In Bayahibe, about 50 minutes from Punta Cana airport
Not much to see or do outside of the resort
The 756-room Dreams La Romana is an upscale all-inclusive in Bayahibe, a small town about 50 minutes from Punta Cana airport. Though there isn’t much to see or do in the area, Dreams is situated on the island’s Caribbean side, which means the ocean water is clearer and calmer than that in Punta Cana, and the sunsets are unbeatable. The hotel itself is spread across a large property, and has four pools, a great beach, and an awesome array of restaurants and bars. Food and drinks here are noticeably better than at most all-inclusives, and reservations are not required for a la carte dining. There are different sections of the hotel — one for families, one for adults-only, and one for activities — allowing Dreams to appeal to all types of travelers. Those who would prefer to be directly in Punta Cana should check out sister property, Dreams Punta Cana Resort and Spa, which has similar rooms, rates, and amenities.
A laid-back all-inclusive that appeals to all kinds of travelers
Ever see those cheesy commercials for all-inclusive Caribbean getaways? The ones where couples walk hand-in-hand on the beach, where kids build castles in the sand, and where the food looks downright scrumptious? As corny as it’s sounds, that’s kind of how we felt at Dreams La Romana, a resort that oozes laid-back Caribbean goodness. What makes Dreams so great is that it lacks that overcrowded, chaotic feel that plagues so many all-inclusives in Punta Cana. Instead, the entire resort feels quiet and laid-back, even at full capacity.
The resort’s tranquil nature is immediately apparent upon arrival, when guests are greeted by a lobby that lacks long check-in lines or velvet rope barriers. With dark wood vaulted ceilings, bright red furniture, and black abstract sculptures, the lobby doesn’t really give off much of a Caribbean vibe, but the fan palm trees and straw fedora-clad porters certainly give the entrance a tropical feel.
Despite its misleading name, Dreams La Romana isn’t actually located in La Romana, it’s in Bayahibe — a small town near La Romana. Bayahibe is about a 50-minute drive from the airport in Punta Cana, or about a 20-minute drive from the airport in La Romana. Located on the Dominican Republic’s southern, Caribbean coast, Bayahibe has calmer, clearer waters than Punta Cana or Puerto Plata, which are located on the island’s northern, Atlantic coast. This means Dreams’ beach isn’t plagued by seaweed like its northern neighbors. The only problem with Bayahibe’s fairly secluded location is that there isn’t much to do outside of the resort —unlike Punta Cana, which is built up with lots of shops, restaurants, and bars.
Room decor at Dreams La Romana can be best described as modern traditional. Rooms aren’t contemporary, nor are they dated, but instead have a simple, uncluttered look that feels timeless. Dark wood furniture is complemented by shades of blue and chocolate brown. Beds have small canopies draped over their headboards, every size sham imaginable, and simple white bedding. Nightstands are equipped with iHomes, notepads, and local guide magazines. Other in-room amenities include flat-screen TVs, coffeemakers, and mini-fridges stocked with beer, water, and soda (all of which are free). Bathrooms have equally tasteful decor, with mosaic tile walk-in showers and marble vanities. One minor gripe? Preferred Family Rooms (supposedly designed with families in mind) don’t have tubs, double sinks, or sofa beds, all of which would be helpful for those traveling with children. All rooms have large balconies or patios that overlook hotel grounds. Only some have ocean views.
The Preferred Club is Dreams’ version of a concierge level. The Preferred Club has two separate sections, one for families and one for adults. Occupying the two furthest wings of the property, both Preferred Clubs have their own pool and exclusive lounge area. Each lounge has an outdoor patio, communal computers and iPads, a few TVs, and a continental breakfast bar. Preferred Club rooms aren’t much different than their standard counterparts, except that they have a few more toiletries, upgraded minibars, and two bathrobes. Preferred guests also get access to two exclusive pools, as well as to Olio Restaurant during breakfast and lunch.
If we’re really going to get picky here (we take this investigative job seriously), Dreams’ stock hotel channel — you know the one that automatically plays when you turn on the TV? — is downright creepy, with strange non-beach related images and background music that seems to have been plucked from a horror movie. Minor disturbance, but we had to point it out.
The beach at Dreams has soft white sand and clear blue water. Because of the water’s pool-like calmness, the hotel can offer fun ocean activities such as a water trampoline and ocean zumba classes. The beach has tons of lounge chairs, a volleyball court, and its very own fresh pineapple stand. There’s also a wooden dock that extends out into the water that allows guests to access the giant coral reef that lines one side of the property. Preferred Club guests have access to a private beach area. Besides the large palapa umbrellas and nicer lounge chairs, it’s really not much different than the regular beach.
There are 11 dining options and nine bars spread across the Dreams property. For an all-inclusive, food at Dreams is surprisingly good, and the hotel’s restaurants offer varied menus, so nothing seems too repetitive. A la carte restaurants do not require reservations and usually don’t have long wait times for dinner. Options range from Japanese to French to Dominican to Italian. There are also two large buffets, and even a coffee shop which serves several different types of coffee (including iced, a rare island commodity) and pastries. The adult-only Mediterranean restaurant, Olio, might be the best eatery on-site (any adults can go for dinner, but only Preferred Club guests can go for breakfast and lunch). Bars across the property serve name-brand liquor and an array of local and international beers — a perk that’s hard to find at most all-inclusives.
Great pools, a small underwhelming casino, and a beautiful spa
Dreams La Romana has four pools in four distinct areas of the property. The main pool is a massive amoeba-shaped structure with a volleyball net, a hot tub, and an inflatable iceberg for kids (or adults) to climb on. This pool area constantly has something going on — whether it’s kids’ relay races and karaoke competitions during the day, or themed parties at night. The main pool is the ideal spot for guests seeking an active aquatic experience. The infinity pool is close to the beach and much quieter than the main pool. Although it’s not restricted to adults, you’ll hardly ever find kids here. Like its name suggests, the infinity pool has an infinity edge that overlooks the beach. It also has a swim-up bar, and large shallow ledges where guests can pull lounge chairs into the water. Both the main pool and the infinity pool are open to all guests. Dreams’ two other pools are reserved for Preferred Club guests. The Preferred Club family pool has a freeform shape and an infinity edge. It’s surrounded by lounge chairs, white umbrellas, and a few palapa style huts. The Preferred Club adult-only pool has dark blue mosaic tiling and a large swim-up bar. There are lots of covered day beds and a neat chrome water feature.
Because of its beautiful grounds and tranquil atmosphere, Dreams is a popular wedding destination — so popular that the hotel hosts at least one ceremony every day of the year. The hotel has multiple, private wedding venues, so parties can rest assured that there won’t be any uninvited gawkers at the ceremony or reception. Dreams has three different wedding packages, and an on-site wedding coordinator. It’s also a popular honeymoon destination, and there are several honeymoon deals available throughout the year.
Other on-site amenities include a small casino, spa, and fitness center. The casino isn’t much to brag about — it’s rarely crowded and only has a few tables and slot machines. The beautiful spa has outdoor treatment rooms, private pools set amid tropical gardens, and a special bridal suite. The fitness center, which is adjacent to the spa, has lots of modern equipment, but feels a bit small and cramped. Wi-Fi and parking are free for all guests.