Dream Vacations Blog - All-Inclusive Beach Vacations
During my recent visit to Punta Cana, I had the pleasure of staying 3 nights at the Dreams Punta Cana. This hotel is located at the northern end of the Punta Cana region, technically in Playa Uvero Alto. It took nearly an hour down narrow curvy back roads for the transfer from the airport. For some, I can see how passing a donkey on a narrow two lane road might cause some anxiety, but for me, it was an enjoyable ride through the native country with an opportunity to see a side of Punta Cana away from the glamorous resorts. This opportunity will be short-lived, though, because the modern four lane highway will be completed by Christmas, cutting the transfer time in half.
I was familiar with the resort prior to arriving and had read the many mixed reviews, so my expectations were divided. Upon arriving, all of my concerns were alleviated when we were greeted with the first of many huge warm smiles and a cool fragrant towel and a welcome drink. The lobby, a large open-air palapa roof with a nice size bar, is the highest point in the resort. We arrived around dinner time and check in was a breeze. The language barrier that so many have commented on was non-existent at this resort, too.
After check in, I left my luggage with the bellhop and had a quick stroll through he resort to see what it had to offer. The resort was built in 2004 as a Sunscape and converted to a Dreams around 2008. The Explorers Teens Club looked like a blast! They offered pool tables, fuzzball, a giant rock climbing wall, a euro-trampoline, archery, pellet guns, and even batting cages. By the time I got to my room, my luggage was waiting for me. That level of efficient service was to be the standard throughout my stay.
I stayed on the third floor in a Preferred Club Junior Suite and it was one of the largest junior suites I have seen. The room was off-white with white tile floors and two aqua colored couches. There was a tube style television in the living area and a flat screen television on the wall of the bedroom thoughtfully located where you could view it from the large Jacuzzi outside on the balcony. White pillars cornered the entrance into the double-sink bathroom. The toilet and shower were located in a doored bath area to the left of the sink and a walk-in closet was to the right. The only minor issue I had with the facility was slightly inconsistent water pressure and temperature in the shower. That very well could have been a result from being on the third floor and the view more than made up for it. I did have a chance to see a standard Deluxe room. They were very small but appointed similarly to the Junior Suites. If you are at all claustrophobic, I would certainly recommend upgrading to the huge Junior Suites.
I was impressed with some of the little considerations that Dreams offered. I had heard complaints of a musty smell in the rooms in Punta Cana hotels. Although there was no hint of foul odor in my room, there was an incense burner on the sink. I was also pleasantly surprised to find an 8 oz bottle of sunscreen, which I have seen in the gift shops at other resorts selling for over $20. The bath products were of very good quality, too. The heavy robe provided was comfortable and the slippers were welcome on the cold tile in the morning.
We had a private dinner the first night on the patio at El Patio. The cool breeze coming off of the ocean was very calming and added to a wonderful ambiance of the music playing softly in the background. The food was on par with any all-inclusive dinner I’ve had. I was not impressed with the beef products, but that had nothing to do with the quality of the restaurant. Beef grown in the Dominican Republic is not treated with growth hormones or steroids, so it doesn’t suite the taste buds of most U.S. travelers. The breakfast buffet was acceptable, but I wouldn’t list it as a strength of the resort. The mangoes were absolutely amazing, though. Because we were in the Preferred Club, we were able to eat a la carte breakfast at Oceana, which I recommend. My favorite meal during my stay was dinner at Mimitsu. Don’t stay at Dreams Punta Cana without eating there. Everything was amazing. I’m not a huge fan of seafood, but the grouper the best I have ever had! Even the beef was outstanding at Mimitsu. It is at the top of my list of any restaurant I’ve eaten at while on vacation outside the country.
The coffee bar is located under the grand stairway coming from the lobby to the lower level where the buffet, theater, casino, and nightclub are located. Not only was the coffee wonderful and the wait short, the barista remembered me after the first morning and had my Americana and whole mango sitting out before I even made it to the counter. This utmost level of personal service was what made my trip so special. Waiters would smile and talk to you like they have know you forever. There were a few times when I felt bad because I thought surely I must have met them before and just not remembered. Everyone was just so friendly and is was quite apparent they enjoyed their jobs and appreciated the guests being there.
Being adults at a family resort, I was pleased with the layout of the pool. The pool snaked throughout the beautiful tropical grounds, meaning regardless of where your room is located you will have effortless access and you can easily find a nook away from the splashing kids or the occasional unruly inebriated adults.
The beach was a wide stretch of sugary white sand and perfect for those who like to take long walks. It went on for as far as the eye could see in both directions. One of the things that stuck out to me was the lack of beach peddlers that Punta Cana is so known for. During my entire stay, I never saw a single one. I will gladly barter the longer transfer for a beautiful peaceful beach. There was a lot of seaweed once you entered the water. I spoke to the manager and he said this is one of the worst seaweed seasons in decades due to the warmer winter currents last year. They did have a grounds crew dedicated to keeping the beach free of wash-up during normal hours, though.
The resort was almost at full occupancy for the duration of our stay. Other than the pool bar, which seemed understaffed for the traffic, the wait for a drink was very minimal. The drinks all tasted as they should and the bartenders had no problem making them as strong as you wanted upon request. The bar in the Preferred Club lounge offered a very impressive selection of top shelf drinks. For those of you who prefer American beer, they have it available upon request, but you have to know to ask for it because it’s not displayed anywhere. I was especially impressed with the disco, Desires. The atmosphere was the best of any all-inclusive I have been to, most likely due to the isolated location of the resort. I went all three nights and it always had a good crowd but never seemed too packed. The DJ was great and played a nice mix of retro and current hits, always keeping the dance floor hopping.
The resort itself is nice, but what made the experience memorable was the staff. Would I recommend the Dreams Punta Cana to my friends and family? Absolutely! Would I ever return? You betcha! I can’t wait to.
I just returned from another amazing vacation at the Iberostar Grand Paraiso in the Riviera Maya of Mexico. I have been to this hotel many times and it is getting better each time. You know the minute you step out of your transfer that all hotels are not created equal. The front desk and the bellman are simply wonderful and the Atrium lobby area is simply beautiful. The main hallway to the garden view room is stunning with marble floors, huge chandeliers and the painted ceiling. Once you make it to your room your are greeted by your butler and at that point it is game on! The butler will be sure that your every need is attended to. They will set your dinner reservations, spa appointments, run the hot tub and personalize your mini bar. If you need it just ask.
The main pool area is a lot of fun with a great swim up bar and a wonderful ocean view. The main area of the resort is easy to manage and the entertainment team will have activities going on throughout the day. The pool has plenty of chairs and covered cabanas and the beach cabanas are plentiful. The Grand has beach butler service so put your toes in the sand and enjoy some nachos and an ice cold bucket of your favorite beverage. Speaking of beverages you can get about any kind of beer you would like and all the liquor is top shelf. Do not forget to spend your morning at the quiet pool. You will probably have it and the the pool butler to yourself.
The food at the Ibrerostar Grand is wonderful. The lunch buffet is the best you will find and they do offer an ala carte menu. You can also order up some nachos and a cheeseburger to be delivered to you poolside. Dinner is always a treat at the Grand and I truly enjoy every one of the restaurants. The room service menu has some special dining options available after 7 pm so dinner in the room is also an option.
This hotel has been rated #1 in the industry for the past 3 years and I agree ! The Grand Paraiso opened it’s doors as #1 and like a fine wine, is just getting better with age. If you want the very best in all inclusive travel then visit the Iberostar Grand Paraiso.
A key part of a travel agents job is the ability to give you honest and first hand advice on the resorts we offer for all inclusive travel. Sure, you can read about it online, but there’s nothing quite like stepping off the plane and into the warm Mexico or Caribbean air for the first time. And while pictures speak a thousand words, we prefer to give you first hand advice on the resorts we work with the most. That’s why from Sept 18-21 Dreams Vacations turned off our computers and phones and headed down to Cancun and the Riviera Maya, Mexico.
Luck was on our side when the Iberostar Grand Paraiso, one of the top adults only all inclusive resorts in Mexico, agreed to host our company. Upon arrival we were generously upgraded to oceanfront rooms right on the beach! But our work didn’t start at check in, we started the minute we cleared customs and headed out those airport doors.
Our first stop was the Iberostar Cancun, a family friendly jewel. Luxurious and grand the Iberostar Cancun is sure to please any family with children. With a small waterpark right next to the main pools, keeping an eye on your little one’s is a breeze at this open family friendly resort.
The Riu Palace Peninsula was second on our list and this is yet another new resort that offers the ultimate in luxury. Choose from the regular junior suites for a family friendly experience or upgrade to the adults only villa’s and enjoy the child free pool and location.
Next we headed to the new Secrets The Vine for lunch. Adults only luxury at it’s best, enjoy top shelf everything, no wrist bands, no reservations and accommodations with ocean views that will take your breath away.
Our last tour on our first day in Mexico was the Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita. Known for their holistic spa and wellness techniques this stunning boutique style all inclusive resort is perfect for those seeking rest and relaxation.
Day two had us up bright and early heading first to the adults only Valentin Imperial Maya. An impressive resort that’s just the right price and offers a lush jungle feel. Perfect for those adults only travelers looking for a good deal for a honeymoon or anniversary getaway.
Our next stop was the more moderate Ocean Coral and Turquesa which turned out to be our Diamond in the rough! Offering modern rooms, never far from the beach and ocean, this family friendly resort boasted an amazing kids and even a teens club. Benefits like no dinner reservations required, the unique Route 66 bar/restaurant and only a 15 minute ride from the airport, the Ocean Coral and Turquesa is value for the money at it’s best.
We enjoyed visiting the Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun next. Another Am resort property offering wonderful pools, accommodations, unlimited luxury and a great kids club. The choices were endless and with a wider more than longer layout you were never far from the beach here.
We ended our afternoon with a stop by the Dreams Riviera Cancun, the premier Dreams in the Riviera Maya. High end family luxury is what you will find here with modern rooms, a beautiful beach and the all features the Am brand is known for, no dinner reservations, top shelf drinks and personalized service.
After a quick break at our host resort, and a nap for one or two of us, we headed to the luxury Secrets Maroma Beach resort for dinner. One of the best in adults only all inclusive travel, if you are looking for a pristine beach this is the resort for you!
Our final full day in Mexico was spent enjoying the pool, beach and sunshine. I’ve only been home for a little over two weeks and I’m already ready to go back!