RESORT REVIEW

The Reserve at Paradisus Punta Cana

The Main Pool at The Reserve at Paradisus Punta Cana

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

When Benjamin was born in the summer of 2017, it didn’t take long before we were ready to get away and enjoy some quality beach time as a family of 4. Having most recently visited the beaches of Mexico, we were ready to try something different for this vacation. At the time, we didn’t have a particular destination in mind. But the one thing we did know is that we wanted to be at an all-inclusive resort. After doing some research, Punta Cana seemed like the perfect choice.

As a travel agent, I typically choose to book my own travel. But occasionally I come across deals offered by other suppliers that are just too good to pass up. This was one of those times. Through Costco Travel, we were able to book a week-long stay at the highly-rated The Reserve at Paradisus Punta Cana at a price comparable to properties of far less quality. So we booked it almost immediately.

Arriving at The Reserve at Paradisus Punta Cana

When we arrived at The Reserve at Paradisus Punta Cana, we were greeted at the entrance by a friendly bellman who offered to hold our luggage for us as we checked in. We were then escorted inside for our private check-in. The VIP lounge area included a comfortable living room with TVs and an assortment of snacks for guests to enjoy. As we sat down to go through the check-in procedures, a waitress brought us each a refreshing tropical beverage. Meanwhile, several of the staff members playfully engaged with the boys. We immediately knew that this resort was the right choice for our family! The check-in process went quickly and smoothly, and before we knew it we were boarding one of the resort’s large golf cart-like trams and being whisked away to our room.

The Room

The room category that we booked for our stay at The Reserve at Paradisus Punta Cana was the Family Concierge One Bedroom Suite. This turned out to be the perfect option for a family of our size. When we arrived at our building, we were greeted by our Family Concierge, Jhordan. After a brief introduction, Jhordan escorted us to our room. Once inside, he got us familiarized with our surroundings and explained to us the services that he would be able to provide to us throughout our stay. These included: making dinner reservations, customizing our mini bar to fit our wants/needs, reserving a bed/palapa fat either the pool or beach each day, and preparing the bathtub for special occasions.

The room itself offered a bedroom with a king bed; a separate living area with a sleeper sofa, tv, and mini bar; a large Jacuzzi tub; and a bathroom complete with double-sinks, plenty of counter space, and a nice large shower. While the room was definitely not “modern,” and it showed some signs of wear and tear in places, we didn’t mind because it was clean and comfortable.

Other important things to note:

 

  • The air-conditioning worked perfectly throughout our stay!
  • Our bed was extremely comfortable.
  • We had no issues with hot water or water pressure in the shower.
  • WIFI was strong and consistent at all times in the room and throughout the resort.

The Resort

The Reserve at Paradisus Punta Cana is the small, family-friendly boutique resort within the larger Paradisus Punta Cana complex. Guests who stay at the Reserve have access to all of the amenities at Paradisus Punta Cana. However, those staying at the larger resort do not necessarily have similar access to the Reserve.

The physical location of the Reserve is tucked back away from the rest of the Paradisus Punta Cana complex, which makes it feel like its own resort. The layout of the Reserve itself is relatively compact. There’s the lobby & Gabi Club at one end, the kids club at the opposite end, and the accommodation buildings forming a perimeter around the Reserve’s pool complex and the beautifully manicured grounds.

Getting around the resort can be done in several ways: by foot, by bike, or by tram. (The bikes are complementary and stationed at various locations throughout the property.) Getting from the Reserve to the main lobby area of the larger Paradisus Punta Cana can easily be done on foot in just a couple minutes. However, a trip to the beach or to the majority of the resort’s restaurants is closer to a 10-minute walk. As a result, many people choose to utilize the  trams that make their way throughout the property both day and night. We typically opted to walk as we didn’t mind the exercise and enjoyed the beautiful scenery along the way.

The Restaurants

Breakfast

One of the biggest disappointments that we experienced during our stay was that the Gabi Club, the Reserve’s highly-regarded buffet restaurant, was closed the entire time we were there. This meant that every morning for breakfast, we had to either dine inside at the much smaller Vento or venture all the way out to Gabi Beach for an open-air dining experience similar to what we would have experienced if the Gabi Club had been open.

More often than not we chose Vento because of its convenience to our suite. The breakfast buffet at Vento offered a wide variety of options – eggs, breakfast meats, pancakes/waffles, hashbrowns, cold cuts, breads, fresh fruits, yogurts, and much more. However, the best part of the breakfast buffet, for me at least, was the omelet station.

Lunch

For lunch, our options were once again limited by the Gabi Club’s temporary closure. Since we spent the majority of our time on the beach, the logical choice for us would have been the buffet at Gabi Beach. Unfortunately, we usually found the food here to be underwhelming. So as a result, we would oftentimes walk back to the Reserve section and eat instead at the Hydro Grill. Located next to the Reserve pool, Hydro Grill serves a small selection of a la carte options on an outdoor terrace. My favorite selections here were the hamburgers and quesadillas. The boys loved the fact that they could also get soft-serve ice cream here throughout the day!

Dinner

For dinner, we were able to try a new restaurant every day of our vacation! This is where it’s really nice to have access to a family concierge. On the day of our arrival, Jhordan talked us through all of our dining options and then booked all of our dinner reservations before they were able to “sell out.” Throughout the week, we dined at Mole, The Grill, Fuego, Vento, Aqua, and Bana. Across the board, the food and ambiance at the restaurants was fantastic. In fact, there’s not a single one that I would discourage someone from visiting. With that said, however, our favorites were by far The Grill and Bana.

What truly made our dining experience at the Reserve at Paradisus Punta Cana special were the people. Without exception, we always received prompt and friendly service from our wait staff. In addition, many of them would go out of their way to engage with the boys and make their dining experience special. This extra effort made life a whole lot better for everyone involved! Pro Tip: our best meals were always those in which we took the recommendation of our waiter/waitress. They always steered us in the right direction when we asked for their advice!

The one recommendation that I would make to the entire Paradisus Punta Cana resort would be to expand the children’s menu. No matter where we dined, the kids menu never changed. Even for a picky kid like we have, there’s only so much pizza, pasta, and chicken fingers one can eat before wanting something different. Otherwise, the food, service, and ambiance of the various dining options throughout the resort were very good!

The Beach

Whenever we take a tropical vacation, we prefer to spend the majority of our time at the beach. With that in mind, we prefer properies that are located on prime stretches of sand. Bavaro Beach, which is where Paradisus Punta Cana is located, is known for being one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. 

One of the perks of being a Reserve guest is having access to a private section of beach. To make it even more special, Jhordan would reserve a beach bed and palapa for us each morning. If the resort were crowded, this would be an incredible perk. But in all honesty, we were there during the low season, so there were always plenty of  beach beds, lounge chairs, and palapas for anyone who wanted one.

Beach Quality

As for the beach itself, I was immediately struck by the expansiveness of Bavaro Beach. I also loved the fact that the soft white sand never seemed to get hot to the touch, which makes it perfect for a family with little kids.

The biggest disappointment about the beach during our stay was the large amount of sargassum in the water. Each morning it would wash ashore and collect along the sand, which can become unsightly and a little smelly if left to rot under the sun. While I fully understand that it’s all a part of nature, it should be noted that other resorts around us seemed to be doing a better job than Paradisus of cleaning up the sea grass from their shoreline each morning. As a result, we sometimes found ourselves wandering down the beach a little ways just to get into the water. This is definitely something the resort needs to improve upon.

The Pools

The Reserve at Paradisus Punta Cana has a very nice pool complex that consists of two separate pools. The first is a large recreational pool, which is located closest to the Gabi Club. It includes amenities such as a swim-up bar, built-in loungers, a hydrotherapy circuit, and a fountain. It is also where many of the water-based activities take place. The second is a smaller kids pool area that is geared more toward families. The water here is much shallower in general, with varying depths to accommodate children of all ages. For Ethan, the highlight of the kids pool was the little animal slides. While he was initially nervous about them, he eventually got up his courage and had a blast sliding down. The kids pool area also features a small baby pool which was nice for us with Benjamin.

Both pools are surrounded by plenty of comfortable loungers and beds that can either be reserved through your family concierge or taken on a first-come, first-served basis. Since the resort was nowhere close to full during our stay, we never had issues finding a comfortable place to rest and relax. Drink service is also available at both pool areas. However, we found that it was usually faster to just go to the bar and order a drink ourselves.

The Entertainment

One thing that I really appreciated about staying at The Reserve at Paradisus Punta Cana was its laid-back vibe. Unlike some other all-inclusive resorts, it’s not the kind of place where you’ll find DJ music blaring all day long and people partying everywhere you look. Rather, the resort’s daily activities are much more family oriented and low-key in nature. For example, one day Genevieve did a painting class by the pool. Another day I learned how to stand-up paddleboard in the pool.

Nightly Entertainment

Most evenings, the resort offers live shows for guests to enjoy. And for the most part, they were very good during our stay. While we were there, we saw the Dominican show, the Michael Jackson show, the Lion King show, and the “Stomp”-type show. By far, our favorite was the Lion King show! It was set to the soundtrack from the Broadway musical, and the costumes and choreography were fantastic! I give so much credit to the entertainment team at Paradisus because they have some talented entertainment staff, and they’ve put together some very professional shows compared to other all-inclusive entertainment we’ve seen over the years.

Then, after the shows are over, live musicians come out to keep the fun going into the night. With young kids, we weren’t able to stay out too late, but from what we experienced, the musicians were always very good, and people seemed to be having a great time!

Adult Activities

One night during our stay, we entered a charity raffle and won two massages from the resort’s Yhi Spa. With limited time, we didn’t get to take full advantage of all the spa’s complimentary amenities. However, our treatments themselves were some of the best we’ve ever received. We’d highly recommend a visit there if you’re looking for some relaxation and pampering!

Other entertainment options that we did not get a chance to take advantage of include a Wine Bar, a night club/lounge, a casino, and an adventure course (to name a few).

The Service

As good as the property and amenities are, what really sets The Reserve at Paradisus Punta Cana apart from some other resorts that we’ve visited in the past is the level of service we received throughout our stay. So much of this service was provided by our family concierge Jhordan. He constantly went out of his way to make sure we had everything we could possibly want or need. Then there was Emilio at the beach club who took excellent care of us every day and became best buddies with Ethan. At the restaurants, our servers went out of their way to do everything they could to make our meals as special as possible. Sometimes that even meant entertaining the boys so Genevieve and I could enjoy our meals. Across the board, it was clear to us that The Reserve at Paradisus Punta Cana prides itself on personal service.

VIP Treatment

Here are just a few of the ways that the staff made us feel special throughout our stay:

  • When we first arrived in our room, the resort provided the boys with all sorts of goodies to make their stay a special one. These included towels, hats, slippers, t-shirts, a drawstring bag, and children’s bath supplies.
  • One evening the room service attendant randomly brought us a bottle of champagne and fresh fruits, just because…!
  • Another night we came back to find that a special bubble bath with balloons had been prepared for Ethan, which he got super excited about.
  • Since Genevieve and I were celebrating our 5-year anniversary, Jhordan arranged a special dinner/dessert for us one night. Then, when we returned to our room we found that he had prepared our jacuzzi for us once again. This time, however, it was with candles and champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries!

It’s experiences like these that really made us feel valued and want to return again in the future.

Final Thoughts

There’s so much more that could be written about our amazing stay at The Reserve at Paradisus Punta Cana. But to sum it all up, it makes for a perfect vacation destination for families with small children!

Some parents may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned the Kids Zone at all. Going into the week, we fully intended to utilize the services there. And in all honesty the place looked awesome! But once we got to the resort, we just found ourselves having so much fun with the boys that we didn’t want to send them away. However, if we were to ever return again, I wouldn’t hesitate to put my kids in there. The staff seemed great, the facility was nice and clean, and the reports that we heard from other families who did utilize the Kids Zone were nothing but positive.

If you’re looking for a resort where you can receive 5-star luxury that caters to the whole family, then the Reserve at Paradisus Punta Cana is the resort for you!

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