We’re not the type to opt for the all-inclusive resort over the rustic inn, but every now and then, a little luxury is nice. Ideally, that luxury comes in unique packaging without the drunken dads, screaming children, tacky entertainment, and bland restaurants. OK, we admit we’re a little bit picky, but at least we know what we want, which is how we ended up at the Paradisus Punta Cana Resort in the Dominican Republic.
So unlike any other all-inclusive, this Meliá hotel is spread out over ecological gardens you’ll definitely want to explore, and features a low-key layout and creative and cultural entertainment that does not attract the all-inclusive type. We were right at home.
Driving up the road that takes you to the resort through the rainforest toward the beach, you’ll forget you’re into the Dominican Republic’s tourism capital. Thanks to the surrounding vegetation, the resort is in it’s own little paradise, without any other hotel in sight.
A boardwalk-style path with a vaulted, wooden ceiling supported by pillars leads you to the wide-open lobby. The path is surrounded by greenery and is lit to highlight the beautiful wood beams without seeming unnatural. The theme continues into the lobby, which also has a roof of wooden beams, but the floors turn to marble once the space unfolds, reminding you that while you may be in the jungle, you’re in a very fancy one. In that way, the lobby sets the tone for the rest of the resort; it’s a tropical paradise with pockets of extravagance in places like the pool areas and funky restaurants, but in between, it’s pure jungle.
Like any fancy room, this area has lots of seating options—from big beds to shiny couches. Feel free to go all Goldilocks on the place and try out each one before your trip is up, we know you want to.
In the hotel’s hub, you’ve got reception (can’t find it? Just follow the purple light display), restaurants, the casino and the lobby bar (more purple lights will lead you there).
Lots of nooks and crannies extend from the lobby waiting to be claimed. The cushioned seating and flowing white curtains of these hidden gazebos will tempt you to stay awhile, but don’t get comfortable just yet. There’s more to explore.
The 688 rooms are clustered in villas and spread out over the vast property, and just like every inch of the gardens, no two rooms are the same. The junior suites feature sand-colored floor tiles throughout, sunken seating areas, and, with 500+ sq. feet, more space than some Manhattan apartments. Royal Service rooms are for adults only and feature more sophisticated décor. Depending on the type of Royal Service room, you may find coral-like light fixtures, private gardens, whirlpools, 1970s-style furniture in bright green and silver and equally retro hung photos of disco balls, ocean views, and our favorite, the fish tank that serves as a headboard. These suites comes with pillow menus, 24-hour-butlers, and access to a private beach area and pool, because apparently, the ones that everyone else uses just aren’t good enough (we didn’t notice a difference).
Don’t tell those Royal Service guests this, but the rooms are all about the same size (aside from the One Bedroom Master Suite) and everyone is treated royally thanks to king beds and private balconies.
When walking around the resort grounds, don’t be surprised if you forget you’re within a massive hotel. To keep guests in line—literally—the property was designed in a grid. With the lush vegetation and two-story villas peaking out between fronds, it’s easy to feel like you’re in a quiet gated community, or even a self-sufficient town.
Think of it this way: If you took a gated community or resort and plopped it into some Botanical Gardens, sprinkling all the buildings throughout, you’d have the Paradisus Punta Cana.
With over a million feet of ecological gardens that make up the resort, you’ll actually want to go out for a stroll when staying here, even if you have nowhere to go. Management pays as much attention to the grounds and paths as they do the pools and beach.
Sure, the 12 restaurants, five pools, and white sands are impressive, but … been there, done that. The palm tree and mangrove-lined pathways make Paradisus Punta Cana especially enchanting.
The resort is secluded a good 20-something miles away from Punta Cana’s center. Paradisus Punta Cana is one of many high-end resorts in the area of Bavaro, and while you definitely don’t need to leave the property, we do recommend a drive through Bavaro to check out the handicraft vendors and local restaurants.
Address: Playas de Bavaro, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Website: Paradisus Punta Cana
Room Rates: $247 – $541
Maggie Parker is Paste Magazine’s assistant travel editor.