My last visit to Punta Cana was about 7 years ago and I was curious to see how the area has evolved. At that time of my first visit very few people, with the exception of the front desk staff, spoke more than a few words of English. The majority of vacationers were from Europe and the ride from the airport was a bit bumpy and seemed to take forever. It felt more like Mexico 20 years ago and you knew you were in a foreign country.
A few weeks ago my sister-in-law, Carla, and I visited the island again. Although our time there was short, just 3 nights, it was enough to get a feel for the area and witness the changes. Most notably, almost all the staff spoke English, the exception being the maids and cooks who have little guest interaction. In fact, those whose jobs were customer care related spoke nearly perfect English. On this visit, there were just as many, if not more, visitors from North America as from across the pond. The road from the airport was very smooth and it was only 25 minutes before we reached the resort. I should also mention that I had a direct flight from Milwaukee of about 4.5 hours, which really cut down on travel time. These charters are offered during the winter travel season. Otherwise, travel to Punta Cana requires a plane change.
The one thing that hasn’t changed in Punta Cana is the shockingly beautiful sugar-white beach. The water is so brightly blue, it doesn’t seem real. While Punta Cana is on the Atlantic Ocean, the sand and beach are reminiscent of the Caribbean Sea. The Punta Cana area is often referred to as the “coconut coast” due to its hundreds of swaying coconut palms scattered along the 30 miles of super fine white sand. If you love to spend time on the beach and be able to walk for miles it’s the perfect destination. The local tour operators offer a handful of day trips around the area but it is mostly known as a beach destination with very few towns to visit and explore.
We had the pleasure of staying at the beautiful Iberostar Grand Punta Cana – http://www.iberostargrandbavaro.com. The Iberostar Grand Hotel Bavaro opened in October of 2008 and is an adult only property. Most of the guests were couples but a fair percentage were golf groups and friends on vacation together. The resort has 260 suites and every room has butler service. The rooms have a casual elegance that is extended throughout the resort. Five restaurant choices and 24 hour room service ensure that you’ll never go hungry. Reservations are required at the restaurants and can be made upon your arrival for the entire stay.
The resort includes golf at its own 18-hole P.B. Dye Golf Course. The number of complimentary rounds is dependent on how many nights you stay. I don’t golf but wanted to see the course. The staff at the golf course was very gracious and picked us up to give us a tour of the course. We even got to take a few swings. If you are a golfer this course and the Punta Cana area is well known for its golf courses.
I do “spa” however. The two-story oceanfront spa is one you won’t want to miss. You also have the option to get a massage on the beach in a thatched-roof semi private terrace, where you can hear the ocean waves. I choose the beachside massage and was not disappointed. The sound of the waves blended with the general beach noise and I had no trouble relaxing.
The entertainment staff did an outstanding job. Several staffers, all of whom would know you by name within the first day, are employed for the sole purpose of making sure you are entertained and enjoying your stay. The pool was active and there were some contests and games you could partake in, but it was all done with a touch of class and you were never hassled to join in. I can attest that the mojitos at the swim up pool bar are very delicious.
The entertainment continued into the evening, sometimes with music outside or karaoke in the nightclub. I was just getting up my courage to sign up for karaoke and they closed it down for the night. Whew, I just escaped that one!
The Iberostar Grand Hotel Bavaro is situated next to 3 other Iberostar resorts. The Grand Bavaro is the most luxurious of the resorts, and it offers use of all three adjoining resorts. You can walk for miles and miles in either direction. For those that want to do a little shopping for souvenirs, there is a little market just down the beach.
I would recommend this resort to anyone looking for an upscale experience that isn’t stuffy or formal.