Only 170 rooms on a 26-square-mile property -- guests feel like they have the place to themselves. Golf carts shuttle well-heeled guests around the resort, where they relax and lounge.
The 170-room Punta Cana Hotel is in the center of Punta Cana Resort & Club, a gated, 26-square-mile property that includes Oscar de la Renta-designed Tortuga Bay, Villa Estate rental homes, and residential communities. The property also features La Cana golf course, and two newer courses plus the Six Senses spa, a full-service marina, and a huge, private beach, as well as its own Ecological Preserve. The resort even funds its own Ecological preservation programs, Center for Sustainability and Biodiversity, among other Ecological programs. Nightlife is virtually nonexistent -- guests come for quiet luxury.
White columns, rambling vines, and a shallow pool at the hotel entrance lend to subdued elegance. The peaceful lobby acts as a reservoir for guests using the free Wi-Fi or waiting for resort shuttles (golf carts) to swing them around to the clubhouse or marina. The understated lobby bar fills a slow rotation of guests with rum punch and mojitos.
The quiet, reserved guests keep mostly to themselves as they navigate between breakfast, beach, golf course, and room, usually on one of the resort's golf cart shuttles. About the only disturbance you might find comes from teenage guests careening around pathways in their rented golf carts. Small clusters of guests hang out all over the resort, but the resort is never crowded -- even the breakfast buffet is calm and orderly (not something you'd find at the nearby all-inclusive resorts).
The resort is located inside the gated, 26-square-mile Punta Cana Resort & Club property, which houses dozens of amenities, two hotels, private homes, and rental villas. The resort will arrange transportation to and from the airport, about a 7 minute drive.
Outside the complex, finding things to do in the area is difficult. The resort is at least a 30-minute taxi ride from towns like Friusa and Bavaro, where there are a limited number of restaurants and local nightclubs.
The hotel's huge beach enjoys shallow, calm water with only negligible seaweed and fine, smooth white sand. There are few guests, so finding quiet is easy.
Located on the southern stretch of Punta Cana's coast, the water is generally calmer, clearer, and shallower than the beaches to the north, along Bavaro. Small amounts of seaweed wash up from the water, but it isn't seriously offensive, and the resort keeps the beach very clean. A large portion of this shallow beach is ideal for swimming, and playing in the water with young children.
The spacious rooms were refreshed with new paint, bedding, and flat-screen TVs in 2009; several feature beachfront locations.
Four types of units are available: deluxe rooms, which are located along the beach and have a single room; deluxe suites, one- and two-story suites that feature separate lounge and sleep areas; Beach Casitas, two- or three-bedroom houses along the beach, and Marina Apartments, one-bedroom units that feature living rooms, kitchens, dinettes, private bathrooms with seperate shower and tub, daily housekeeping, a large pool, and Marina access. Furnishings and décor are different in all units, but all were refurbished in 2009 with new bedding, new paint, flat-screen TVs and stylish decor. When Oyster visited prior to the refurbishment, the rooms seemed almost austere, so the hotel's worked to make them more modern is appreciated. There are no mini-bars, and no music or DVD player, but if you can get a good price you'll find little to complain about.
Deluxe suites can come with two stories, separated by a walled staircase. The lower level includes a large living room with its own full bathroom, sitting area, separate table and chairs, and a television. It also has sliding doors to its own small ground-level patio. Families can easily fit an extra, roll-away bed into this space, but the couch isn't fold-out.
Upstairs, the large bedroom comes with a comfortable, king-size bed with clean white linens. The bedroom is simply furnished with a small dresser and its own television. There's also a second full bathroom, which is almost identical to the one on the lower level. It also has its own balcony with a table and set of chairs.
Amenities are plentiful at the Puntacana Hotel. Guests have access to two pools on the resort. Only the main pool, however, is conveniently located near guest-rooms and other hotel facilities. It has a bar and drinks service, and several wicker lounge chairs placed around the pool. A decorative fountain next to the stairways leading to the pool adds to the atmosphere. The tennis pool is, obviously, near the tennis courts and, though beautiful, does not generate that much traffic, probably due to the inconvenient location relative to rooms and other hotel facilities.
A small fitness center is located near the lobby and pool. Clean and pleasant, the air-conditioning is kept at comfortable temperature. The fitness center features a handful of reasonably clean, functional machines and weights. It's nothing fancy, though: There aren't attendants there or classes of any sort.
A large tennis center has several courts and instructors available for lessons. There's even a store that sells equipment and has a tennis racket stringer on-site for repairs.
The resort has it's own small ranch, which includes a petting zoo, and organic fruit and vegetable gardens, both of which are free for guests to explore. Horseback riding for guests is run out of stables here.
There's an on-site marina on the west end of the beach, which is one of the few available to a resort in the D.R. (Casa de Campo being one of the others). The large boats and yachts here are eye candy for sailing and boat aficionados. A small convenience store sells souvenirs, food, and medicine cabinet essentials. The photo center is also located in the same space.
The Ecological Reserve features 15 natural spring water lagoons.
Free Wi-Fi is available in the lobby and pool area, but Internet is not available in rooms.
Three oceanside golf courses conceived by world-class designers P.B. Dye and Tom Fazio.
The 18-hole La Cana golf course at the Punta Cana Estates property, which surrounds Tortuga, was designed by P.B. Dye. Fourteen of the 18 holes run along the ocean and the course was written up in Golf Digest. Greens Fees for nine holes and for 18 are reasonable. There are also reduced afternoon rates for players who tee up after 2:30 p.m.
The Corales course designed by Tom Fazio features six oceanfront holes and beautiful canyon backdrops with exclusive rates for hotel guests.
The Hacienda, also designed by Pete Dye opened in early 2012 and is the beautiful centerpiece of a housing community on the property.
A full-service Six Senses is located in the Club House. The spa and development company has several luxury resorts and spas throughout the world. This is one of the D.R.'s best luxury spas. It focuses on natural products, administering treatments with its own line as well as Sodashi skin care from Australia. Inside, it features several large, clean, and modern facilities, including a sauna, steam room, baths, and showers. There is also a separate outdoor section of the spa, complete with Jacuzzis, showers, and massage/treatment cabanas that overlook the ocean. Guests can also relax in the 15 natural spring water lagoons in the Ecological Reserve on-site.
Family-oriented amenities aren't the sell at this hotel -- save the petting zoo. But the staff is accommodating, and suites and Beach Casitas are big enough to fit families comfortably.
The quiet, reserved nature of the resort means that children may not meet a lot of playmates at the pool every day. It also means they won't intermingle with drunken spring breakers. For hands-on parents or independent kids, the Hotel Punta Cana is a great pick.
Cribs are available free of charge. Roll-away beds are also available, but in the rooms and suites they cost extra per night. In the Beach Casitas, they're free.
There is no kids' club or full schedule of children's activities, nor is there a lifeguard on duty at the beach or pools, but childcare is available. With parent supervision, though, there are tons of kid-friendly activities on the property, like the ecological preserve and its lagoon pools, the petting zoo, golf, horseback riding, or just hanging on the beautiful beach.
The excellent breakfast buffet is free. Other meals are paid for à la carte at the eight restaurants. They close early, so lack of room service is annoying.
The resort has eight restaurants, which are open to all guests within the complex. The buffet breakfast served in La Cana is included in the cost per night, but other meals are charged to the room. Meals at most restaurants can be expensive. No room service is available, and, given the limited late-night dining options, this is especially annoying.
The bars and restaurants all serve a good selection of top-shelf liquor, like the notable selection of Glenmorangie single malt Scotch at La Yola.
La Cana's free breakfast buffet is next to the pool and its large, open dining room faces the beach. The food selection is outstanding and service is top-notch. Breakfast features a number of traditional Dominican dishes -- something that's strangely hard to find among Dominican resorts -- in addition to American and continental choices.
Franco's Trattoria serves pizza throughout the day. Its location next to the pool makes it a popular place for lunch and afternoon snacks.
La Yola, next to the marina at the far west end of the beach, offers a Mediterranean and seafood-based lunch and dinner menu. The dining room is perched over the water and has a glass floor viewing portal over the water. The nautical décor, complete with rusty anchors and antique diving gear, gives the dining area a lot of character.
"Indigenous Eyes" is a 1,500 acre on-site ecological preserve. Along it, flat trails and pathways lead to 12 clear lagoons, all of which are open for swimming. It's possible to walk all the way through the preserve to the northernmost edge of the resort, but good walking shoes are recommended. The forest is full of large spiders, lizards, and other native Dominican fauna. It is owned by Puntacana Ecological Foundation as part of its commitment to sustainable tourism. It is one of the only areas of coastal forest habitat in Punta Cana.
A beautiful setting and amazing service at fair prices, considering that the food is far better here than it is at the all-inclusive resorts
Unlike at the all-inclusive resorts, most wedding details are up to you -- a great advantage, if you want a personal touch and don't mind a little extra legwork.
Wedding Size: Up to 500 guests, depending on location
Extra Fees: ceremony fee (including certificate preparation); Location fees for both the ceremony and the reception range in price.
Reception Locations: The Club House (site fee, up to 500 people), La Yola restaurant (site fee, up to 100 people), the Playa Blanca Restaurant (site fee, up to 100 people), La Cana restaurant (site fee, up to 100 people)
Photographers and Videographers: The hotel can help you find and book an outside vendor at no extra fee; the hotel does not staff its own photographer or videographer.
Music Options: The hotel will help you book a musician at no extra fee.
Food and Drinks: Plated, sit-down dinners range in cost, and buffets range a bit lower -- less than what food costs at some of the all-inclusives. Kids', vegetarian, kosher, or gluten-free menus available upon request. An open bar costs range for national or premium liquor per person, per hour.
Cakes: The hotel does not offer its own cakes, but they can help guests make arrangements with a preferred bakery in the area.
Spa Treatments: The Six Senses Spa, one of the best spas in the D.R., has a full menu of services and beauty treatments.
Honeymoon Suite: Newlyweds usually stay in the Deluxe Suite, which has a private balcony. Also consider escaping to the exceptionally luxurious Tortuga Bay hotel, a 15-room boutique hotel designed by Oscar de le Renta that lies inside the same Punta Cana Club development as the Punta Cana Hotel.
Airport Transportation: A taxi from Punta Cana Airport costs about $35, round trip.