Todd and I just got back from a 7-day vacation at Dreams Royal Beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Our intention for this trip was pure rest and relaxation. No excursions, just sunbathing, dips in the pool, and afternoon naps, and that is just what we did! We booked via cheapcarribean.com. It’s the 2nd time we’ve used them and it is a seamless process, even with new travel protocols in place. We actually chose this resort because they offered free testing, a requirement to get back into the states, and also free two weeks accommodations should you test positive and need to quarantine.
First, air travel was basically the same as usual, except this time masks had to be worn upon entering the airport, until we arrived in the Dominican Republic and walked outside. You could take your mask off on the plane for eating or drinking, but it had to be put back on once done. The flight crew were very courteous, but they did do their rounds and made sure people were complying. Also something to note – neck gators are not allowed, it must be a mask. They provided actual masks to those wearing gators.
We arrived at the Punta Cana airport where we met with our AMStar rep and were ushered to a van with two other couples. The ride was an easy 20 minutes from the airport to the resort. We booked a preferred swim-up suite, so we dropped our luggage with the bellhop, hopped on a golf cart, and were whisked to the preferred check-in lounge, which is on the beach. We were offered a beverage and sat down to get checked in. Once that was done, our butler, Jean Carlos, showed us to our room, which was in the building right next to the lounge and closest to the beach. We were in room 4174.
The room itself definitely smelled a bit damp when we walked in, but it never felt damp and once we were there, the smell mostly dissipated, though Todd did bring a laundry freshener and he spread that on the curtains each morning. The room itself was spacious with a king bed, a pullout couch, and a chair. The bathroom had a nice shower, two sinks, and a separate room with a toilet and bidet. The patio came with two chairs and a table, two lounge chairs, and a jacuzzi tub. And of course, steps from the patio was the preferred pool, which we mostly had to ourselves the entire week! The resort was only at 30% capacity, so it was very quiet.
Every resort employee wore their masks 24/7. Guests were required to wear them inside of buildings, especially in the buffet. Some people chose to wear them outside while walking the grounds, but it was not required. The resort also provided hand sanitizer when entering restaurants. And they had special disinfecting sprayers for all of the tables and chairs in between patrons. We were satisfied with all of the steps they were taking to keep us safe.
The resort landscaping is so magical – especially at night! One of our favorite things was to stroll up to the coffee shop, and we enjoyed the walk back to our room from the evening shows. It also makes for some great photos! There was an infinity pool that looks amazing and is deeper than it looks, plus the preferred pool that is lazy river-esque and the main pool near the beach.
All of the restaurants are located near the beach and main pool. And unfortunately, the food in the buffet was sub-par. While we were there, only two restaurants were open each night for dinner on a rotating basis. The buffet was open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. The buffet is small – I can’t imagine what the lines would look like at full capacity! New protocols mean they serve you everything – so you stand in line for the grill, for the salad, etc. Breakfast was the best meal for the buffet – we found multiple options that we liked. Lunch and dinner were basically the same options – I ended up with chicken and salad every lunch and Todd went for the pasta.
The restaurants were definitely better! Our favorite meals came from the Seaside Grill, while our second favorite was the hibachi at Fusion. We also ate at Portofino, though had a less-than-stellar experience. My pasta and chicken were fine, but Todd’s slab of beef was 90% fat. We never ended up eating at the Oceana, but heard good things.
One thing that was stellar at this resort was the staff! Everyone was amazing, from hostess to waitstaff, to spa personnel to recreation and entertainment! They were always smiling, laughing, and having fun. It honestly looks like they enjoy their work – and they pull some long hours! Jeffrey D and William, the preferred pool waiters, were so attentive and friendly. They remembered our orders, joked with us, and made our poolside relaxing enjoyable.
The evening shows were some of the best resort shows I’ve seen! Even the warm-up acts were pretty amazing. The Circus act was probably my favorite, but Madonna and Queen were pretty good and entertaining as well! Our least favorite was the magic show – a little cheesy for us, so we left early to stroll the beach.
Something to note – we paid for a preferred room, which gave us access to the preferred pool, the preferred beach and top-shelf liquor. But there are no bracelets and I’m not sure how they tell who is who. I heard from others before we went that they may ask for your room key to prove you’re preferred, but that never happened with us. I don’t regret paying the extra – our room location was ideal and I loved having the pool right outside. The beach doesn’t have any bali beds, which is a bit disappointing, but they do have 3 cabanas – the downside, you have to pay to rent them for the day. The beach was clean and the water clear. The beach vendors were very aggressive – way more so than usual. We tried to be patient and understanding, knowing that for a year they basically had no income, and right now there are very few people on the beach, so it’s hard to avoid them. But the positive – there were very few people on the beach! Paradise all to ourselves! The resort is aware of the issue and they do have security on the beach keeping an eye on things.
Each morning we hit up the gym, which is located in the same section as the spa. It is broken into two sections – the cardio equipment is in the spa building, and the weights and a yoga room are in a separate building. Upon entering the gym they took our temperature. The capacity in the weight room was 4 people at a time. It isn’t large, but it has enough equipment to allow you to get a decent pump and I loved that it was glass walls with green vegetation all around! We also enjoyed a couples massage at the spa that was pretty enjoyable.
The weather in the Dominican is always amazing. We had mid-80’s every day. The day before we left we were laying on the beach when it began to rain. We were under an umbrella and Todd started to get everything together to run back to the room and I laughed and said, “give it 5 minutes!” And not 4 minutes later the rain was gone and we had gorgeous sun again.
We won’t stay at Dreams Royal Beach Punta Cana again, mostly because we feel like we already experienced it and although it was great, it wasn’t over and beyond which would make us want to go back. It was affordable, it was well maintained and the staff was amazing. If you’re looking for a place to go where you can relax and enjoy some downtime, it is a great option.