7-minute drive from Punta Cana International Airport
No nightlife scene
Only expensive, on-site cuisine available
Ground floor rooms might get ants (common in the D.R.)
Designed by Oscar de la Renta, the 30-room Tortuga Bay hotel offers amazing service (including preferential treatment at Punta Cana Airport), an on-site nature reserve, several superb restaurants, and three world-class golf courses. You can find a comparable room and setting at the Sivory resort at a more down-to-earth price, but its beach isn't nearly as nice.
What's it like to sleep in fashion icon Oscar de la Renta's bedroom? Take a cocktail in his living room? Or sun on his patio? Staying at Tortuga Bay is the closest most people will get to knowing what it's really like since De la Renta designed the entire property. If the resort is any indication, the answer is that it's posh, yet profoundly relaxing.
Of course, since Tortuga Bay is a hotel, unlike De La Renta's house just down the road, all this luxury comes at a price -- a high price. Those willing to fork over a very pretty penny for the chance to stay at this luxe 30-room resort will be treated to amazing views, beautiful rooms, and perhaps the best service found anywhere on the island of Hispaniola.
Tortuga Bay is the crown jewel in the larger Puntacana Resort & Club development, which also includes the Puntacana Hotel. The swank development is a far cry from Puerto Plata or other hotels in nearby Punta Cana. It's common to see new Mercedes and Hummers rolling down the lush lanes or parked in front of the golf club. Guests can walk the small property in a matter of minutes, but each room also comes with its own golf cart, so you can drive to the pool in just a few seconds or take advantage of the eco-park, the golf course, or miles of secluded beach.
Located about 7 mintues by car from Punta Cana International Airport (with VIP transfer service), tucked in an upscale housing development.
Unlike other Dominican resorts, Tortuga offers VIP transfer services from the airport -- much more than just a shuttle drop-off. Prior to departure, guests get VIP access through the Punta Cana airport, which includes priority access during ticketing, private (read: much faster) security clearance, and priority placement in customs. The whole process wraps up in a VIP lounge, where guests wait until their plane boards. A Tortuga agent then accompanies guests to the front of the line to board the plane. Total time from resort to VIP waiting room is about 30 minutes -- about half what it would normally take. From there, it is a 7 minute drive to the resort, which is tucked into an upscale housing development in a quiet area known for natural beauty, not its night life.
There are plenty of lounge chairs and the attentive wait staff regularly check in with guests on the beach. For more seclusion, simply walk (or take a golf cart) a few hundred meters north, where palm trees offer shade and other guests are rare.
Though there have been some complaints about rocky (and thus slippery) beaches, finding a sandy bottom is simple and makes it possible to go for a very nice dip. Compared to the Sivory or Agua on the southern tip of Punta Cana, the beach at Tortuga is far more inviting.
The standard room at Tortuga is a one-bedroom, second-floor villa. Upgrades get you a Jacuzzi and additional bedrooms, all the way up to a four-bedroom villa. All of the rooms have the same tasteful and luxurious design, as well as a slew of impressive amenities. The major difference is between the first floor and the second: first-floor villas have terraces while second-floor villas have balconies, both of which have ocean views.
Personal golf carts and bicycles come with each villa for guests to use, and are parked outside.
Amazing beds -- four-poster frames with high-count Frette linens, soft pillows, and down comforters. They may even top the much-lauded Westin Heavenly beds. Put simply: a bed can not get any better.
Each suite has a balcony or terrace, all of which have ocean views. Second floor and up balconies are less likely to see ants find their way into your room (a common problem in the Caribbean)
Powerful air-conditioning system that cools down the room very quickly.
37-inch plasma flat-screen TVs in the living room and in each bedroom. The TVs work well and get clear reception, and each TV gets about 80 channels, most of which are in English.
No stereo to plug in an iPod, but there is a DVD player attached to the TV. There are no on-demand movies, but the front-desk staff can rent movies upon request.
Molton Brown bath products -- moisturizer, shampoo, conditioner, and soap -- are favorites among luxe hotels (previously L'Occitane products were offered). A loofah and soaking salts for the Jacuzzi are also available.
Two small bottles of Fiji water come free with the room and are replaced twice daily. More bottles are available at the bar, but in a country where tap water is not potable, a little extra water in the room would be nice.
Coffee/tea maker, ice maker, microwave, and an iron and ironing board are in all rooms
The pool is small compared to those at surrounding mega-resorts such as the Paradisus Palma Real or the Punta Cana Hotel. But that's precisely the point -- it's never crowded. The pool is quiet, and the waiters are super-attentive. The adjacent Jacuzzi hot tub, hidden in a lush corner beneath a trestle of flowers, is big enough for about six people.
The fitness center at Tortuga is also small, but it's fine for the size of the hotel. There are two treadmills, an elliptical machine, an exercise bike, free weights, and weight-training machines. A single flat-screen TV hangs above the window over the pool. The giant windows overlook the pool and allow in plenty of light.
Guests at Tortuga also have their own personal golf carts to use during their stay. This makes for easy access to the golf course, nature preserve, scuba diving center, pools, tennis courts, and the Six Senses Spa at the nearby Punta Cana Hotel property.
The full-service Six Senses Spa is located in the clubhouse. This spa and development company has several luxury resorts and spas throughout the world, and this is one of the D.R.'s best luxury spas. It focuses on natural products, administering treatments using its own signature line as well as Sodashi Skin Care from Australia. The spa features several large, clean, and modern facilities, including a sauna, a 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.
An ocean side golf course conceived by a world-class designer.
The 18-hole La Cana golf course at the Punta Cana Estates property, which surrounds Tortuga, was designed by Pete Dye. Fourteen of the 18 holes run along the ocean, and the course was written up in Golf Digest. Greens fees are not too steep, and there are 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.
Designed for couples, but Tortuga can still accommodate kids.
The hotel can be incredibly accommodating for children, even providing them with beach toys. Nearby, at the Punta Cana Resort and Club property (which Tortuga guests can easily access), there's an endless list of activities for kids, including a petting zoo, exploring the eco-park, sailing, tennis, and bike riding.
There is no kids club, but hotel staff say they are happy to prepare kid-friendly meals at varying times for couples with children -- i.e., earlier for the kids, later for the adults. As for the room, families can opt for two-, three-, or four-bedroom villas.
Almost perfect -- ground-floor rooms might see some ants, as in any Caribbean resort.
Rooms at Tortuga Bay are tended to quite intensely. Maids make up the room during the day, then tidy up again during turn-down. Rooms are spotless, though ants are common in ground floor rooms at any resort in the Caribbean, Tortuga Bay included.
Outside, the grounds are all well-maintained. Towels are left on lounge chairs early in the day, then retrieved at night.
One excellent restaurant with more options nearby.
Tortuga Bay itself has just one restaurant on-site, Bamboo, though there are eight restaurants on the Punta Cana Resort and Club property, just a short golf cart ride away. Room service is also available 24 hours a day, which you can order via your handy personal cell phone.
Bamboo's food is very good, some of the best, freshest in the D.R. and easily comparable to good restaurants in New York or Miami, as well as the cuisine at the much-lauded Caso De Campo.
The surrounding Punta Cana Resort and Club has seven other restaurants (but meals can easily get expensive) and five bars which are open to all Tortuga guests:
La Cana's free breakfast buffet is located next to the pool, and its large, open dining room faces the beach. 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, serves 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 decor, complete with rusty anchors and antique diving gear, gives the dining area a lot of character.
La Choza is located on the beach just beyond the water sports and dive center. The location is scenic, but the food is basic.
La Cana Golf & Beach Club houses two restaurants: Cocoloba Restaurant and El Grill. Cocoloba serves nouveau Dominican cuisine for dinner. The intimate dining room is encased by tall French doors and windows and was designed by Oscar de la Renta. The chef prepares menu specials nightly, based on fresh ingredients in the kitchen, and is extremely accommodating to guest preferences, on or off the menu. El Grill serves American lunch fare like burgers, wraps, and salads with a tropical twist.
Playa Blanca serves beachside cokctails, seafood and grilled meats for lunch and dinner.
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.
A beautiful setting and amazing service at prices that compare to other, lesser 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. However, it is worth noting that while the Punta Cana Club hosts a number of weddings each year, Tortuga Bay, a 30-room boutique hotel within the greater Punta Cana Club development, does not. Basically, Tortuga Bay is an especially swanky place for a select few guests to stay while the Punta Cana Club hosts the actual wedding. Alternatively, guests can also stay at the more affordable (though still quite nice) Punta Cana Hotel, also a part of the Punta Cana Club development.
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.
Reception Locations: All receptions are held outside the Tortuga Bay hotel, at one of the several restaurants on the greater Punta Cana Club development. Options include: The Club House (up to 500 people); La Yola restaurant (up to 100 people); Playa Blanca Restaurant (up to 100 people); La Cana restaurant (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 from in price and buffets range for a bit less -- both are 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 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.
Service has to be good at a hotel this expensive, right? Well, not always, but at Tortuga the service really does deliver. Staff members quickly get to know guests by name: "Can I get you a drink, Mr. P--?"; "How are you, Mr. P--?" and the list of available services is extensive.
VIP transfers from Punta Cana International Airport, including
Twice daily maid sercice, with automatic turndown
Evening turndown service includes a bath drawn with floating rose petals and tea candles lit around the Jacuzzi and two tasty truffles on the bed.
Every guest has a personal concierge, or villa manager, who checks-in visitors in their private villas.
Guests receive a pre-programmed cell phone so they can call their villa manager or order room service at any hour