We've done several all-inclusive vacations in the Caribbean. These make family great vacations, honeymoons if sitting on the beach is what you have in mind, and perfect long weekend getaways.
For value, it's hard to beat Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. The beaches and resorts are beautiful and so affordable. When we need a budget-friendly beach getaway, this has become a go-to destination for us. There's no shortage of all-inclusive hotels, but we have a clear favorite so far.
The Reserve Paradisus Palma Real is ranked one of the top luxury resorts in Punta Cana and it didn't disappoint. It is family-friendly, but we went as a couple and barely noticed any children. There was a kids zone where I think they mostly played. We were there in April, but I imagine this could be different during school holidays.
The other thing that may not be right for everyone is that the resort is not directly on the beach. We didn't mind this at all because there was always a golf cart waiting outside our room to take us to a private beach area for the Reserve guests. We also enjoyed having a jungle view.
The Reserve is one of several Melia properties within the same property. The good news is that Reserve guests have access to restaurants at the Paradisus Palma Real as well so it's hard to get bored. The Paradisus is a great option if you'd prefer to be on the beach. We preferred the smaller, more intimate environment at the Reserve.
We stayed in the standard room, which was not standard at all! The Paradisus Suites have a sitting area, bedroom, bathroom, and our room had an outdoor jacuzzi on our balcony. Every day, the fridge was restocked with water, sodas, beer and snacks. We also enjoyed ordering room service for appetizers while we got ready for dinner (all included).
Many all-inclusive resorts have terrible food, but not at the Reserve. We ate sushi, delicious steak, and even splurged on dinner one night at the only á la carte restaurant, Passion by Martin Berasategui. We had around 10 courses with a wine pairing and it was fantastic.
Even though we were at the beach lot during the day at the Paradisus Palma Real, we often went back to the Reserve for meals, as the food was much better there in our opinion and there were no lines. I loved having fresh juices every morning and the Dominican has amazing coffee. We made dinner reservations for every night with the help of the concierge.
We never left the property because there was so much to do there. Non-motorized water sports are included and so is a quick snorkeling trip to the nearby reef. We enjoyed going to the spa to relax and there was no additional charge to use the facilities like the sauna and mineral pools.
For the most part, we relaxed on the beach and in the pool at the swim up bar. Also, if deciding between the Reserve or Paradisus, the Reserve had better spirits and more of a selection. If you are a golfer, green fees are complimentary at the nearby Cocotal Golf and Country Club.
With all-inclusive rates starting below $300 a night for two people, The Reserve is hard to beat for the value. If you must have an ocean view or prioritize an adults-only experience, this may not be the resort for you. What made the Reserve stand out to us was the impeccable service. After only a day or two, the staff knew us by name and treated us like family, always making sure to check in and see if there's anything we needed.
This was a welcomed escape from a busy few months at work and we'd go back if we get the chance.
For more travel inspiration, visit sanaratravels.com/blog.