A walk or shuttle ride is required to get to other areas of the resort
Not a lot of dining options directly on-site
A charge for in-room Wi-Fi
This 570-room property is part of the Bahia Principe brand's Don Pablo Collection and is one of the smaller, more luxurious options in the Bahia Principe resort complex. With an airy, relaxed scene and pretty surroundings, this seaside locale seems to attract an even mix of families and couples. Guests can choose to get their Vitamin D fix at two pools or the adjacent beach (best to snag a spot early). Though dining options on-site are limited, guests get unlimited access to several restaurant, bar and nightlife areas -- as well as all the family-friendly amenities -- of the entire resort complex by walking or using the shuttle.
A newer and more luxurious area of Bahia Principe complex for families and couples
Arrival through the gates and long driveways of the Bahia Principe resort complex, which has five separate properties and not many English speakers, can be a chaotic and confusing experience. But once guests finally get to the elegant, colonial-style lobby of Esmeralda, relaxation starts to set in. From here, everything -- the beach, two pools, buffets, kids' playground, and spa -- are within easy walking distance of one another.
Both couples and families are welcome at the resort and there seems to be an even mix of both. The beach has a fun scene with drink service and access to unlimited non-motorized water sports, even if it is a bit crowded (people tend to reserve the areas closest to the water early in the morning). The two pools give some choice between kid-friendly areas (the shallow kiddy pool) and more adult-oriented spots (the swim-up bar and adult-only tranquility pool).
During the day, it can be easy to forget that the resort is attached to a much larger enterprise, but for nightlife, this will come in handy. Once the sun has set, guests tend to begin the evening with cocktails in the lobby, and then head to other areas of the resort for more dining and entertainment variety. The lobby bar closes just before midnight, but partygoers can hit up the complex's disco and 24-hour bar, which is thankfully far from the peaceful setting here at Esmeralda. Expect a bit of a walk, but shuttle service is available from the lobby.
One of two resorts at Bahia Principe complex that is situated directly on the beach
The Bahia Principe complex (containing five separate resorts) is approximately 35 minutes from Punta Cana International Airport. Two of the resorts, including this one, are directly situated on an area of Arena Gordon Beach, with a nice stretch of sand and ideal swimming conditions for all ages. As is the case with all of Punta Cana's resorts, there's not much to do outside of the gates, so most guests are content to stay within the grounds and relax.
Cheerful, colonial-style furnishings and modern bathrooms
Esmeralda has 570 rooms situated in cheerful yellow and white colonial-style buildings surrounding the pool and manicured gardens (some have ocean views). There is only one room type: the Deluxe Junior Suite, with either two full beds or one king bed. All beds have canopies with white fabric, and pillow menus are available upon request. Interior decor matches the exteriors -- rooms have yellow or coral accent walls, white wicker furniture, and white linens, which makes them feel fresher than some of the other options around the resort.
In-room amenities include a terrace or balcony, sofa bed (useful for families), flat-screen TVs, coffeemakers, minibars (with beer, soda and small liquor bottles), and 24-hour room service. Spacious bathrooms have double vanity sinks, a separate jetted tub and shower, and toiletries that include shave and vanity kits. The use of the safe is free, but there's a charge for Wi-Fi.
Unlimited access to a decent range of restaurants and bars
Guests at this luxury section of Bahia Principe complex have access to all the amenities across the complex (except for those at the other Don Pablo section, the Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar). These include a range of a la carte restaurants (Tex Mex, Mediterranean, Italian, Spanish, seafood, and Japanese), bars, and nightlife options (such as the disco and 24-hour snack bar, where guests can keep the party going after the lobby bar closes). On-site food options include a main buffet with specialty themed nights, and the Snack Arecife, which offers and extensive food spread in an open-air setting closer to the beach.
Guests choose this beach location for a reason, as the turquoise waters have ideal waves for swimming. The property offers unlimited use of non-motorized water sports such as boogie boards, snorkel gear, and kayaks. Getting beach chairs isn't usually a problem, but the ones closest to the water tend to get snagged early in the morning. The two pools provide areas for kids and adults; at the adults-only tranquility pool couples read books and enjoy drinks from a smaller pool bar (the swim-up bar at the main pool gets a bit more rowdy).