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My husband and I recently took our first trip to the Dominican Republic, making it our 18th country to visit together, and absolutely loved it. From the palm tree lined beaches to the friendly staff at our all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana, it was the kind of trip you don’t want to end. We visited for a conference, so spent most of our time at the resort. For that reason, I thought I’d share with you this Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: An All-Inclusive Resort Review.
How to get to the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is located on the same island as Haiti in the Caribbean. If you’ve never been to the Dominican, it was fairly easy to get to from Dallas, TX. Nonstop flights from DFW to Punta Cana (PUJ) range from 5.5 to 6.5 hours. Flights from Miami are a hop, skip, and a jump – only 2 short hours, and flights from New York are 3.5 hours. Our shuttle bus from the airport to our resort was about 20 minutes.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Punta Cana is on the far east side of the island, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea. It is a gated area, with 30 miles of gorgeous beaches that are lined with beautifully spaced palm trees. Activities abound from zip-lining to golfing (10 courses, to be exact) to a relaxing day at the spa to all the water sports your heart desires. There are many different accommodation types – from small boutique hotels to large family friendly and adult only all-inclusives. If it’s a condo or house you’re looking to book, Punta Cana has those too! View them here.
All-Inclusive in Punta Cana
There are so many resorts in Punta Cana, it can be overwhelming to pick one. Thankfully since we were attending Punta Cana for a conference, the resort was chosen for us. We would 100% stay at our resort again! I want to bring our three kids back to explore more as a family.
Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana and Hyatt Zilara
We stayed at the Hyatt Ziva in Punta Cana for a quick trip of three nights. The Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara are sister properties that are actually connected by the fitness center and conference rooms. One is family friendly (image below on right), and the other is adults-only (left side in image below).
If you’re looking for a romantic getaway, stay at the adults-only Hyatt Zilara. If you have the kids with you, then stay on the Ziva side. If you’re an adult staying on either side, you have access to all of the restaurants and bars on both sides. Kids are only allowed on the Ziva side, and this is monitored by security guards.
The property has it’s own waterpark! I would love to bring the kids here, as they are big waterpark fans.
The staff is amazing. You will be greeted everywhere you go with a hand over the heart and a big warm smile!
Make sure to walk around the resort at night – it’s beautiful.
The Beach at Hyatt Zilara and Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana
A few things we loved about the beach at Hyatt Zilara/Ziva – the beach was wide. The big wide beach made for great beach walks! The seaweed wasn’t too bad, and there was a crew daily working on combing the beach. It was a calm beach, which would be great if you had younger kids who wanted to swim. We very much enjoyed that the beach was private. We weren’t hassled by anyone trying to sell us anything on the beach.
A couple things that we’d change – the water was a little too cold for us (it was February); we know this isn’t the Dominican’s fault! The sand wasn’t soft or white, like some of the other Caribbean islands we’ve been to or Australia, but it was still pretty. It was super windy on the beach, which only really was an issue early in the morning when it was cooler. During the day the wind was nice, as it kept the bugs away.
You need to wake up before the sun at least one morning to catch one a sunrise over the ocean. It is such a peaceful way to start the day, and you might be joined by a handful of other hotel guests. If you are used to warmer weather, remember to grab a towel from your room to use as a blanket. The wind makes it chilly (for us Texans who love hot weather) on the beach in the morning.
Can you see the sun just above the horizon in the middle pic below?!
Rooms at Hyatt Ziva
Even though we were on a kid-free getaway, my husband and I stayed in a room on the Ziva (family side). Since we were visiting with a conference, we weren’t able to pick our room. I will never complain about someone else booking a room for me at a resort in the Caribbean though! It was surprisingly nice to each have our own bed for a few nights! Ha!
The beds were comfortable and the view never got old. Everything from the mini bar was all-inclusive. The maid staff noticed our favorite drinks and snacks the first day and would overly replenish them each day. I loved the attention to detail!
Rooms on the Ziva side range from a Junior Suite to a Swim Up Suite to a one bedroom Master Suite.
Drinks at Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara
Both resorts have a coffee shop that also serves juices and smoothies. For adult beverages on the family side, there is a sports bar, rum bar, and swim-up bar. For adult beverages on the adults-only side, they have the same options. We liked the martini bar (One Eyed Cat) for the specialty cocktails and live piano music.
Food at Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara
If you’re an adult staying on either side, you have access to the 26 different bars and restaurants. Kids staying on the family side (Ziva) have access to 8 different restaurants.
The restaurant options include 24 hour room service, Caribbean, Asian, Italian, French/Polynesian (adults), Indian (adults), steakhouse (adults), pizzeria (adults), buffet, and a food truck at the waterpark.
If you visit El Mercado (buffet on family side) in the evening, they have a station where you can build your own charcuterie platter! We were impressed with the selection for breakfast and dinner at the buffet. Our favorite restaurant was Waves, the steakhouse.
Gym at Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara
The gym at Hyatt Ziva/Zilara gets it’s own special section in this blog post because it is hands down the BEST gym we’ve seen at any hotel or resort. My husband and I have been to over 200 hotels/resorts in 18 different countries and this gym takes the prize!
The gym is a massive 14,000 sq ft with a cardio room, cycle room, boxing area, free weights room, and equipment room. Whatever exercise program you do, they will most likely have the machine or equipment you need! I enjoy working out, even on vacation, and this gym got me excited to go each day.
Leaving Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
When leaving the Dominican, please please please allow ample time at the airport! We nearly missed our flight and arrived to the airport three hours before our departure time. This was NOT during peak travel time for this destination. There were long lines everywhere – at bag drop, security, and customs. I think we waited in at least five different lines.
Overall our trip Punta Cana was excellent. The Hyatt Ziva/Zilara is definitely a resort we would visit again.