Dominican hideaway that offers everything you could wish for
JON MACPHERSON enjoys a fun-packed family getaway on the picturesque Caribbean island
AHASSLEFREE vacation for all the family. It’s the holy grail of holidaymaking which many travel companies, tourist destinations and resorts claim to provide, but very few truly deliver. A place where parents and children can equally relax, enjoy and soak up everything there is to offer without concerns.
And then there’s Paradisus Palma Real – a slice of family heaven along one of the most idyllic beaches in the world.
Arriving at the resort after a comfortable British Airways flight, the award-winning resort in the Dominican Republic proved to be a destination that defies expectation and fulfils your every want and desire – including ones you didn’t even think you had.
Fresh from a £7.5 million refurbishment at the end of last year, we were treated to the new ‘family concierge’ concept equipped with 42 luxury suites, private lounges, restaurant, bar, and beach.
This is perfect for parents and children to have their own separate space with all the amenities of home, and the luxuries, comforts and facilities expected from one of the best resorts in the Caribbean.
With a Kids Zone boasting childcare, a toddler room, games and play area and climbing wall to name but a few, parents with young children will have no problems keeping them entertained.
And parents and adults are afforded just as much variety, with private and serviced beaches, three pool areas with bars to unwind in, or tennis and golf facilities, a health club and a gym with studio classes for the more active camper.
Another string to Paradisus Palma Real’s bow are the unique ‘life enrichment’ classes, which teach a wide variety of fun skills from salsa dancing to cigar making.
The food at the resort is phenomenal and unparalleled in its quality, variety and service.
There are more than a dozen restaurants catering for every palette, including the ‘Rare’ steakhouse, ‘Vento’ Mediterranean, ‘Fuego’ Latin infusion, ‘Blue Agave’ Mexican and the must-try local dish plantain.
There is also the a la carte ‘Palazzo’ restaurant for Royal Service guests and, our personal favourite, the seven Michelinstarred Passion by Martin Berasategui.
Those parents with young children wanting to have a quiet romantic night together without them around need not fear, as the resort offers a babysitting service to put minds at rest.
At night time we found there was something for everyone to enjoy with different wine, beach and cocktail bars available for pre and post-drinks and daily entertainment shows.
Party animals seeking the local nightclub life should look no further than the world-famous Coco Bongo just down the road, a coliseum of entertaining shows, music and acrobatics that has to be seen to be believed. From lifelike recreations of Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga, to movie clips projected on screens and acted out on stage, to bar top conga lines and giant balloons, this venue has everything.
One of the highlights of the resort has to be the Yhi spa which we luckily got to try out twice on our trip. The first time was during a tour of the resort when our feet were treated to an unexpected foot massage by their top practitioners.
This certainly whetted our appetite for later in the week when we would return to enjoy a full rejuvenating body massage and a try of their signature ‘water ritual’ to cleanse and calm the body.
After several days of being waited on hand and foot and being spoiled rotten by every facet the resort had to offer, we enjoyed a change of pace by stretching our legs and seeing what the rest of the Dominican Republic has to offer. A coach provided by the resort rendezvoused with other tourists for the Hispaniola Explora VIP tour to take in some of the country’s cultural highlights and natural beauty. Our first visit was to a fantastic smelling cigar-making factory where we got to see the entire process from start to finish – and treat ourselves to some perfectly hand-crafted creations at the end.
After a stop at the Francisco A Micheli baseball stadium, we arrived at the biggest attraction in the La Romana region – the Altos de Chavon. This recreation of a medieval village was created by a former Hollywood set designer and has played host to many top films, including Pirates of the Caribbean and Apocalyse Now. The stunning amphitheatre has also delivered performances from Elton John and Duran Duran.
After building up an appetite, we arrived at the Chavon River to enjoy an atmospheric cruise with local food and entertainment before visiting the Higuey Basilica. There really is everything you could wish for in the Dominican Republic, with world-class resorts, hospitality, attractions and culture for the whole family to enjoy.
●● The main pool at the Paradisus Palma Real. Right, the Yhi spa and below Gabi beach