Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A laid-back resort with families and vacationing groups of adults languidly lounging around an enormous, confusing property.
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 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Guests at the Melia also seem a tad more genteel -- hard-boozing spring breakers have been replaced by families and groups of adults reclining peacefully on the resort's plentiful daybeds and divans.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.
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 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.shopping mall -- perhaps the biggest of its kind in
Broad, picturesque beach with powdery sand that's not crowded.
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.
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.
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.
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 housegives PG performances, but things can heat up at the . 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.
Rooms are large and family-friendly, plus there's a Flintstones-themed kid-friendly food.and
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 theis 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!
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.
Choose from three buffets, and nine beautifully decorated restaurants serving decent food.
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 , 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 El Guarapo or the French food at . Other options include La Pagoda (Thai), Le Gourmet (international), Capri (Caribbean seafood), American Grill, Hacienda (Mexican), and Gabi Club (for Royal Service guests only).and the Japanese best, but are less happy with the Dominican fare at
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.
The beautiful restaurants and outdoor spaces make this a picturesque place to tie the knot, and the package options are easy and plentiful.
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 , it's family-friendly, but it is also frequented by adults.