Matured Luxury in the Dominican Republic
By Sherri Telenko
There’s something a little surreal about being in the perfect resort, on the perfect beach setting, in a perfect climate. All the quality food I want (and more) including lamb shanks, sea bass and lobster tails, all the cocktails I can drink (and some I shouldn’t) and a butler at my disposal via hotel provided cell phone. This is what the Melia Hotels International calls paradise.
Actually, it’s what they call the adult-only Royal Service at Paradisus Palma Real Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and it’s one of the most luxurious five-star resorts on an island whose tourist industry has grown from two- and three-star offerings catering to budget travelers. Cheap booze cruise destination no more, Punta Cana’s recent development aims to change the country’s tourism image.
At the upscale Paradisus Palma Real, visitors give themselves over to indulgence, serenity, and an almost catatonic relaxed state. The entire resort has 746 rooms and is all-inclusive featuring some of the best restaurants on the coast. And because I’m a Royal Service member, I have access to the lounges, pool and beach areas available only to those with the same wristband as me, and no kids. Blissfully, no kids: children have their own pool and beach.
But 180 of those rooms are in the Royal Service area, which ups the exclusivity ante a notch higher by providing services unheard of outside rich and famous circles. There’s one butler per six rooms, and this person can be contacted via resort cell phone (you can add minutes if you need to make calls outside of the country, or hotel), to book cabanas, excursions, spa services (not included in the all inclusive fee), and make dinner reservations (all but the buffet Market Grill require such). In essence, he caters to every request. He even helped navigate me through the labyrinth of hallways and outdoor trails between rooms, restaurants, private pools and beaches, appearing out of nowhere when I was most lost.
Royal Service boutique-hotel style rooms have an ocean or partial ocean view, a balcony, red linen accents, a sitting area, marble floors and a whirlpool tub, which the butler will fill if you ask.
Like most of the 80-plus resorts along the Punta Cana coast, there’s privacy at the Paradisus Palma Real, bordering on reclusive that takes you miles away from the familiar. A trip here isn’t really about exploring the country-side but staying within the fantasyland boundaries. On the other side of the resort walls, the roads are narrow and winding, some under construction and being paved but many not. Shacks, small wooden houses and shops line streets and kids run barefoot. Some tourists take excursions (the safest way to venture out) but most stay within the comforts and safety of resort borders fueling up and winding down.
And why not? This stress-free vacation presents you with postcard perfect views of beaches, waves, white sand and thatched roof canopies sheltering rows of private cabana beds and beach loungers similar to outdoor beds. (Many patrons fall asleep here). Tall palm trees and dense tropical gardens shield the view of other hotels and the Dominican beyond these private beaches, and I feel a bit like Alice falling through a rabbit hole, then finding a swim-up bar at the end of the drop.
- Odds of Encountering Children: Some if you explore the entire resort, likely of you go to the family pool, but none if you stay in the Royal Service areas
- All 180 Royal Services room are identically designed and have a view of the ocean
- Royal Service rooms are equipped with hairdryers, robes, safe, coffee maker, mini refrigerator, umbrellas, beach tote bags and slippers
- 42 inch flat screen television in every room
- Free WiFi access throughout the resort
- Asian-inspired YHI Eco-Spa offers hundreds of spa services including the signature YHI shine 50-minute facial for $130, and 170-minute day spa rituals (package) for $270 to help calm you on arrival
- Fitness club, tennis courts on-site and golf nearby
- Outdoor morning yoga classes
- Daily ‘life enrichment’ classes such as sushi making and cigar rolling
- All inclusive dining at themed restaurants such as Italian-Argentinean at The Grill, five-star Italian at Palazzo, contemporary Asian at Bana, and Tex Mex at Mole
- Rates range by charter package provider but start at $3,000 per person, per week if you book through the hotel
-Photos by Sherri Telenko
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.