"Thirty-five percent of all families surveyed said they plan to travel abroad this year—up nine percent from two years ago—and this year, it's Punta Cana, Dominican Republic that's trending on millennials' radar," according to a recent article I read in Condé Nast Traveler. "We already know millennials are more likely to have passports and more likely to plan a family vacation (44 percent) than Gen Xers (39 percent) or Baby Boomers (32 percent), so why not put millennials in charge of new family experiences?"
Well, I think that's exactly what my 30-year old cousin Nathalie and fiancé Frank intended when they decided to have their dream destination wedding in Punta Cana on Mother's Day weekend. "Yasss! You had me at 'we're in engaged' so we're in," I said. Then, Nat told me it was being held at Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa. "Sold."
Naturally, I knew it would be the greatest family reunion ever and best opportunity for family and friends to come together since everyone is spread out across the Americas, but I also knew it would be an emotional one from the overwhelming joys of celebrating a wedding to reconnecting with loved ones to the opportune time for me to celebrate my mother as this trip marks our first time traveling together since I was four months old - she took me to visit my grandparents who lived in neighboring country Haiti at the time. For enquiring minds, Dominican Republic and Haiti share the same island of Hispaniola, which is the second largest island in the Caribbean. I knew it would be a dream come true for all of us to spend the time together.
As part of the AMResorts portfolio of luxury resort destinations, each with its own unique personality, Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa just resonated with me as the ideal location not only for its proven track record of happy couples and the coordination of beautiful weddings - and indeed, Nat and Frank's wedding was beyond gorgeous and filled with joyous emotions - but also because of this something-fun-for everyone charm the resort has that allows for an organic, memorable family affair.
Although elegant in nature and grandiose in size, the resort is unpretentious with an inviting atmosphere, unparalleled service, inexpensive upgrades for preferred services, multiple choices in restaurants with reservation-free dining, Explorer's Club for Kids and the Core Zone Teens Club, tour desk Amstar offers amazing excursions for more fun outside of the resort, and an array of exclusive areas in-resort whether on the beach or poolside - a matter of fact, the pool is one of the largest free-form pools in Dominican Republic, but it never feels too crowded - there is always room for fun times to be had with family and friends.
So, please join me in this beautiful journey as I share my experiences staying at the Dreams Punta Cana Resort with you, our Wanderlista family...
Nice start to a beautiful weekend @martena
Butler service is available upon request at an additional cost for all Preferred Club accommodations at Dreams Punta Cana, and complimentary for guests who book the Master Suite. Services include arrangements for in-room breakfast in bed, laundry service coordination, full butler service at the pool and beach, airport transfer confirmation, collection of luggage, upgraded in-room amenities, personalized and express check-in and check-out.
Our living area and view as seen in the Preferred Club Junior Suite Tropical View (although this category comes with two double beds) @dreamsresorts
Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa features 620 guest rooms and suites—each luxuriously spacious, airy and bright. All are within nine connecting three-story buildings and go far beyond the all-inclusive experience with Unlimited-Luxury®, where nearly everything is included (it's also wristband-free so won't interfere with any arm candy and won't be a sight for sore eyes in those picture perfect moments).
The dining options are endless with their international array of specialty restaurants where reservations are never required (but some get so busy so best to check with your butler to coordinate). Or, you have the option to enjoy a romantic dinner in your suite or at one of the resort's romantic spots.
There are 8 dining experiences, including five à la carte restaurants, a buffet, a pizzeria and a café. The 24-hour Coco Café was the meeting spot for our family and friends for coffee in the morning or late night bites. The World Cafe which serves international buffet was the spot for breakfast (mom's favorite), kicking off a good morning with server Ricardo welcoming us daily with a smile, bright and early.
At an additional cost, and with the help of the wonderful Food & Beverage staff, we were able to coordinate two private events - a beach bonfire party fully catered on a Friday evening as a welcoming event for family and friends and two days later, a private lobster and steak dinner for all the mothers in our group as a Mother's Day gift. So although I attempted to try all restaurants, there were too many to choose from and not enough time in the day during my long weekend stay.
I enjoyed fresh tropical fruits in the morning poolside, breakfast at World Cafe Buffet, snacked at the Trattoria or Barefoot Grill, both located near the beach, then for lunch and dinner settled with where mom and the majority of the group wanted to go. For meat and pasta lovers, Seaside Grill for steaks and Portofino for excellent Italian cuisine were some of the restaurants my family and friends raved about. My favorites, and I'm pleased to report that there are many pescatarian and vegetarian options (other requests like gluten-free specialities can be accommodated), included:
OCEANIA: Seafood Specialities
LA TRATTORIA - PIZZA
WORLD CAFE - INTERNATIONAL BUFFET
COCO CAFE - Our meeting spot
My daily aperitivo started at the Preferred Club Lounge for Members Only where top-shelf liquor and hot and cold hors d’oeuvres are beautifully served. Jilbert soon became one of my favorite bartenders because soon after the first hour, whenever I would walk in thereafter, he would welcome me by name and champaña was immediately served - what a cool way to get the evening started. @martena
Preferred Club Beach Lounge @DreamsResorts
The gorgeous Dreams Spa by Pevonia features a Zen garden and Hydrotherapy area with sauna, steam rooms, whirlpool, hydro-massage, spa showers & ice plunge pool. The fitness room upstairs the spa includes state-of-the-art ellipticals and treadmills, and of course, the well-manicured grounds and trails is perfect for sunrise and sunset runs (my favorite was the path in front of my building, where I would pass by the Flamingo Lake multiple times a day finding the stunning pink birds either resting or about to take a journey with me throughout the resort). I also enjoyed the Taino culture and art displayed throughout the resort. You can tell that the resort and staff are committed to social responsibility with several practices, community-related programs and activities held at the resort, and the resort is Rainforest Alliance Certified™ for this commitment.
Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa: Playas Uvero Alto, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. +1 809-682-0404
The resort suggests to pre-book transfers via their tour operator Amstar, however, I booked late and nothing was available so I had to book private transfers via taxi service. I recommend Transfers.do as you can book about three hours in advance and it came out to about $100 roundtrip for two persons, and our drivers were on time and super friendly. Davey welcomed us at the airport, Raphael Junior drove us to the resort, and Luis picked us up on time at the resort to make our flight. OK, perhaps mom and I may have been a bit sad and reluctant to leave the resort but his smile upon dropping us off at PUJ ensured that we would be happy to return to Punta Cana.
by Nadeige Martelly for Wanderlista