Resort Spotlight: Barceló Punta Cana
By Nancy Schretter, Editor
The Barceló Punta Cana Resort in the Dominican Republic just got an extensive $14 million dollar facelift, and the results are impressive. Formerly the Breezes Punta Cana Resort, this all-inclusive property caters to families with a gorgeous beach, several large swimming pools, a children's club with its own "mini disco," and an energetic entertainment staff. The resort's expansive beachfront location and architectural design allows every room to be within easy strolling distance of the beach and the pools, making this a particularly good choice for families. Additional work and renovations are still underway, but the resort's incredible beach, amenity-laden pools, and reasonable prices currently make it an excellent choice for value-oriented families.
The 798-room Barceló Punta Cana Resort is located on a spectacular 1200 foot stretch of Arena Gorda Beach in Punta Cana. This wide beach area is one of the best in Punta Cana, with swaying palm trees, crystal clear azure water and miles of white sand. Walk to the left, and you'll find nothing for miles but swaying palm trees and a partially completed resort complex. These stretches of undeveloped white sand are increasingly rare in the Caribbean, and it's easy to find a spot to call your own. The resort's easy accessibility, just a 25-minute drive from Punta Cana International Airport, make it a good option for a short weekend escape or a week-long family vacation.
The enhancements to the Barceló Punta Cana Resort bring it up to a Premium level hotel and give its guests a more luxurious vacation feel. Deluxe rooms and suites have been remodeled and fitted with flat screen TVs and high speed Internet access, as well as plush bedding with tropically colored Caribbean themed spreads. Wireless Internet is available from all rooms and around the property at an additional charge. A second large swimming pool was added to the property and its features make it a sure hit with sun worshippers. Chaise lounge chairs are arrayed on a ledge slightly above the water on one side of the pool, while built-in ceramic loungers are in the water on the other side. A new Beach Grill restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating has also been added. In addition, the resort's theater for entertainment and events was rebuilt in a new location with a soundproof barrier between the theater and the guest rooms, something families always appreciate.
Lush vegetation and mature plantings give the grounds of the Barceló Punta Cana a tropical feel. A new children's pool with a slide is being added to the Barceló Punta Cana Resort, but families with younger children already enjoy the zero entry section of the resort's large central lagoon pool. Parents also commented that the layout of the resort was easy for them to navigate with strollers, and that it was helpful that all rooms are located close to the beach and the pool areas. The children's mini-club for ages 4-12 is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the kid's mini-disco is open from 10 - 11 p.m. each evening.
The hotel's seven restaurants were also recently renovated and upgraded to create a more upscale atmosphere. The restaurants provide families with a wide array of dining options, including French, Mexican, Italian, and traditional Dominican cuisine, as well as extensive buffets for casual dining. Our family's favorite were Paris (French), Roma (Italian), and Tokio, a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant where chefs put on a nightly Benihana-type show. Three buffet-style meals a day are also served in the hotel's Alcazar dining room. The hotels has nightly entertainment and live music, and parents will enjoy the six lounges, disco, casino and spa facilities. Babysitters are available on request with an additional charge.
The hotel's new Club Premium program gives guests the opportunity for more personalized service and easier access to resort's many dining options. The service provides individualized check-in and check-out; early check-in and late check-out without an additional fee subject to availability; a private lounge for exclusive use by Premium Club guests; concierge service; upgraded in-room amenities; and preference for all types of resort reservations including dining reservations. This service is available free of charge for those reserving suites, however, other guests may access this service for an additional daily fee. The service provides a "club within a resort" feel to your vacation stay and makes it easier to obtain multiple specialty restaurant reservations and other services. The Club Premium lounge provides a variety of tasty snacks during the day and free Internet access, as well as attentive concierge service.
Extensive water sports and recreation are available at the Barceló Punta Cana, including kayaking, windsurfing and scuba. Non-motorized watersports are included free of charge. Guests can also get active on the resort's tennis courts, basketball court, trapeze, trampoline and rock climbing wall. These last three activities are particularly popular with 'tweens and teens, as is the indoor games area. An 18 hole, par 72 championship golf course is also located 20 minutes away at the resort's sister property, Barceló Bavaro Golf.
For more in-depth information on this resort, visit the hotel's website at www.barcelopuntacana.com or contact your favorite travel agent.
If You Go: Restaurant reservations are assigned in advance based upon length of stay. If you have strong preferences for restaurants and/or reservation times, contact the resort in advance by fax (1-809-412-2288) or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) to let them know and they will try to accommodate your needs.
Try to reserve one of the renovated deluxe or deluxe oceanview rooms, or even a suite if your budget can handle it. If not, you might wish to request one of the rooms in blocks 6 or 7, which are quite close to both the beach and the main lagoon pool. Make sure to communicate your room and bedding preferences to the resort in advance via fax or e-mail, or have your travel agent do it for you. Crib requests should also be made at that time.
A number of covered palapas are available to provide shade at the beach. Even though we visited the property during high season, we had no problem securing one of these at any time of day and lounge chairs were easily obtained at the pool as well. If shade is a key factor to the success of your vacation, however, it might be wise to get down to the beach or pool early to choose your favorite spot.
If you're going to be at the resort for more than several days, stop by the tour desk in the lobby to see what's available. There are lots of exciting options for families, including an ATV tour, catamaran cruises to tropical islands, snorkeling adventures, swimming with the dolphins, horseback riding trips, and more. Also, make sure to pick up a copy of the daily activities calendar in the lobby near guest services. You'll find out about daily theater shows, exercise programs, sports activities and other events.
There are several shops at the hotel as well as the Punta Blanca Artisanal Shopping Plaza located nearby. To find the shopping plaza, walk out the front of the resort and through the main gate, then turn left and walk along the road past the neighboring resort. The shopping plaza containing small shops and artisan stands will be on your left. There are also a number of gift stands that can be found by walking along the beach more about a mile or two to the right of the resort.
The Barceló Punta Cana is sponsoring a local primary school, the Escuela El Salado. This school has one functioning classroom and a total of 89 students in grades 1-4. If you go, consider bringing down a few school supplies to drop off at the front desk and they will be taken to the General Manager's office for delivery to the school. The school can use a variety of supplies including pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, crayons, colored markers, erasers, rulers, backpacks, calculators, educational puzzles, pencil sharpeners, arts & crafts supplies, and other items.
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