Sometimes when you travel, you want to really dig into a place. And the Dominican Republic certainly has a lot to offer. There's the National Palace, the Columbus Lighthouse, and the gorgeous waterfalls of the Damajaqua Cascades, for a start. Whether you're interested in the country's Spanish colonial history or just want to look at some pretty scenery, the Dominican Republic has plenty to offer. Sometimes, however, you don't want any of that. Sometimes all you want is to sit somewhere beautiful while a stranger hands you free drinks with little umbrellas. Here are some of the best places to make those daydreams come true.
Excellence Punta Cana
The staff at Excellence are often singled out for praise in particular, which seems striking for such a big resort. There are twelve different tiers of rooms, and at the very least, guests will have a hot tub in their rooms. If you want to upgrade, you can find yourself with everything from an ocean view to a private plunge pool or even a rooftop terrace. Once you reach a certain tier of rooms, they'll even provide a laptop, cell phone, and iPad for your stay, but odds are you won't feel like plugging in—not with scuba lessons, pools, nine restaurants, and ten bars all waiting for you.
Paradisus Palma Real
Paradisus may be the poshest, most expensive all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic, decked out in marble floors and rich mahogany furniture. The 554 suites include a hot tub for two and spa jet showers. There are casinos, nightly entertainment, and scuba diving, plus you get unlimited green fees for the Cocotal Golf & Country Club. You can also take lessons in everything from tango and wine tasting to candle making and Zen philosophy while you're here. Yet, the best thing about this property is it's smaller on-site boutique resort area.
The Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real
That's right, Paradisus Palma Real is so intense that it has its own boutique resort inside the main resort, Inception-style. The Reserve is geared towards families—in fact, kids stay free—and from the Kids Zone to the Family Concierge to the children's and paddling pools next to the main swimming area, the accommodations are definitely geared towards making the family vacation a stress-free one. There's also YHI Spa, a distinct spa that is separate from the main resort's Eco Spa.
Secrets Royal Beach
Secrets is great for honeymooners and couples. Three different types of suites (with options from "tropical view" to "swim-up") are furnished in bright, tropical-inspired colors. But don't let the palette fool you—Secrets is adults-only. In addition to top-shelf spirits and five restaurants, you have the option of schlepping next door to Now Larimar Punta Cana for any of the dining options there. Much of Secrets' grounds are marked by a free-form pool that flows throughout, and, in addition to the expected sand and surf, the hotel contains an on-site casino and live music shows. For a little extra, there's a full-service spa and golf nearby, as well.
Zoëtry Agua Punta Cana
Zoëtry resorts have a wellness-oriented focus, and Zoëtry Agua certainly illustrates that. This boutique resort has only 96 suites, which allows staff to focus on guest experience. The thatched roofs and open, private terraces enhance the eco-friendly vibe. While there are fewer dining options onsite, there are four restaurants (one of which is available 24 hours a day), and their Sip, Savor, & See package lets you dine at nearby resorts, as well. The spa offers a full array of facial, body, skin, and massage treatments, and the fitness center never closes.
Barceló Dominican Beach
Barceló sits right on the beach in Punta Cana offering seven types of rooms and a nice all-inclusive package. Here, you're covered for dining at any of the six a la carte restaurants (though one does come with fees), three buffets, and eight bars. You can also snack all day, get into all the live shows and dance clubs, drop your kids off for the children's programs, and take part in activities from archery, tennis, snorkeling, and windsurfing. The Barceló website makes it readily clear what is included and what isn't, which is always a plus. Another plus is that the package is generous.