When you land at Punta Cana’s international airport, you get the impression of a busy destination, with plenty of flights coming or going and parked. But then everything decompresses very fast – the main immigration hall is like a giant palapa hut, and the immigration ladies taking your photo are dressed up in traditional costume. The van taking you to your resort is quickly out of the airport area and you find yourself moving along uncrowded roads toward the oceanfront strip where your resort waits. This easternmost resort mecca of the Dominican Republic offers everything from spa luxury to golf and water sport, dining and shopping, but still spread out so there’s no feeling of overbuilding. Punta Cana’s success in drawing an international and regional traveling audience seems set to continue with some recent renovations, and more hotels and attractions arriving in the months ahead.
The Punta Cana Hotel – this hotel is just one location within the wider Punta Cana Resort & Club. You may notice an aquaerobics session taking place as you pass by the pool, or observe someone learning the merengue, but by and large The Punta Cana Hotel is blissfully free of the non-stop hyperactive atmosphere too often the rule at resorts of this size. Space and design contribute much to this achievement of a relaxed and tranquil environment: accommodations are spread out over a considerable amount of acreage in two or three-story buildings that usually require taking a golf cart or the hotel’s internal shuttle to reach from the main lobby, restaurants or other points such as the water sports complex, golf club buildings or spa. There were many things we appreciated about this svelte and low-key resort: be it the piano bar and the fine blues/jazz pianist who plays there in the evenings, and of course the white-powdered, solitary stretches of beach that lie north and south of the hotel’s ocean front. Do as much or as little here as you please — spend time by a pool, by the waves, at the spa out on the 18-hole golf course, or by a secluded lagoon in the eco-reserve park. The staff are genuinely courteous and knowledgeable about the facilities, the concierge goes out of her way to solve your questions about shopping, banking or any other detail you may have that needs expert attention.
There are some 355 rooms here, each set inside separate nature casitas, beach casitas, junior deluxe rooms spread around the length of its very expansive oceanfront acreage. Nestled in private jungles, the casitas offer bedrooms with a king-size bed and bedrooms with two full-size beds, along with a common area that includes a living/dining space and a garden or terrace where you can luxuriate in privacy between activities outdoors. All the casitas were renovated in late 2007, and have a very fresh, state-of-the-art feel with their updated rich wood furnishings, flat screen television and even video baby monitors if you are traveling with new family arrivals. The staff are helpful with any requests and rooms are kept constantly restocked with bottled water, an essential item for long hours in the Dominican sun.
ClubHotel Riu Bambu – this property reopened its doors in June 2010 after renovations. Situated on one of Punta Cana’s most spectacular beaches at Arena Gorda Beach, the hotel has redecorated public areas and improved its facilities and service to cater for family holidays and fulfil children’s needs. All rooms have been completely refurbished. Of the 560 rooms in the hotel, 72 of them are now new family rooms, with occupancy up to 2 adults and 3 children. They are bigger than standard double rooms and are equipped with a sofa bed. The ClubHotel Riu Bambu forms part of the RIU Punta Cana Resort, which consists of 5 resorts: hotel Riu Palace Punta Cana, hotel Riu Palace Macao, ClubHotel Riu Bambu, hotel Riu Naiboa and hotel Riu Taino. The 24-hour All Inclusive by RIU service includes a wide variety of bars and restaurants with a gastronomic selection featuring a new Asian restaurant, a new Italian restaurant and a new 24-hour Sports Bar with game tables and flat screen TVs. It also offers snacks and unlimited beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks) 24 hours a day. The mini-bar and the room’s liquor dispensers are regularly restocked. Also providing a variety of service and entertainment at Riu Punta Cana Resort is the “Caribbean Street”, where clients will find “The Eternal” spa centre with an extensive menu of beauty treatments, massages, etc. On the Caribbean Street there is also a pizzeria, gym, photo studio and lab, billiards, an assortment of shops and the “Pacha” night-club. The ClubHotel Riu Bambu allows families to play sports such as table tennis, water polo, volleyball, all sorts of water sports, the use of 2 floodlit tennis courts, 1 multipurpose sports pitch or to try 1 introductory scuba diving lesson in the pool