dinosaurs aplenty. The club was well-staffed with a bunch of friendly counselors, and the kids -- for the most part -- seemed to be having a great time posing for photographs with their parents and zooming down the slides.

When it comes to kid-friendly food, the buffet restaurants have burgers, mashed potatoes, and plenty of colorful desserts. But there aren't really any healthy alternatives for kids... or adults, for that matter!

 Cleanliness

Clean and orderly rooms, but mosquitoes spoil everything.

Maybe it was a result of being so close to the Mangrove forest (or should we say swamp?), but the room was filled with mosquitoes the second the air-conditioning was turned down from arctic to merely freezing. Dozens flooded in, and despite turning the AC all the way up, the bugs became a pretty permanent feature of the room. Be sure to request a room far from the mangroves.

 Food

Choose from three buffets, and nine beautifully decorated restaurants serving decent food.

Dessert station at Hacienda Buffet
Dessert station at Hacienda Buffet

The Melia has three buffet restaurants, two out by the beach and one around the corner from the lobby in the "Restaurant Market Place" -- a corner of the resort where you'll find the resort's ten à la carte restaurants and three of its bars.

The buffets served at all three locations are basically the same, and the options are a bit scarcer than at other, comparably priced resorts. Apart from an ample dessert table and breads selection, the buffet basically relied on burgers and pizza to take care of all the guests. Good for kids, but a bit dull by adult standards.

The à la carte restaurants all require a reservation in advance. Staff and guests alike said they liked the Italian La Gondola and the Japanese Hokkaido best, but are less happy with the Dominican fare at El Guarapo or the French food at Ma Maison. Other options include La Pagoda (Thai), Le Gourmet (international), Capri (Caribbean seafood), American Grill, Hacienda (Mexican), and Gabi Club (for Royal Service guests only).

 Drinks

Premiere liquor in beautifully designed bars

Top-shelf liquor
Top-shelf liquor

The Melia, as mentioned, has some stunningly designed bars that take up the hallways between restaurants at the Restaurant Market Place. During the day, peacocks nonchalantly hop up on chairs and fan their feathers out by the tables. By night, posh mood lighting and the promise of premier liquor like Grey Goose vodka pulls in the humans.

 Destination Weddings

The beautiful restaurants and outdoor spaces make this a picturesque place to tie the knot, and the package options are easy and plentiful.

A wedding party on the beach (in full view of other guests)
A wedding party on the beach (in full view of other guests)
  • Wedding Size: Up to 200 guests; no weddings on Sundays
  • Extra Fees: cost for a civil or Catholic ceremony; day passes for non-hotel guests are a very steep (about twice the cost of a day pass at comparable all-inclusive resorts).
  • Wedding Packages: The complimentary package (must book a suite for at least five nights to be eligible) covers a wedding for 12 people (fee for each additional person) and it includes a bouquet and boutonniere, recorded music during the ceremony, three bottles of sparkling wine, cake for 12 people, a dinner reservation for 12 (just a standard, a la carte dinner along with all of the other resort guests). Alternatively, the cheapest package for 24 guests includes a one-hour post-ceremony cocktail party with cold hors d'oeuvres, a dinner reservation for 24 (also, just a standard dinner). For a private, three-course dinner reception with five bottles of sparkling wine, and decorations for 24 people (extra for each additional guest), you'll have to upgrade to the next package and also pay extra for the open bar (per person, per hour).
  • Ceremony Locations: In the White Garden Gazebo for no extra charge, on the beach for a charge, or in the beach gazebo for highest charge (all locations are in full view of other resort guests)
  • Photographers and Videographers: Photo packages range from lowest (for 36 5-by-7s, three 8-by-10s, and one 12-by-18 panoramic) to highest (for 100 5-by-7s, five 8-by-10s, two 24-by-32 poster prints, one 12-by-18 panoramic, and one "picture video"); video packages range from lowest (recording from room to ceremony, at document signing) to highest (recording from room through reception)
  • Music Options: Options range from a musical trio (cost per hour) to a full orchestra (flat fee).
  • Food and Drinks: If you don't opt for a standard package: Hors d'oeuvres range in price per person; buffet dinners are a flat fee per person with two hours of open bar; plated dinners are more per person with two hours of open bar; extra hours of open bar range from in price (depending on liquor selection).
  • Cakes: Included in the wedding packages; decoration upgrades range in cost, and extra sauces (amaretto, strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, and coffee) are extra as well
  • Spa Treatments: The spa offers bridal hair and makeup, just hair for less, and a mani/pedi package.
  • Freebies: The standard wedding package is free for 12 people, so long as you book a suite for more than five nights. Otherwise, the only freebie is a 10-percent discount on spa treatments for the bride and groom.
  • Honeymoon Suite: Most newlyweds stay in a Honeymoon Deluxe Junior Suite or a Royal Service Master Suite (both have a private balcony and a Jacuzzi).
  • Airport Transportation: 15-minute taxi from Punta Cana International Airport; the resort does not provide transportation

 Bottom Line

Despite a whopping 1,100 rooms, the Melia is a quiet, fashion-forward all-inclusive with stunning public spaces and ornately designed restaurants. Suites are even more stylish after 2012 renovations that introduced more modern decor. But the pools are lackluster and the buffets, while plentiful, aren't as varied as other chains like the Iberostar or the Occidental. With a Flintstone-themed kids' club, it's family-friendly, but it is also frequented by adults.

Things You Should Know About Melia Caribe Tropical

Address

  • Playa De Bavaro, Punta Cana

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Melia Caribe
  • Melia Caribe Punta Cana
  • Melia Caribe Tropical Punta Cana
  • Melia Hotel Punta Cana
  • Melia Punta Cana
  • Melia Tropical
  • Melia Tropical Punta Cana
  • Punta Cana Melia Caribe Tropical
  • Sol Melia Punta Cana

Room Types

  • Deluxe Junior Suite
  • Family Deluxe Junior Suite
  • Romance Suite
  • Royal Service Deluxe Junior Suite
  • Royal Service Deluxe Master Suite
  • Royal Service Deluxe One Bedroom Master Suite

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 1100
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Internet Access: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Kids Club: Yes
Jacuzzi (in room): Some
Casino: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Address: Playa De Bavaro, Punta Cana
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