Best All-Inclusives: Punta Cana Resorts

January 30, 2013

At resorts in the Dominican Republic’s all-inclusive mecca, free food and drink is just the beginning. Check out our favorite Punta Cana surprises – all unexpected, all included. See our gallery of 30 best all-inclusive resorts.

20. Majestic Colonial

Majestic Colonial

My first stop after checking in to an all-inclusive is usually the main pool. So when I swept through the Majestic Colonial Punta Cana‘s gilded lobby to find a resort-length lazy pool starting feet away, I was immediately intrigued. I can join the action at the pool bar or just float peacefully along. – KH Majestic Colonial
19. Iberostar Bavaro

Iberostar Bavaro

Everybody wants a good deal right? The bargain hunter in me loved that a stay at Iberostar Bavaro granted access to the resort’s other properties anytime I wanted (while guests at the others aren’t allowed at Bavaro). Pay one price and have it all. – KH Iberostar Bavaro
18. Melia Caribe Tropical

Melia Caribe Tropical

Lost luggage would almost be welcome with a shopping mall like Melia‘s Palma Real. I could feel my palms itching at the sight of favorite brands like Puma, Armani Exchange, and Guess. And there are still niche boutiques off the lobby for the gifts you really should be buying. – KH Melia Caribe Tropical
17. Paradisus Punta Cana

Paradisus Punta Cana

Flipping the VIP concept on its head, Paradisus Punta Cana, (and all Paradisus resorts in fact) makes the family section the über-swank area of the property. With swim-up pools, in-room PlayStation consoles and a fair share of the fine dining options, kids get the royal treatment. As it should be. – KH Paradisus Punta Cana
16. Barceló Palace Deluxe

Barceló Palace Deluxe

Parents rejoice. The Barceló Palace has mastered the art of amenities for big and little kids. There’s a semi-pro baseball field, 18-hole miniature golf, the Pirate Island Water Park, with waterslides and a wave pool, a soccer pitch, nightclub for teens and adults, even a giant chess set. – KH Barceló Palace Deluxe
15. Iberostar Grand Bavaro

Iberostar Grand Bavaro

There’s décor – and then there are giant sailboats in the middle of Iberostar Grand Bavaro‘s fountains. That was my first thought upon seeing the three-mast wooden boat that serves as Iberostar’s nightclub. The boat’s upper deck provides an elegant perch for after dinner cocktails, while the nightclub below feels intimate and novel. – KH Iberostar Grand Bavaro
14. Paradisus Palma Real

Paradisus Palma Real

Stepping into the Palma Real‘s lobby is like being transported to a fern gully paradise. Vines creep around columns, koi ponds dot the reception area, and minimalist architecture compliments the ripe landscape. The resort sits on a natural mangrove, and the ever-chirping birds and crickets won’t let you forget. – KH Paradisus Palma Real
13. Barceló Bavaro Beach

Barceló Bavaro Beach

I don’t think I’ve ever checked an amenities list looking for a church, so the Barceló Bavaro scores major points with this inclusion. The Virgen de San Salvador chapel has Catholic services on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, with a view of the lake and sweeping golf course to boot. – KH Barceló Bavaro Beach
12. Sivory Punta Cana

Sivory Punta Cana

All-inclusives are all about all you can drink, so it was all I could do to contain my excitement about Sivory‘s Gourmond Wine Cellar. There are more than 200 vintages and nearly 8,000 bottles, and while you might expect the whole list to be extra, quite a few are included. – KH Sivory Punta Cana
11. Zoetry Punta Cana

Zoetry Punta Cana

Caribbean roads are notoriously rough and winding and the DR is no exception. But I can skip the Dramamine pill if I book seven nights in a Suite Carib or higher at Zoetry Agua Punta Cana, which comes with a one-way helicopter transfer from the airport. Forget limos, this is how you arrive in style. – KH Zoetry Punta Cana
10. Dreams Punta Cana

Dreams Punta Cana

With more than 600 rooms, 14 bars and six restaurants, Dreams Punta Cana makes a big splash. But it’s the small and unexpected niceties here that surprised us the most: fresh flowers in every room; strolling flocks of peacocks; and a bountiful poolside fruit kabob stand that made our mouth water every time we walked by. -SG Dreams Punta Cana
9. Riu Naiboa

Riu Naiboa

Truthfully, we weren’t expecting any inclusions beyond food, drink and a beach chair at budget-friendly Riu Naiboa resort, the least pricey of five hotels in Riu’s massive Punta Cana compound. So the complimentary Wi-Fi was an unexpected bonus. Granted, it’s just 90 minutes and is accessible only in the lobby. But we’ve stayed at much pricier resorts and still had to shell out to log on. -SG Riu Naiboa
8. Excellence Punta Cana

Excellence Punta Cana

Because it’s adults-only, Excellence Punta Cana is the perfect all-inc for a lovey-dovey getaway. But if you like your romance served with a side of raciness, you’ll love the complimentary in-room naughty movies (not that we’re into that sort of thing) at this chic water’s-edge enclave. Excellence Punta Cana
7. Hard Rock Punta Cana

Hard Rock Punta Cana

No need to blow through your international data plan telling your Facebook friends what a good time you’re having at Hard Rock Punta Cana. Room rates at the party hearty all-inc include free phone calls to the U.S. and Canada, so you can brag with abandon instead of just tweeting the highlights. -SG Hard Rock Punta Cana
6. Dreams Punta Cana

Dreams Punta Cana

Dreams Punta Cana scores again! This time not for its inclusions but for what you don’t get: a wristband. Of all the Punta Cana resorts we checked out, Dreams was the only one that didn’t require its guests to wear the decidedly unstylish plastic bracelet. A refreshing anomaly, indeed. -SG Dreams Punta Cana
5. Excellence Punta Cana

Excellence Punta Cana

At most all-incs you’ll pay extra for spa treatments and off-resort excursions. But not at Excellence Punta Cana (also our No. 8 pick), where every guest gets a complimentary half-hour horseback riding excursion, and those who spring for an Excellence Club room also score a free “aqua wellness” spa treatment. -SG Excellence Punta Cana
4. Riu Palace Bavaro

Riu Palace Bavaro

Riu Palace Bavaro is the Punta Cana flagship of Riu’s high-end Palace brand, and with six restaurants and 24-hour room service you’ll never go hungry here. But on the off-chance that you do, your room rate also includes dining at all the other restaurants in Riu’s five-resort complex – more than 20 of them! -SG Riu Palace Bavaro
3. Hard Rock Punta Cana

Hard Rock Punta Cana

Because we were staying in one of Hard Rock Punta Cana‘s Rock Star Level rooms, we were expecting our share of pampering. But having a butler on call was a sweet surprise. Our personal Jeeves made restaurant reservations; ferried forgotten items from our room to our beach chaise; and chauffeured us around the huge beachfront compound in his private golf cart. -SG Hard Rock Punta Cana
2. Bahia Principe Esmeralda

Bahia Principe Esmeralda

What’s better than one all-inclusive resort? Five! Guests at Bahia Principe Esmeralda not only enjoy the resort’s four bars, two pools and two restaurants, but also have unlimited free access to all the facilities and restaurants at the four other all-incs that share the sprawling beachfront grounds. -SG Bahia Principe Esmeralda
1. Hard Rock Punta Cana

Hard Rock Punta Cana

We couldn’t have dreamed up our No. 1 all-inclusive surprise if we tried: Hats off (again!) to Hard Rock Punta Cana for their innovative Picks program, which allows guests to borrow one of 20 electric Fender guitars, an amp and headphones for 48 hours. The set-up is delivered right to your room, where you can rock out on the balcony or follow along with lessons broadcast on the resort’s TV channel. -SG Hard Rock Punta Cana

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