Much of the talk at this month’s DATE (Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange) in Punta Cana was about the continued growth of travel to the Dominican Republic (click here for more). But this important conference wasn’t just about the big picture; the focus was also on new and renovated hotels of all stripes. Here’s a look at the buzz about all-inclusives:
Bahia Principe has been busy on at least three fronts. First, the adults-only Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado, in Samana, will welcome families as of May 1. Second, Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Blue in the Bavaro complex has closed now through Nov. 1 for a complete head-to-toe renovation, and it will reopen this fall as an even more luxurious adults-only resort. “This is the first time in history that we’ve actually closed a hotel for renovations,” said Helen Montijano, v.p. of sales for the U.S. and Canada, during a coffee break between press conferences. Third, Nov. 1 will also be the debut of the Grand Bahia Principe Aquamarine, formerly Ambar Green. This will be the company’s first adults-only under the Grand brand, and it will have a renovated fitness center and a new cafe, sports bar, and other amenities. For more information, visit bahia-principe.com/en.
Blue Diamond Resorts has been on a roll, too. The Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana marked its grand opening on the eve of the 2017-2018 high season, and it embodies a major trend in Caribbean hospitality: resorts within larger resort complexes. This 168-room adults-only property has its own restaurants, pools, beach area, and Diamond Club, of course, but as elsewhere with the Hideaway brand, its guests may also use the facilities next door at Royalton Punta Cana and Memories Punta Cana resorts. For more information, visit royaltonresorts.com/hideaway-at-royalton-punta-cana.
The Royalton Bavaro Resort & Spa features a modern design and enough rooms (730) to offer nine restaurants, its own golf course, and a lazy river that’s almost a quarter mile long—a first for Royalton. The hotel itself forms an elongated rectangle whose beach is on one of the short ends. While walking from one end of the resort to the other, it occurred to this reporter that clients who prefer the beach rather than swimming pools might prefer rooms at the beach end of the property. For more information, visit royaltonresorts.com/royalton-bavaro or bluediamondresorts.com.
Excellence Punta Cana isn’t a new resort, but a first-time visitor might assume it is because this adults-only property has completely refurbished all 446 rooms, restaurants and bars, and the Excellence Club. Moreover, it has added new restaurants, bars, 20 suites with private pools. For more information, visit excellenceresorts.com/resorts/excellence-punta-cana.
In late 2018 the Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real will debut as an all-suite property ideal for clients who want some elbow room; the smallest of the 288 luxury accommodations is about 800 sq. ft. With its own beach club, water park, and (of course) swim-up suites, as well as the ability to serve both families and adults traveling without children, the Grand Reserve is positioned to be the top Paradisus property in the Dominican Republic. For more information, visit melia.com/en/hotels/dominican-republic/punta-cana/grand-reserve-at-paradisus-palma-real.
The news of Playa Hotels & Resorts‘ recent expansion on two Caribbean islands was so far-reaching that it’s hard to grasp it all. For now, therefore, let’s keep it simple with two things you need to know about its new stake in the Dominican Republic: First, Sanctuary Cap Cana, known for its distinctively Old World design, will close for renovations May 1, reopening Sept. 1 with 184 suites. Then, in the fall, it will add yet another 180 units in three-story buildings on the villa side of the property. Second, in the summer of 2019 Playa will open a new Ziva-Zilara in the Punta Cana-Bavaro area with a total of about 700 rooms and a water park for the kids. When asked if there’ll be a rooftop lounge, as in Rose Hall, Jamaica, a spokesperson exclaimed, “Yes! We always learn from our experiences with previous resorts.” For more information, visit playaresorts.com.
The new VH Atmosphere Resort & Beach Club is a 193-room, adults-only Puerto Plata property in Playa Dorada, so guests who want to golf get easy access to a classic Robert Trent Sr. course. The sister resort of VH Gran Ventana (click here), VH Atmosphere has a “soft focus” on wellness (Bagua Spa, zumba classes, etc.), which means that it also has five bars. The optional Royal Package includes, among other features, concierge service and an exclusive lounge and section of the beach. For more information, visit atmospherehotel.com.