By Allison Tibaldi, Taking the Kids Correspondent
Punta Cana does not lack all-inclusive resorts. This Dominican Republic beach town is crammed with hotels that cater to vacationers seeking sand, sun and surf. Food, drink, activities and entertainment are all included in the set price. For families, this formula offers a low-stress holiday without the risk of sticker shock when it comes time to pay the bill.
These hotels tend to be large and are often quite indistinguishable. The unifying elements are swimming pools, kids club, buffet dining, nightly entertainment and a beachfront location. It’s a cookie-cutter model that succeeds in offering a one-price family vacation for a good value.
But one Punta Cana hotel has set out to change this generic formula. The Luxury Bahia Principe Fantasia Don Pablo Collection is different. Just opened in November 2016, my visit confirmed that this is the resort to book if you’re looking for out-of-this-world entertainment round-the-clock.
Evening entertainment, often at bedtime friendly hour, is a hallmark of the all-inclusive model. But at the Fantasia, creative entertainment options surround you from morning till night. From the moment you check in, you’ll be treated to jugglers, stilt walkers and costumed circus performers, all putting their talents toward pleasing guests.
The creative fantasy continues throughout the day. As you relax on your lounge chair between refreshing dips in the pool, mermaids appear, happy to pose for a photo or sprinkle magic dust on tiny travelers.
Whimsical paintings and sculptures are everywhere, giving guests a visual treat at every turn.
At 10 pm each evening, the light and sound show is so good, you’ll set your watch to see it nightly. It takes place at the poolside castle, so fantasy architectural elements add to the creative vibe.
Food is excellent but it’s the mealtime entertainment that really shines. During our dinner at the Garden Circus restaurant, a talented assortment of contortionists and jugglers seemed straight out of Cirque du Soleil, performing death-defying feats as we noshed and nibbled.
During our Italian meal at Il Paradiso, three swoon-worthy tenors serenaded us, singing arias in perfect Italian as we dined on feathery-light pasta and creamy risotto.
The creative entertainment doesn’t stop until you’re on your way to the airport. At checkout a dozen staff members, including busboys, maids and managers, broke-out in a farewell song and dance routine with the precision of a Broadway chorus line. Their genuine enthusiasm, coupled with true talent, was unforgettable.
The Resort Details
The resort is just minutes from Punta Cana’s international airport, so you won’t waste your precious vacation time getting from the airport to the hotel.
With 512 rooms, the resort is large, but the layout is thoughtful so you’ll quickly get you bearings. Butler service is included so you’ll be catered to 24-hours each day.
Teens have a private space with a movie theater, gym and spa. The kids club offers guests 4-12 hours of diversions and gives parents the opportunity to spend some kid free time, perhaps to enjoy the adults-only spa.
The Bahia Spa is an oasis within an oasis. Mamajuana is the local potent potable of choice so considering booking the Mamajuana Massage. This beverage is a combination of red wine, local rum, tree bark and herbs steeped for several days or even weeks. Dominicans swear by its medicinal effects and after my massage, I was in complete agreement.
Your masseuse will caress every inch of you with oil infused with Mamajuana. After your massage, you’ll be handed a glass of Mamajuana, the perfect liquid elixir.
For additional information, visit www.bahia-principe.com
Photo credits: the author and the resort