I only wish I'd known about this place sooner. My husband, seven-year-old daughter and I just returned from a week in this tropical paradise and we’re counting the days till we can return. The resort was beautiful and very well maintained, our room was clean and comfortable, equipped with great beds and a big shower with powerful water pressure. Thanks to another TripAdvisor reviewer, a month before our departure, I asked for a room on the second floor of the Colone building and we were all glad that I did. The Colone building is adjacent to the reception area and close to everything: beach, pool, lounge, restaurant. This is a huge resort so location matters. Friends of ours stayed so far from the center that they had to hitch golf carts home at the end of each day. Ask for a centrally-located room, especially if you have kids.
The staff were faultlessly polite, accommodating and enthusiastic – you can tell they really like working here. The folks who entertain the children in the Mini Club are tireless saints. I’ve never before seen so many grown men who seem genuinely happy to spend the day with a pack of cheering kids. They probably burn out and move to other jobs pretty quickly, but the ones I saw were fantastic with the little ones. A word of advice: please don’t stick your toddlers in the “baby club”. Several times, I saw this group at various places around the resort, the inconsolable children shrieking and crying and the staff members looking glazed and desperate. If your children are too little to take on a Caribbean holiday, you should either stay home till they’re older or leave them with relatives. It’s just plain traumatic – for the toddlers and for the staff – to stick them in the care of strangers so you can kick back on the beach. Who does that??
Back to the good stuff. The food in Samana, the main restaurant where we had all of our breakfasts and evening meals, was absolutely wonderful. I have never eaten better fish anywhere. The variety of gourmet plates on offer each night really impressed me. Fearing stomach problems, we spent the first couple of days restricting ourselves to grilled meats and veggies, but by day three I couldn’t resist any longer. Take my advice and throw yourselves in, it’s all safe and delicious and the chefs here really know what they’re doing. Of course, you have to try the chocolate bread at breakfast. The dark and white chocolate breads are among the 15 different types of breads, muffins and croissants that you’ll find lined up on the counter. My suggestion: run the white chocolate bread through the toaster a couple of times then slap a little butter on it. Have that warm with an espresso then go back for bacon and an omelette. You’ll be swimming later on so you need to keep your strength up.
Each day, we had our lunch at Celeste, the beach restaurant. It’s a breezy and informal setting, perfect for a mid-day meal. My daughter never tired of the cheeseburgers and fries, but again, I have to recommend the fish. Each day, a different variety, always cooked to perfection and served with a delicious portion of rice, grilled vegetables and a wedge of lime. With a glass of chilled rosé, what could be better?
One of the most exciting things we did was take a speed boat cruise along the coast. I can’t remember how much this cost -- $150? $180? My husband and I booked a two-seater boat and had the time of our lives ripping up and down the shore for an hour. You aren’t on your own – you have to follow a guide boat that weaves around buoys set out to protect the coral reefs. Half way through your wild ride, you drop anchor and go swimming for a half hour. Despite the fact that you’re a quarter mile away from shore, the water is only three feet deep, so fear not. Even if you don’t want to go swimming, you’ll get soaked on this trip so dress accordingly. If you’re wearing a hat, tie it on – mine flew off. Don't leave your sunglasses in your pocket.
The evening performances were always entertaining featuring especially impressive dance and trapeze routines. There’s an hour-long kids’ show before the adult show and my daughter enjoyed both every night. The performers make every effort to indulge the children in the audience. At the end of the main show, kids rush the stage for some cheers that everyone knows by heart after a couple of days at Club Med. The kids really seem to be welcomed by staff and performers alike. A child could probably climb up on stage during a dance number and find herself graciously incorporated into the routine.
I seem to be writing a book, so I’ll wrap it up here. As you can tell, we were thrilled with this holiday. Each day was spent eating, drinking, swimming and lounging. As my husband said, it was like “Groundhog Day” but in paradise instead of Pennsylvania. We’ve been to Cuba twice before – once to Cayo Largo, which was fantastic and once to Cayo Guillermo, which wasn't. After visiting the Club Med in Punta Cana, I feel no need to explore further. Best beach vacation ever!
Some specific advice:
This is a resort for people who either have kids or love kids. If you don’t fall into either category, you’ll probably be happier somewhere else. There are swarms of them everywhere, all day long and they're loud because they're happy. OH LA, CHOCOLA!
ARRIVAL / DEPARTURE FEES
Be prepared to be taxed at the Punta Cana airport: it’s $10 USD per person coming in and $20 USD per person leaving. We didn't book our trip through a travel agent so we didn’t know about these fees. We offered them Dominican pesos but they would only accept American dollars – what country doesn't accept its own currency? Arriving, we were delayed while my husband exchanged pesos for dollars as my daughter and I waited like first-timers with our luggage.
It’s one of the many excursions you can do just off-shore at the resort and while it certainly looked promising, it was spoiled by the fact that there were three boats – two for snorkelers and one for scuba divers – all moored in a very small an area. It was impossible to concentrate on looking at the fish because we were always worried about being hit in the head by one of the large boats bouncing around on the waves. There weren’t very many interesting fish in this coral reef anyway, nor was the coral anything to write home about. Not worth it in my opinion, the only flaw in our whole experience.
Club Meds are French resorts so the first language among staff and most guests is French. Most staff members who occupy face-to-face roles are fluent in French and English, so communicating with them is never a problem. I speak a bit of French so I really enjoyed practicing all week, but my daughter who only speaks English, found the language barrier frustrating during the four hours she spent in the kids’ club. If your kids speak French, they'll probably love the Kids' Club. My daughter didn’t.
While Punta Cana airport staff won’t accept anything other than US dollars, when the resort doesn't want you to know how expensive things are, prices are listed in pesos. Like many resorts and cruise ships, Club Med Punta Cana employs fantastic photographers equipped with spectacular cameras to snap pics of guests enjoying themselves morning, noon and night. This is a great service because it saves you from having to carry your camera everywhere and the quality of the professional images is really impressive. Every day, the photographers download their digital files and you can review them and save the ones you like to your room number. At the end of the holiday, an agent transfers your saved photos to a disk, which you then pay for. I didn’t see a price list posted anywhere so I was surprised on the last night of our holiday to discover that each image would cost me roughly $3 USD. I had to spend quite a bit of time narrowing down my saved files. Choose your favourites accordingly.
When I spoke to the Club Med representative over the phone, I was told there was never any tipping at Club Med, period. Club Med’s face-to-face staff are called “gentils organisateurs” or GOs and the majority of them come from Europe and North America. While I’m sure they’re paid a decent wage for their services, I’m not sure if the compensation for the grounds keepers and chamber maids is quite so generous. I just can’t feel good about myself if I don’t tip those folks -- they work hard, so do the right thing and bring some extra cash.
Feel free to contact me at: [--]. Bon voyage!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Discover the Dominican Republic in this all-inclusive family resort, designed over a long white-sand beach, considered to be the finest in the world. Travel to Club Med Punta Cana with your family and enjoy a carefree all-inclusive vacation in this resort which flourishes beside a lagoon surrounded by magnificent grove of coconut palms. Fun moments filled with memories await your kids at Club Med world-famous children's clubs with dedicated activities and sports for children and teenagers from morning to evening, for each age group, and all coordinated by qualified and enthusiastic professionals. This newly redesigned resort has something for everyone, with amenities such as: Baby Club Med™*, a new Spa* with private pool access, exclusive private Oceanfront Family Suites, new dedicated programs for Mini Club Med™ including Le Petit Tennis(R), circus school and Baby Gym(R), Passworld for teens, and more. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with BookIt.com and Club Med so you can book your Club Med Punta Cana reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Club Med Punta Cana Hotel Punta Cana
- Punta Cana Club Med
- Club Med Dominican Republic