The flavors of the Dominican Republic took center stage when Recommend recently visited the Barcelo Bavaro Grand Resort in Punta Cana during its annual culinary week. The theme this year was Peru, and in addition to top local chefs from the Caribbean island, the resort also welcomed Peruvian chef Flavio Solorzano to represent his country’s own cuisine.
The culinary week kicked off with a Peruvian dinner cooked by Solorzano. An appetizer of pork belly rind in an orange and chili reduction was followed by a cold starter of fried squid in green cilantro marinade. The main course was duck cooked in chili and lemon sauce with yucca, followed by cinnamon-spiced pork and potato stew flavored with chocolate and port wine.
“The annual Culinary Week at Barcelo Bavaro Grand Resort showcases renowned guest chefs from locations across the globe. Culinary Week is a great way for guests to experience authentic cuisine from different regions via interactive activities and events such as cooking demos, mixology classes, tastings and samplings,” says Sandy Pfeil, director of the Barcelo Bavaro Beach & Convention Center.
After the kick-off dinner, we rounded off the night by catching a performance at the resort’s open-air theater. Nightly live music and costumed dancers entertain the whole family with carnival- and circus-themed shows, including an early evening performance aimed at kids. For the more adventurous, the resort also has its own nightclub open until 3 a.m. as well as a 24-hour casino with table games and 150 slot machines.
Our next sampling of Barcelo Bavaro’s culinary week was a Dominican-Peruvian fusion menu prepared by guest chef Solorzano and the island’s own chef Martin Omar Gonzalez. Chili pepper squid and warm shrimp ceviche was the starter, followed by a main course of fish baked in banana leaves with sweet potato and corn, and then another course of Dominican baby goat stew with fried beans and rice.
“In addition to Culinary Week,” says Pfeil, “we offer year-round gastronomical experiences and amenities including a cigar and rum lounge, 14 specialty restaurants and 18 bars around the complex.”
The resort is one of the largest all-inclusive complexes in the Caribbean and consists of two hotels—the family-friendly Barcelo Bavaro Palace and the more secluded, adults-only Barcelo Bavaro Beach. We stayed at the larger Barcelo Bavaro Palace side of the resort, which has 1,402 rooms set amid a coconut plantation. Our guestroom had an outdoor jacuzzi tub on its spacious balcony offering a view of the ocean.
The property is located on more than a mile of pristine beachfront and is protected by a coral reef that ensures calm water for swimming. The sprawling pool complex features four swimming pools, including a children’s pool, adults-only pool and a semi-Olympic swimming pool. The Barcy Waterpark keeps children occupied with castles, waterfalls and water slides, while the new Pirates Island Waterpark is geared towards the whole family and features a wave pool and more extreme waterslides.
During the stay, I also had the opportunity to visit the U-Spa, which offers a range of treatments as well as hydrotherapy, thermal pools, a sauna and steam room. Other facilities at the resort include an 18-hole golf course, fitness center, professional soccer field, four tennis courts and a miniature golf course.
“This property has been my go to in Punta Cana for several years. Not only does it price well but the quality and service always exceed expectations,” says travel advisor Sarah Kline, president of Time for Travel, Ltd. “This is a great fit for my groups and destination weddings with so many room categories to select from. This resort sets itself apart from others on Bavaro beach because of the family rooms that will sleep up to six and true oceanfront suites. In a sea of other all-inclusives in this area Barcelo really stands out as an overall quality product with consistent rave reviews from my clients.
“It has a clean modern feel but with a Caribbean vibe set on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It caters to all ages and I have used this resort for everything from golf groups, large family reunions, weddings and corporate incentives.”
Recommend clients explore offsite. I took an adventure buggy excursion with Vacaciones Barcelo to explore the countryside of the east coast on 4-wheel drive vehicles. After an exhilarating drive along muddy dirt tracks we arrived at Macao Beach for a short stop, before heading off again to another location where we sampled organic Dominican coffee and homemade mama juana (a traditional Dominican Republic drink). After a demonstration of local cigars being hand-rolled, we had the chance to swim in a fresh water pool within the cave.
Barcelo Bavaro Grand Resort: barcelo.com