Getting my Hard Rocks off! It’s tough to choose my favorite Hard Rock resort that I have stayed at thus far — Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Maya or Punta Cana — but I will say that the all-inclusive in the Dominican Republic takes the cake as far as beaches go.
The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana‘s sprawling grounds grace the southeastern shore of the Dominican, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea. The white sand and turquoise waters don’t get any better than this! Zero rocks in the water and purely soft sand at your feet.
Each morning, after a scrumptious international buffet breakfast at The Market restaurant, I eased into the day’s festivities by starting off with a swim at the private beach. The hotel has chairs set up for guests on the sand, with or without little huts to shade you from the sun. After some tranquil sea time, the wind whipping my beach hair into shape, and about 100 photos or so (hard to resist!), it’s time for a drink.
The pool scene is more fun for people-watching once you break the bar seal (I try to limit my Miami Vices to two a day. Sugar bombs!) and the tunes are blarin’ of course, as it is the Hard Rock. I hit up three pools out of the thirteen but my pool of choice is generally always the one with the swim-up bar. Shots of rum, mainly the country’s alcoholic crown jewel Mamajuana — a Dominican concoction of rum, wine and spices soaked in bottles filled with bits of tree bark — were the most popular shooters offered by the locals to keep tourists sauced in between Presidente beers.
My Caribbean King Suite was quite spacious to relax in after a long day of drinks and activities, and all of the rooms at the Hard Rock resorts have large hydro spas (that can fit about six!) and private balconies. The walk-in shower with dual shower heads was also a highlight, it was like having my own private spa.
Two reasons why the Punta Cana resort is more dangerous than the others I have visited? Shopping. And the Casino. Drinks are already flowing (it’s an all-inclusive, remember!), so there really isn’t an excuse to give yourself for losing your money at the tables like one does in Vegas with the ol’ “Well, at least I drank for free all night” self-assurance.
The numerous shops (with enticing window displays) feature many luxury brands in resort wear, sunglasses and footwear. Everything is high end and beautifully designed, it really does have a bit of a Vegas hotel vibe in certain areas of this grand resort. And there are nine restaurants to choose from! Not to mention a golf course.
After a few days of exploring the hotel grounds, it was time to venture out for an excursion. I chose the Scuba/Snorkel trip from a vendor in the hotel lobby but actually wound up doing neither. Hey, I wanted a boat ride with options! The cruise sailed off from La Romana about an hour southwest from the hotel and included a stop at the tropical island, Isla de Catalina, which was one of the highlights of my trip. This uninhabited Caribbean island defines paradise and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect to show off it’s natural beauty that day.
Day four and five I finally made it to Body Rock, the massive modern gym, to work off all the daiquiris. Normally, that’s one of my favorite things to do at the Hard Rock hotels. Vacation to me is working out every day because I finally have ample time. And I feel less guilty splurging for the rest of the day. They offer a variety of daily classes as well for the ultra motivated.
I highly recommend December travel, the weather was consistently perfect and the hotel’s holiday decor made it extra festive. Overall it was a beautiful first trip to the Dominican, a five-star resort suitable for couples or families with endless things to do for all different personalities.
Can’t wait for the opening of Hard Rock Cabo!