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One of the most frequent tasks we undertake in my office is matchmaking our clients to an appropriate resort option in the Caribbean. With so many different levels of quality, brand and niche, choosing between all the options can become quickly overwhelming to the traveler. The fear of arriving to a long awaited vacation and being disappointed or feeling out of place is totally valid!

Case in point was our visit to Punta Cana this July. We took some “adults only” time while our son was away enjoying his own summer adventures to check out three very different styles of resort.

First, a few words about arriving into Punta Cana – like many Caribbean airports, the arrival experience can be chaotic. Deplaning in DR is usually done via external staircase from the sleeve of the plane, and you emerge from the compressed cool air of your jet into the hot sun, squinting and sweating as you dream longingly of immediately changing into the swimsuit in your carry on. You’re boarded onto a bus and driven to the main terminal where you will get in line and wait for immigration clearance. Yuck.

Unless of course you’re booked with us – in that case we’ll have you met at the bottom of the stairs by a private golf cart and whisked away to clear customs in a private, air conditioned lounge. Sounds better, right? Let’s discuss before your next trip!

So – back to our exploratory mission.

Our first stop was the Paradisus Grand Cana – this Melia owned resort is a great example of how large scale family friendly all inclusive resorts are evolving to build tiered service levels. Set within the grounds of their larger Paradisus Palma Real property, the Grand is an elite section of newly built, spacious multi-bedroom accommodations, most of which have swim out options. The decor is super current (blond/reclaimed wood and open concept floor plans) and the common areas such as pools, bars and lounges are trendy and have a European flair (not surprising with Melia’s ownership). With a few upscale dining options (as well as access to the larger resort grounds) It’s a great spot for multi-generational families who desire spacious accommodations in an all inclusive setting. We especially enjoyed have a swim up room with a private cabana on our patio – after room service breakfast we were able to enjoy the whole day in tranquil privacy in our own “backyard.” Being just the two of us here, we saw many groups of families and friends partying and having a fantastic time – which is what the place is totally designed for!

After a couple of nights it was time to move to our next stop – the adults only Sanctuary Cap Cana. For those unfamiliar, Cap Cana is an exclusive gated community with an award winning golf club, located about 25 minutes from the Punta Cana airport. From the moment we arrived at Cap Cana we really loved the chill, fun vibe. We stayed in the Castle section of the resort which features turrets and romantic views as well as a separate pool. Many rooms in this building have swim out access (and some of the top floor suites have private jacuzzis and plunge pools). The other side of the resort features the Monarch Villas – larger, beachfront accommodations. And in between are a variety of junior suites in the main building. One of our favorite parts of Sanctuary is the little town that they’ve built (within the resort grounds) that hosts a traditional pub, a brick oven pizzeria, a sushi bar and an ice cream parlor, all of which are included in the nightly rate. There are also several larger a la carte restaurants within the main resort and of course a buffet. The food was great, particularly for an all inclusive, and the service at all the restaurants and bars was extremely friendly and well executed. The overriding feeling here was that the resort was FUN and we would absolutely come back for another visit.

Finally, we ended with another resort in Cap Cana – the 5 star, Virtuoso property Eden Roc. We were checked in at their open air lobby, and immediately handed cool towels and drinks before being taken to our private one bedroom villa via golf cart (which was ours to use the remainder of our stay). We ate a fresh catch lunch at their over the water restaurant and relaxed by the their immaculately staffed pool for the remainder of the day. Our villa was spectacular, featuring a private pool and cabana in the well screened backyard that was absolutely tranquil and hidden from view. The resort’s signature restaurant is a Relais & Chateaux open air concept where salads, veal and chicken specialties are prepared table side, and their Asian-fusion restaurant which overlooks the pool featured baked Alaska which was flambeed in front of us – it’s somewhat unusual to come back from Caribbean destinations raving about the food, but we were floored by the quality. Eden Roc absolutely lives up to its five star rating – the grounds were perfectly manicured, the pool service was indulgent and speedy and we left feeling totally relaxed (and sad to go).

Overall, the scouting mission was a success – we confirmed what we already new to be true – there’s a resort for everybody in DR. Whether you’re looking for a family friendly all inclusive getaway, an adults only party, or a five star exclusive hideaway with top notch dining options – it’s there only a few hours from the east coast!

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