Anyone planning a visit to a new all-inclusive resort knows the feeling of euphoria giving way to dread. You’ve made a massive investment in a leap into the unknown. Sure, it looks super nice on the website. But you have made the mistake of reading the one-star reviews on TripAdvisor and now you think you’re all paying through the nose to spend Christmas in a cockroach-infested hellhole. I am on a lovely family vacation in the Dominican Republic which is not in any way a travel writing trip or working holiday. I did want to share some knowledge about this resort though, because I found good quality, accurate information hard to come by beforehand.
- Dreams Punta Cana is actually rather great. There will be some nit-picking in what follows so I want to lead on this positive note. I think you are very likely to have a good time if you come here. I am willing to overlook quite a lot of stuff but I am also very well-travelled and discerning and Dreams PC gets the thumbs up from me. I came with a husband who bankrolled this trip and likes creature comforts and three children, two of whom have been known to refer to themselves as “pamper kids” without irony, and they are all huge fans of the resort.
- The food is generally pretty good. It’s always a worry on all inclusive but there are plenty of options and no complicated/unfair booking system – it is first come, first served. The Beachside Grill steakhouse is particularly good for evening meals, and Oceana does great seafood – tuna tartare, mahi mahi with coconut rice etc. Breakfast at the main buffet is excellent and they are careful to cater very well to children.
- The shop is expensive. Like, it gives you the sensation of being physically robbed when you go in there expensive. What do I mean by expensive? Ten US dollars for a packet of BABY WIPES. Five US dollars for a tiny bag of Hershey Kisses. I am staring down the barrel of having to go in there later to buy more swim nappies and am taking fifty dollars in cash with me, such is my pessimism.
- The resort claims to be a 45-minute transfer from the international airport but landing in the late evening we made better time than that along roads that seemed to be of singularly good quality when you’re used to Barnet driving.
- NO WRISTBANDS! I for one am always grateful to be spared the humiliation…
- The pools are a bit cold but really lovely. They are shallow all over and it is very rare to struggle to find a deck chair even on the busiest days.
- The gym isn’t huge but it has plenty of modern equipment and if you go at random times it can be virtually deserted. Something I think is a bit cheeky in a four-star resort – there is a lovely-looking indoor pool, sauna and steam room but you have to pay 45 USD to use them for 15 minutes/as part of a pricey spa treatment. To be honest that kind of facility should be available FOC.
- The sea is pleasant but in December at least can be surprisingly rough – I had a very brief and unsuccessful sea kayaking trip with my 8 year old when the wind was up which is a shame because it’s an activity I have really enjoyed before in the calmer seas of Turkey and St Lucia. Teddy the toddler has been paddling but I wouldn’t take him out in the sea properly.
- There is a big kids club for ages 3 to 12 which we have only used once. I guess we came to spend time with the children after a mad year and we can’t put Teddy in there anyway so there’s no upside of adult time being granted. It looks to be a good one though, with a great outdoor pirate ship play area and lots of activities all day and evening.
- The hotel and staff make a real effort with big occasions. They hosted a lavish Christmas Eve gala dinner and on Christmas Day Santa Claus arrived in a helicopter on the beach (!!) and gave all the kids presents. The resort goes the extra mile in other charming and slightly unnecessary ways too, like hosting flamingos, a wild macaw and tortoises in it beautifully manicured gardens. It all contributes to the generally positive vibe.
Have you been to this Dreams resort or another Dreams resort? I would love to know what you have to say about any of them.