From a serene and secluded haven for honeymooners to a massive all-inclusive with a mile-long list of amenities, these are the 12 best luxury hotels in the Dominican Republic’s Punta Cana area.
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 the 30-room Tortuga Bay hotel is the closest most people will get to knowing, since de la Renta designed the entire property. If the resort is any indication, the answer is that it's posh, yet profoundly relaxing. The 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.
Eden Roc is a beautiful all-suite boutique in the gated community of Cap Cana, home to tennis courts, a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, a marina, a beach club, and numerous vacation villas and second homes. Unlike the party-centric Punta Cana, Cap Cana attracts a more reserved crowd of couples and families. The sprawling property is best explored via golf cart, and all guests receive one with their suite. The 34 colorful suites are clustered around a small, man-made lagoon and feature elegant decor (picture four-poster beds, intricate floor tiling, and spacious bathrooms). Up-to-date amenities include iPad-controlled lights, sound systems, and TVs with numerous channels in Spanish and English.
A family-friendly resort might turn off those without kids, but that should not be the case at The Reserve. Practically hiding in Paradisus Palma Real's grandiose shadow, the Reserve is exactly how it sounds: quiet, spacious, relaxed, and luxurious. While Palma Real is meant to impress, this serene garden-like environment puts guests at immediate ease with manicured grounds and soft music. Buildings are spread out and each section has a separate concierge. The property offers upscale amenities such as a top-notch spa, yoga, and a seemingly never-ending pool area. Plus, guests have free access to the services, facilities, and restaurants next door -- particularly the beach area, which this property lacks.
The Reserve is smaller than the adjacent Paradisus Punta Cana, with just 132 spacious one-bedroom luxury suites. All have classic decor -- mahogany furniture, marble floors, and muted tones -- as well as big balconies, separate living/dining areas with kitchenettes, and minibars containing beer, soda and snacks. Reserve guests can access the amenities and restaurants next door (minus Royal Services), so they don't lose out on features by staying here. The beach area is a good hike away, but the tangerine bikes are useful for getting around, and it's not too far to walk to the large pool complex, fitness center, yoga studio, and Asian-themed spa.
Designed to resemble a Spanish castle town, this remote, adult-only resort on an oceanside cliff in the Cap Cana development features crenellated structures that evoke Spanish castillos from during and after the Moorish invasion of the peninsula. Towers built from blocks hewn from a chalky yellowish stone frame sweeping views of a jade-green sea, then transition into stone plazas that in turn lead to modern resort pools. The beautifully decorated pools, spa, and restaurants are all among the D.R.'s best.
Made up of 55 massive suites, the tranquil, adults-only Sivory rests on one of the most remote stretches of Punta Cana (a 60-minute drive from the airport) and is surrounded by dense tropical plant life. All suites feature two-person hot tubs, two-person showers, and private, intimate balconies -- all ideal for a romantic getaway. In addition to its premier spa with outdoor "bucket" showers, the hotel has three exceptional restaurants on-site, as well as a wine cellar stocked with over 8,000 bottles.
One of four Paradisus resorts in Punta Cana, the upscale, 554-room Palma Real has a romantic Caribbean setting and feels bigger than its sister properties, with a palatial lobby leading to a jaw-dropping courtyard, pool and beach area. The food and beverage offering here is a highlight; there are impressive international buffets as well as a la carte restaurants (one from a Michelin-starred chef) that will appeal to adults and honeymooners. Suites are decorated with classic mahogany furniture and marble tile floors, and have coffeemakers, minibars, and free Wi-Fi. For a more luxurious experience, Royal Service offers additional amenities and special access to a posh lounge. A beautiful spa is also available.
This expansive, relatively uncrowded property is spread over peaceful gardens sprinkled with wild orchids, palms, and exotic statues. In fact, there are over 30 two-story bungalow-style buildings holding close to 700 rooms. Guests can expect to walk or hitch rides on the regular shuttle service to get to the beach, pools, luxury spa, yoga studio and impressive restaurants around the resort; there are also bike stations for those who prefer to cycle. The beach doesn’t quiet down at night as it can at other resorts, but rather comes alive with a party scene appealing to both young and old. The Royal Service upgrade -- expect a sales pitch upon arrival -- allows access to the private lounge and a separate pool and beach area.
Many travelers assume that the Hard Rock is a hard-boozing, party-all-night type of place. But in reality, it's a luxury property -- with expensive nightly rates that tend to deter the college-age crowd. The 1,790-room hotel appeals to hedonistic bachelor parties as much as it does to families with young children -- and the massive size means that different groups can peacefully coexist. Couples spend their days at the spa or the adults-only pool (one of 13 on-site pools), families use the kids' club and the mini-golf course, gamblers spend all night at the casino (the biggest in the D.R.), business travelers utilize 65,000 square feet of meeting space, music lovers catch a concert at the on-site theater, and partiers head to the nightclub until the wee hours. As cliche as it sounds, there really is something for everyone here.
Opened in November 2013, the stylish Breathless is absolutely pristine. Common spaces are calming with earth-toned decor and teak accents, while rooms are outfitted in bright geometric patterns. Shady walkways and manicured lawns weave throughout the resort’s restaurants, bars, shops, and pools, and a lazy river also snakes through the grounds. Rates include everything from the food and alcohol to the water sports and themed pool parties, but some guests complain that the food and service at the restaurants lag.
The 1,600-room Palace Deluxe is the main resort at the Barcelo Bavaro complex, and features tons of on-site features including an attractive spa, a 24-hour casino, four pools, and 11 restaurants. But aside from substantial lines at the front desk, the guest capacity of the resort rarely shows: Guests do not have to search for spots at the pools and beach, and reservation requirements keep restaurants well organized. Couples, families, and partiers all mingle seamlessly at the property. Though the adults-only sister property has a slightly more romantic vibe, plenty of couples opt to stay here as it is where most of the features are located. The hotel's rooms feature iPod docks, flat-screen TVs, and attractive, sleek decor.
This secluded 96-room getaway is an hour from the airport on a bumpy dirt road, but it feels more like a million miles from Punta Cana's mega-resorts. Sleek, spacious suites come with gorgeous terraces and private plunge pools. The white-sand beach is uncrowded, the pool is pristine, and the spa is considered one of the best in the D.R. Included amenities -- yoga classes, laundry services, top-shelf liquor, and even a horseback riding session -- are plentiful, but a difficult-to-reach location and no kids’ club make it less suited for families. But that’s just what makes the Zoetry one of the top honeymoon destinations in the Dominican Republic.