This is the second time we´ve been to the Iberostar Punta Cana and it has been, once again a wonderful vacation. The Punta Canta is part of a large Iberostar complex on Punta Cana and there are a few more hotels in this complex: the Dominicana, Bavaro, and Gran Hotel Bavaro. The Punta Cana and the Dominicana are basically mirrored hotels and as a Punta Cana all-inclusive guest you can use the facilities of the Dominicana. This means you have two pools, two beach restaurants, two main restaurants, two evening entertainment areas, and a wide beach front to enjoy. These two are also the most economical of the four hotels. The Punta Cana has an extra building closer to the hotel entrance, reception and main restaurant, that houses junior suites. These rooms are a bit bigger than the normal rooms and probably a bit nicer.
A few tips about the amenities and facilities. If you are not desperate for a sunburn you´ll be happy to know that the beach is well furnished with big straw sun umbrellas that can easily accommodate three people each. There are several specialised restaurants: Mexican, Fish, Steakhouse, Oriental, French and a sort of burger joint (not sure if I´m missing one). The ones I can say was disappointed with was the Fish restaurant and the burger joint. The others are ok, but don´t get your expectations too high. There are shops with souvenirs in both Punta Cana and Dominicana, and a small mall very close to both hotels. Please note that you cannot charge souvenirs to your room. Though there are two evening entertainment areas, close to the respective receptions of each hotel, it is the Dominicana that has the main theatre area where the entertainment team put on their evening shows. Beware, finding out when the shows are on, and also if and when there are going to be shows for kids, can take some digging around. The place is usually pretty crowded. It you want a more subdued, version with live band, and a few games, you´re better off in the Punta Cana. There are plenty of activities to choose from. The main diving centre in the Iberostar complex is between the Dominicana and the Bavaro hotels. Everyone there is very helpful. On the Punta Cana side of the beach is the catamaran, canoe, etc centre. Catamarans have to be booked but only one day in advance and I suggest you do so, and do it in the morning or you might find the next day is fully taken. Also, the first slot is at 9:30 but don´t expect to be sailing until 9:45 or so. 9:30 is when the team arrives. If you would like to try it but feel a little insecure you can take a lesson. Get ready to fill in a some paperwork before you can take one out. Though technically one is not allowed to "reserve" beach loungers, in practice it is a must. And beware, if you decide to sleep in you´ll be very lucky if you find loungers with shade on the beach or in the pool. If you want to secure your place on the beach be ready to get up at dawn. There are of course plenty of excursions that can be booked separately: Isla Saona, swimming with dolphins, spa treatment boat, etc.
The entertainment team is just great. Don´t miss the Michael Jackson show, even if you´re not a fan of the artist. The entertainment team really do a great job to get people going, and are very polite about leaving people alone that just want to laze on the beach while reading a book. This hotel (both Punta Cana and Dominicana) are great for kids. Everyone, in reception, the bars, the buffet restaurants, beach restaurants, or room service/cleaning, are as a rule very pleasant, helpful, good humoured, and a little extra cash for a good and attentive service is always appreciated. We thought the quality and variety of the food at the main and beach restaurants was not quite as good as last year, especially in the main buffet restaurant, but in the grand scheme of things it is not something that would in any way dissuade me from going there again. What is very nice indeed is that every day they use the big grill in the Dominicana beach restaurant to make some nice paella or grilled meat/chicken, and other things.
All in all, a fantastic place to spend a family vacation and totally recommendable. For us, it fulfils our needs for this type of vacation: beautiful beach, shade for the kids, big pool(s), plenty of activities to choose from (if you want), friendly service, and it is ideal to just lay on that lounger and devour books non-stop, with just enough breaks to pick-up another cocktail, or take a dip in the sea or the pool.