A European owned all-inclusive resort creates competition in the luxury class for long-time family favorites in the Punta Cana, Dominican Republic beach zone.
The Hacienda Dominicus is just outside the better-known Punta Cana area, situated in Bayahibe on the southeast coast next to the East National Park, just 15 minutes from the surprisingly attractive La Romana airport. The fresh-faced resort is a friendly, classy and pristine Iberostar property on a beautiful beach, generally free of the ruckus of many other all-inclusives.
The large (498 rooms), Mediterranean-style resort unfolds from its massive, open-air lobby filled with huge chandeliers and sculptures by local artists. Guests meander around enormous pools with plenty of palapas, topiaries, ponds with swans and inviting gazebos. The resort provides plenty of elbowroom in an atmosphere both elite and friendly, while delivering tremendous value for the dollar.
A standard room has a large walk-in shower or tub- either king-sized bed, sofa and table or armoire and two double beds – and is equipped with complimentary soft drinks, beer and a gallon jug of water, which are replenished every two days. Thirty-six junior suites have slightly larger living areas and pretty ocean views, making them a nice choice for families.
The dramatic, tile-splashed buffet restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers a truly amazing array of both sophisticated and simple foods. A beach grill serves continental breakfast, lunch and snacks (self-serve ice cream!) until late afternoon. Reservations are required in the evening at the resort’s specialty restaurants: a steakhouse, a Japanese restaurant (great ambience and hibachi tables), a Mexican restaurant and an upscale continental restaurant. The 24-hour complimentary bar offers self-serve coffee/espresso, popcorn and other snacks.
It is impossible to go hungry at the Hacienda Dominicus with so many choices, and a standard children’s menu is available in all restaurants except the buffet. A bar or restaurant is always open (an Iberostar signature) and service is generally good, although you may want to dust off your high school Spanish to help overcome some occasional language difficulties.
Beach lovers will enjoy the clean sand and calm, clear water (note that topless sunbathing is common), as well as complimentary catamaran sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, snorkeling and diving clinics in the pool. For an additional fee, Dressel Divers offers numerous diving and snorkeling excursions and motorized water sports. If you tire of the water, guests have privileges at nearby Casa de Campo’s famed “Teeth of the Dog” golf course.
Lucy’s Kids Club is complimentary and operates daily from 10am-6pm. The Mini Club amuses 4 to 8-year-olds with supervised treasure hunts, swimming, beach Olympics and painting. The Maxi Club for 9 to 12-year-olds adds mini discos, and shows, ping-pong, volleyball, basketball and water polo. A couple of nights each week, counselors direct the kids in swimwear fashion shows or a Disney-themed song-and-dance number for the evening entertainment. Parents can join their kids for paint-your-own pottery (small fee for the ceramics), a refreshing change from gift shop souvenirs. There also is a video game room and billiard/games room that attracts teens, and the resort’s disco opens early some evenings for “kids-only” time.
Star Friends, the energetic activities crew, encourage guests to compete in water polo, beach and pool volleyball, basketball and tennis (two lighted courts), and they lead aerobics, Spanish lessons, salsa and merengue dance lessons and other activities. This same enthusiastic group performs song-and-dance numbers as part of each evening’s entertainment, some of which involve coercing audience participation. This seemed to appeal more to the resort’s largely European clientele. After the entertainment ends at 11pm, the nautical themed Captain Nemo disco stays open until 2am for the night owls.
The Dominican Republic has long been known among savvy family travelers for Casa de Campo, one of the Caribbean’s top luxury resorts, and for the very popular all-inclusive Club Med Punta Cana. Iberostar joins their ranks in my book.
Resort Report Card
|Name:||Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus|
|Seasonal Rates:||$$ – $$$|
|Choice of Activities:||B+|
|Quality of Amenities:||A|
|Bonus:||Iberostar Hotels in general have repeatedly been voted "Best Hotel Chain" by Apple Vacations guests.|
|Note:||Good service, good value, lots of flash for this price.|
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