Paradisus Palma Real Rating: 4.5 Pearls

The D.R.'s fanciest and most expensive all-inclusive, Palma Real has quality restaurants, a less-crowded beach, free horseback riding, personalized service, beautiful grounds, in-room Jacuzzis, and an enormous pool -- at nearly 38,000 square-feet, it's the "largest beachfront free-form" pool in the D.R. With a swim-up bar, built-in loungers, and ample poolside palapa umbrellas for shade, the pool is the hub of activity during the day

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Cool pools: The prettiest hotel pools in the D.R. (12 of 12)

 The D.R.'s fanciest and most expensive all-inclusive, Palma Real has quality restaurants, a less-crowded beach, free horseback riding, personalized service, beautiful grounds, in-room Jacuzzis, and an enormous pool -- at nearly 38,000 square-feet, it's the "largest beachfront free-form" pool in the D.R. With a swim-up bar, built-in loungers, and ample poolside palapa umbrellas for shade, the pool is the hub of activity during the day
Quality food, oceanfront bungalows, and free trapeze lessons at the Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach make the 600-room resort an excellent value. The Dominicus Beach pool is beautiful and clean with billowing white canopy beds sandwiched between it and the rocky shore. Because it is located away from the swimming part of the beach, the pool's atmosphere remains quiet and serene, undisturbed by the hotel's young European party crowd. Built in 2009, the 176-room Sanctuary Cap Cana looks like a small Spanish village perched on a cliff by the ocean. Its beautifully decorated pools, spa, golf course, and restaurants are all among the D.R.'s best. The Sanctuary has several pools on its miltitiered property, including a large, lagoon-shaped infinity pool that overlooks the beach. There is a swim-up bar, but most guests prefer to sunbathe on the spacious deck. Apart from the Sanctuary's main pool, there's a moat around the Fortress building, and yet another pool within its ramparts that has a beautiful view of the ocean from up high. Casa Colonial is one of the most stylish, most luxurious hotels in the Dominican Republic, with chic d├ęcor, private outdoor tubs, and four-post beds in the guest rooms. The 24-hour infinity pool gets great sunlight, and its rooftop location also provides gorgeous views of the beach below and the ocean to the north. At night, the pool -- with four Jacuzzis running along the edge -- is a romantic place to stargaze. Reopened in 2008, the 751-room Dreams La Romana has immaculate pools, beautiful rooms, an excellent kids' club, a great cocktail menu with name-brand liquor, and some of the D.R.'s best all-inclusive food -- from fine French cuisine to fish and chips. The hotel's zero-entry infinity pool is the most popular of the resort's three pools. The edge is super-shallow -- perfect for frolicking kids -- but the pool gradually deepens towards the center. For a massive, hyperindulgent all-inclusive mega-resort, the 506-room Iberostar Costa Dorada is the best in Puerto Plata -- great buffets, activities, entertainment, liquor, and service. Its pool is massive -- it winds into various nooks and crannies, through Grecian columns, and around a central garden. The quiet, adults-only (18+), 400-room Ambar is a self-sufficient enclave within an enormous, three-resort complex. With its own superior-quality restaurants, white-sand beach, sparkling gym, quality spa, and huge, romantic suites, it's an elegant alternative to wilder, kid-filled resorts. This hotel's serene pool comes with a broad deck with plenty of lounge chairs, but no cabanas or substantial shade. Opened in late 2008, the 600-room Majestic Elegance Punta Cana is newer, cleaner, and more modern than most all-inclusives. Its soft-sand beach, great beds, Jacuzzis in every room, and brand-name liquor make it a cut above most D.R. resorts, and there are lakes that are smaller than the gigantic lagoon that wraps around the property. This massive pool spans the main stretch of the hotel -- from the beach up to the lobby. Late-night noise and impromptu dirty dancing by the pool -- the 562-room IFA is a resort for partiers. Young kids perch on giant boulders or climb atop the fountain at the center of the pool at the resort, while adults enjoy drinks at the swim-up bar. Reggaeton beats alternate with sing-along Stevie Wonder classics (everyone joins in for the chorus). With an uncommonly fair price and a spectacular pool, this resort is ideal for travelers on a budget. Excellence Punta Cana is a relaxing, adults-only, 446-room resort with in-room Jacuzzis, four-poster beds, top-shelf martinis, and a great spa, plus more privacy and better food than at most Dominican resorts. A long, meandering pool at the Excellence snakes around the restaurants, the rooms, and the swim-up bar. This secluded 53-room getaway is an hour from the airport on a bumpy dirt road, but it feels a million miles from Punta Cana's mega-resorts. The oceanfront pool at the Agua Resort is subject to sea breezes -- perfect for cooling down on a hot day. The D.R.'s fanciest and most expensive all-inclusive, Palma Real has quality restaurants, a less-crowded beach, free horseback riding, personalized service, beautiful grounds, in-room Jacuzzis, and an enormous pool -- at nearly 38,000 square-feet, it's the "largest beachfront free-form" pool in the D.R. With a swim-up bar, built-in loungers, and ample poolside palapa umbrellas for shade, the pool is the hub of activity during the day
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