- Where to Go
- The Best of the Dominican Republic
- A Nature Lover’s Dominican Trek
- The Sexiest Dominican Beaches
- Historical Dominican Road Trip
- A Dominican Culture Tour
- Carnaval and Its Masks
- Planning Your Dominican Wedding
- Dominican Adventures
- Golfing the Dominican Republic
- Dominican Music and Dance
- La Ruta del Mango
- Day-Tripping in Monte Plata
- The Best Small Resorts
The Playa Dorada beach is a very pretty golden sand stretch of heaven. The water tends to get deeper quicker here than on the southern coast of the country and tends to be colder. Children should be monitored.
While beaches in the Dominican Republic are technically public property, resorts do everything they can to try to keep “outsiders” away. All-inclusive guests are tagged with colored plastic bracelets that have their hotel’s insignia on them. If you are a nonguest and have somehow found your way onto Playa Dorada, hide your wrist and act normal; it is not uncommon for resorts to employ security guards to patrol the beach.
For the most part, all-inclusive accommodations and resorts tend to be similar to each other no matter how much they try to distinguish themselves from one another either in bragging rights or in how many stars they give themselves. It is regular all-inclusive practice to have available in a standard room the following amenities: either two doubles or one king-size bed, air-conditioning, cable TV, telephone, private balcony or terrace, full private hot-water bath, optional safety box (usually at extra cost to you), and often a small refrigerator or minibar. Any variations on the regular theme will be pointed out.
Strange hidden cost: Sometimes you have to pay a deposit for a remote control for your television. Make sure to keep your receipt or you will not be given that deposit back.
The resorts usually have a buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but you have optional specialty restaurants to choose from for dinner. Make sure these are included in your all-inclusive package before you book a reservation (which you have to do at the guest services desk), or you will end up with an unexpected cost at the end of your trip.
If you want something truly standout sensational (as far as resorts go that is), go for the boutique classification. These tend to go the extra mile in decor, cuisine, service, and comfort. Of course, your bill goes skyward as well, but if you can swing it, you’ll be happier. Because of the price tag, these boutique hotels tend to be less crowded and quieter than their all-inclusive counterparts.
When booking an all-inclusive (or boutique hotel) vacation, it is highly advisable to shop around for the best deal. There are many ways to do this. One popular way is to research on travel websites like www.orbitz.com, www.travelocity.com, www.expedia.com, or www.tripadvisor.com. The prices given here are general guidelines for high season based on double occupancy.
Viva Wyndham Playa Dorada Resort (Playa Dorada, tel. 809/686-5658, www.vivaresorts.com, US$150) is a short but very pretty walk from the beach, and the landscaping overall is especially pretty with a waterfall by the pool. Rooms are spacious and clean, and all have nice balconies. While it is a smaller three-star resort, it is one of the nicer and gets many rave reviews. Specialty restaurants include Asian (Bambu) and Mediterranean (Ibiza Beach) ones that are especially good; both require special reservations and fill up fast. It is a good idea to plan that on your arrival. The resort has a kids’ club that can help you keep the little ones active for the duration of your vacation.
The 386-room Puerto Plata Village Caribbean Resort (Playa Dorada, tel. 809/320-4012, www.puertoplatavillage.com, US$130 d) is the furthest resort from the beach. To make up for it, though, a shuttle goes from hotel to beach every 15 minutes and it is only a five-minute ride. On the sand, in the section set aside for this resort, are a bar and a grill. The resort is done in a faux-Victorian-style design in pastel colors, and the rooms are clean and comfortable. This is a good resort for kids since they have lots of activities and there are two pools. It’s a wheelchair-friendly environment. The food is basic but good.
Holiday Village Golden Beach (Playa Dorada, tel. 809/320-3800, fax 809/320-4161, www.occidentalhotels.com, US$115–140 d) was the first resort to open in Playa Dorada back in 1983 (formerly known as the Occidental Allegro Jack Tar Village). It sits directly adjacent to the Playa Dorada golf course, and the beach, which is well-maintained, is just a few short steps from the pool area. There are two pools, one for adults only that has a waterfall and swim-up bar, and the grounds are lush and beautiful. The standard rooms, dubbed “superior” here, all have a garden or golf course view, but if you opt for the “superior premium” room, you’ll be placed closer to the ocean and swimming pools. The Holiday Village is home to the new Spice discotheque and a very nice casino. The cuisine at this resort is well known to be some of the best in all of the Playa Dorada resorts.
Bluebay Villas Doradas (Playa Dorada, tel. 809/320-3000, www.bluebayresorts.com, US$75–100 d), geared toward those over 18, is located on a wonderful stretch of beach and is an ideal choice for couples wanting a romantic getaway without the kids. All rooms come equipped with the comforts you would expect from an all-inclusive, plus they are stylishly decorated and up to date since the hotel was recently renovated in a chic if not minimalist and modern style. The grounds have three pools and three tennis courts and boast an 18-hole golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones. Four restaurants will keep your culinary tastes busy with choices in international, seafood, Asian fusion, and grilled meat menus.
By far the most luxurious and elegant resort in Playa Dorada, Casa Colonial Beach and Spa (Playa Dorada, tel. 809/320-2111, www.casacolonialhotel.com, US$350–and up d) is designed in the architectural style of a colonial mansion and decorated with contemporary and colonial accents. Built in 2004, its 52 rooms, junior suites, and deluxe suites are all gloriously chic with marble floors, plush linens, and canopy beds. Amenities include Roman-style tubs and separate showers, wireless Internet in the lobby and by the pools (cable access in the rooms), flat-screen cable TV, bathrobes and slippers, and very good-sized balconies.
The spa has 13 treatment rooms, including a couple’s treatment room, outdoor spa treatments, and pilates and yoga classes. A rooftop infinity pool and four (yes, four) Jacuzzis overlook the Atlantic in a dramatic sweeping panorama. The cuisine is top rate and served in two exquisite dining rooms. Although all eight suites are named after the Garcia family, who own the hotel, to book that extra special room ask for the Don Francisco Deluxe Suite. This suite will spoil you in every way possible with its plush pillows, claw-foot tub facing the ocean, and four-poster bed fit for a queen.
The Casa Colonial is handicapped accessible to every part of the resort except the pools. To those who need accessibility in their lives, this is a huge and unfortunate oversight. However, the beach is still accessible. Casa Colonial is not an all-inclusive hotel. In its upscale way, it has taken on a quiet, cocktails-before-dinner refined mood despite its location in the thick of all-inclusive central. Still, one person’s “too sedate and boring” is another person’s “paradise and tranquility.”
© Ana Chavier Caamaño from Moon Dominican Republic, 4th edition