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How did you get to the destination?
To get to Punta Cana I took a flight from Newark, New Jersey (EWR) to Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ), the leading airport for travel to the Dominican Republic with convenient direct flights arriving daily from around the world. Punta Cana airport is very easy to navigate and there are plenty of taxis available when you arrive, as well as shops to buy anything you may have forgotten at home. You can work with your resort and have them arrange for transportation, and the ride from the airport to the Club Melia properties was less than 15 minutes away.
What amenities are on the property?
During our trip we stayed at The Circle at Paradisus Palma Real which is resort ID #DM83. Upon arrival to the beautiful property we were greeted by our individual concierge/host who helped us to quickly check in, offered us a cold welcome drink and then explained to us a bit about her services during our stay. Each guest will receive a concierge who is available to you at all times to help make reservations for the spa or for dinners on property, they can help get items for your room while you are spending time at the beach, or to share with you activities happening during your stay that you may want to take advantage of.
Each of the Melia properties have pools, beach access, cabanas, beach chairs and access to an on-site gym which includes a fitness center, classes and a YHI spa for treatments, sauna and steam rooms. You also have access as part of the all-inclusive package to a variety of restaurants, bars and lounges, swim up bars in the pools and room service. There are also 2 kids clubs on the property for Club Melia guests which allow kids of all ages the chance to play, hang out, do arts and crafts, watch movies and mingle with other children who are also on vacation. There are 2 large water parks as well which allow for a full day of fun for the kids, and a bar and grill for meals for the whole family.
Tell us a bit about your room
The rooms at Club Melia at Paradisus Punta Cana #A254, Club Melia at Paradisus Palma Real #8673, Club Meliá at Meliá Caribe Beach #7563 and The Circle at Paradisus Palma Real #DM83 are large and spacious, offering a variety of room sizes, configurations and amenities. I stayed in the The Circle at Paradisus Palma Real which is resort ID #DM83 and had a huge dining room/kitchenette area, a full living room with a walk out onto the wrap around patio, a plush bedroom with king size bed, a bathroom with a bathtub and double vanity for getting ready, and a separate bathroom with another vanity area and shower. The best part of the room? The outside Jacuzzi on your private balcony! What better way to end the day that a nice dip in the Jacuzzi with some wine under the stars. My room was located right near a very large pool, and only a ten minute walk from the beach. You really get the best of both worlds, so if you love the sand or prefer the pool you can venture to both quickly and conveniently.
Is there a special check in process for RCI members?
Yes, RCI members have special check in areas at all of the Melia properties and will be greeted with snacks and drinks upon arrival. You will feel relaxed and at ease as soon as you check in and be provided all the information you need for your week on property.
How do you get around the property?
You can get around by foot or you can arrange for a golf cart to pick you up to take you to a neighboring property. Most guests never even leave the property because there is so much to do, but if you need to leave all of that can be arranged for you at the front desk. The golf carts have also been decorated by local artists which adds a nice, colorful touch to your cruises around the properties. You can also walk everywhere or grab a free rental bicycle.
PACKING TIPS & WEATHER
What would you recommend packing for someone visiting for the first time?
You do a lot of walking on property so I recommend comfortable shoe like sandals and sneakers. If you enjoy working out while on vacation you can pack your gym clothes and go for a run outdoors or visit the gym on site which has state of the art equipment. I highly recommend packing lots of bathing suits as you will want to be out by the pool or beach each day to soak up the sun, and you can also pack a few dressier outfits at night if you want to do some of the fancier restaurants, or hit the casino at night time.
What was the weather like during the month of your visit?
The Dominican Republic is warm year round with temperatures in the high 70s-80s. It is usually humid so make sure to bring clothes that are breathable, cool and light weight. You will not need a jacket a night or during the day time.
ACTIVITIES & EXCURSIONS
Tell us some of the activities you did while on your trip.
There are on site excursion partners to help you coordinate any off-site activities like tours, day trips and more. There are also free nightly events like live music and performances that are part of your all-inclusive package that you can take advantage of. While we were on our trip we were able to see a live music performance including dancers and drummers. There is also pool aerobics, yoga and spin classes and other activates on property. Lee and I got treated to a one hour massage at the YHI Spa on site which was heavenly. The entire spa sounds, smells and feels like a tropical oasis. You can also spend the entire day at the spa and relax in the hot tubs, steam rooms or saunas and even get beauty treatments to pamper yourself like manicures, pedicures and makeup application.
If you want to take a swing at the golf course (pun intended) Punta Cana has some of the best golf courses in the world. Several of the courses have been designed by professional golfers, making for the perfect place to challenge yourself on the green. Cocotal Golf and Country Club is located a short ride from the resorts and can be arranged with your concierge or front desk. The club house offers a full shop to get equipment, golf balls or apparel that you may need and a lounge with a full bar to hang out after a long day out playing on the course.
If you are like me and are not great at golf you can hire a trainer who can come and give you a lesson. We met up with two of the instructors for a morning tour and they also were kind enough to give us a few pointers. They spent time with us at the driving range helping us work on our swings and then we went zipping around on the golf cart to see the entire course. Cocotal Golf & Country Club includes a 27-hole golf course designed by Jose "Pepe" Gancedo, a Spanish golfer.
FOOD & DINING
Are there any local specialties someone needs to make sure they try?
In the Dominican Republic you can try a bit of everything, but I especially liked that they had options for everyone. As a vegetarian I am always unsure how many things I will be able to select on a menu, but I never had that issue at the Melia properties. All the food and drinks were delicious, including the amazing desserts! I also loved the fresh juices and teas made on property which are perfect for some healthy energy to start the day or after a long dip in the hot tub. I highly recommend morning green juices with local, fresh fruits.
Favorite place to eat on property and what do you recommend there?
As part of our all-inclusive package you can take advantage of dozens of restaurants including buffet style or ala carte dining. From Asian to Italian, steakhouse to local Dominican fare, there are endless options for places to try each day of your trip. Some of our favorite places to eat were Domenica, Casa Nostra, Mina and The Winery. At any time on property you can grab a drink at one of the many bars and I recommend letting the bartender make you something of their choice – anytime they made something for us it was delicious and so refreshing!
The Winery was my favorite since you are surrounded by wine bottles, in a very dimly lit, small restaurant that is by reservation only. The staff will provide all the food and pairings and you simply have to purchase your bottle of wine. They will bring out delicious apps and dishes that complement the wine perfectly, and also teach you about wine along the wine. I loved how intimate the setting was and great for a romantic dinner.
TIP: A great feature about staying at this all-inclusive resort is that at any time you can order room service to your room and every item on the menu is included in your all-inclusive fee - so if you want to order a quick breakfast, bottle of wine, or late night snack it's just a call or mobile order away.
Speaking of mobile ordering, another great feature at the Club Melia properties is the Melia mobile app. Upon arriving you can download the app and everything you need is a click away; room service ordering, a schedule of activities, ability to make reservations and more. I absolutely loved using the app during my stay to order room service from the comfort of my bed.
Who is this resort/destination best suited for? (Family friendly, for couples, friends/group trip etc.)
This resort is great for the entire family! With the Kids & Co. kids’ area, as well as the large waterparks on site, the kids will have a great time and have more than enough activities to keep them busy! For couples this can be a very relaxing and romantic trip as well since you can enjoy couples massages and treatments at the YHI spa, enjoy candlelit dinners at various restaurants, visit the casino for some night time fun or relax in your room with room-serve or request a special bath turn down service where the staff will set up your bath with champagne, aromatherapy oils and candles. You can also partake in lots of on-site activities like free music shows, yoga, food/wine pairings, water aerobics and more!
What is the overall “vibe” of this destination?
Great for those who like to relax and recharge, for those looking for warm weather and sunshine every day and those who are looking for a location that has a rich culture and great food.
I was traveling on this trip with a co-worker and we had both never been to Punta Cana before. We enjoyed learning about the area, the culture, the staff and what makes the Dominican Republic so beautiful and unique. My visit was only for four days, but I wish I had the opportunity to stay a few more days to really enjoy the area and the weather. The people of the DR as some of the warmest, friendliest and most welcoming people – that’s one of my favorite memories of the trip is just how wonderful the staff treated us and made us feel from the moment we arrived, until the moment we left for the airport.
What is something you wish you knew ahead of time or would want to do next time you return to this location?
I would recommend staying a full week, there is so much to do between all of the Melia properties, dozens of restaurants, various pools, beach, and activities that you can fill 7 days easily without ever getting bored. I’d also make sure to pack extra light clothing since the DR can be quite humid and you want to wear lots of breathable outfits.
Any fun facts about the area you can share, or something you learned?
Punta Cana is so full of nature and really makes you feel at peace. The resorts are surrounded by natural mangroves, wild life like birds and turtles. Unlike many other beach destinations you really feel like you are surrounded by tranquility. Yes you have the white sand beach and ocean, but you also feel like you are in a green oasis, which is evident when you fly into Punta Cana, you see green for miles.
Fun Fact: Did you know that many of the scenes from the movie Jurassic Park were filmed in the DR due to its lush greenery and mountains?
I highly recommend visiting Punta Cana if you have never been to the Dominican Republic. The Club Melia properties offer everything you will need to have an amazing vacation; sun, sand, all-inclusive package so you can eat and drink until your hearts content, activities on site, pools galore and spacious rooms. The attention to detail by their staff is top notch and worth coming back for. This area is great for families of all sizes and ages, group trips or a couple’s vacation.