Erin’s review of the Dominican Republic

Whether you’re a beach lover who wants to just fly and flop, someone who enjoys learning about a new culture, or a fanatic of exploring the underwater, you’ll be spoilt for choice in the Dominican Republic. I have been ever so lucky to have recently travelled here, representing Holiday With Us and checking out the AMResorts in Punta Cana and La Romana. 

The journey...

After a 9 hour flight from Manchester Airport, we finally arrived in Punta Cana. Our flight was with Thomas Cook Airlines and I would certainly recommend them for long haul flights. The seats were comfortable and it was nice to have a bit more leg room. In the back of each seat, there’s a TV Screen with a USB charger so you can use your phone on the flight, or if you’re like me, you can watch 9 hours nonstop of Netflix! You get 5 films free but can always pay £5 more to get a better selection.  The in-flight meals were by James Martin and were very good quality. 

As soon as I stepped off the aircraft, the heat just hit me. The day we arrived it was 29 degrees celsius and the sun was beaming down on us all. The airport was small, but I’d go as far as to say it’s one of the nicest airports I have travelled to. The duty free was great, with so many shops to pick from, ranging from the top end designer gear, down to the classic souvenir shops. There were many American food chains like Taco Bell, Wendy’s and even a traditional Caribbean take out.

When we got through arrivals at the airport we were greeted by our guide, Samuel, who stayed with us for the 5 days that we were there. The driver and Samuel took us to our first hotel, The Secrets Royal Beach. The hotel was stunning and the rooms were so plush. The views from the room were so beautiful that after our meal, I couldn’t wait to get back to my room to relax in the Jacuzzi on the balcony. The Royal Beach was one of many hotels that we visited. Below, you can see a short description of each one;

Secrets Royal Beach

The Secrets hotels are all adult only and offer the 5* luxurious experience. The Secrets Royal Beach has a beachfront location on the Atlantic sea. You will notice that the ocean here is a little rougher than what it would be if you travelled further south. However, the soft golden sand and waiter service is enough to put you in your happy place. If you stay at the Royal Beach, you can use the facilities at the Now Larimar and the Now Garden, so there’s a choice 16 places to dine (however the NOW hotels are not adult only). The lagoon pool starts from the front of the hotel and travels right up to the beach, where you’ll also find a swim up bar. This adult only hotel adds all the little details to make sure your holiday is memorable. Each room has a private whirlpool bath on the terrace or balcony and provides 24/7 room service.

now larimar

The Now Larimar is located right next door to the Secrets Punta Cana. The Now is a chain of family hotels located around Punta Cana. This hotel is located on the beachfront and provides great entertainment for children, along with gourmet restaurants and rooms with stunning views. Here you can also use the a la carte restaurants at the Now Garden. The AMResorts Hotels have a kids club to keep the 3 to 12 year olds entertained, called The Explorers Club. The hotel also provides a 24/7 concierge service, as well as a free daily stocked mini bar with beer, wine and soft drinks. Standard rooms have a Jacuzzi in the bathroom, but if you’re a preferred guest, it will be located outside on the balcony/terrace.


This Now hotel is very modern and has a quirky, colourful look to it. This is a family resort and as soon as we walked to the pool area, the atmosphere was great. Everyone had smiles on their faces watching others tackle a water obstacle, the music was turned up and the bar was surrounded by guests. For a lot of holiday makers, it looked like a second home.

The rooms were very modern & bright and again, guests will find a whirlpool bath on the balcony or terrace.  The rooms provided a free topped up mini bar service and 24 hour room service, which is perfect for those rolling in late from the night club fancying a snack. At 2 am, I wanted a burger and chips, and at 2 am… I got a burger and chips. If you’re a preferred guest, you’ll have access to parts of the hotel that standard guests won’t get. You’ll be able to rent your own private island for the day costing $100 per day, which I would certainly recommend, especially if you prefer your own space. You will also receive waiter service throughout the day.

The hotel provides great entertainment, and for the night we were there, they hosted a beach party. Guests and hotel staff were dancing into the night with their feet in the white sand, and it was great to see people of all ages come together. The beach party finished about 11 pm so off we went to the hotel next door, Breathless Punta Cana, and enjoyed their night club. The atmosphere here was great and drinks were provided all night for guests from both hotels.

breathless punta cana

How can I describe this hotel? Possibly a Las Vegas vibe mixed with a Marbella atmosphere. The Breathless resorts are adult only so I’d recommend this hotel to a groups of friends, stag/hen parties and possibly a young person travelling on their own as the hotel makes it easy to socialise and meet new people. You can relax in your cabana all day listening to the DJ set around the pool, or get involved in the different events like the foam parties, white beach parties and black light pool parties.

Staying at the Breathless hotel means you get access to 11 gourmet restaurants, 4 of which provide communal tables for more of a social experience. Reservations are never required.  24 hour dining allows guests to have food served whenever they like.

Here you have 9 room categories starting from the leading junior suite with a private whirl pool bath, to the XHALE Club Presidential Suite. Upgrading to an Xhale member means you will get many more perks and extras to make your stay more memorable, including butler service, access to 2 exclusive pools for Xhale guests only, access to the private club lounge and a VIP host service. What’s more, there are even rooms that allow you to bring your small dogs! Your furry friends will enjoy food and water bowls, a themed dog bed and toys. However you do have some restrictions on this.


The Zoetry hotel is an all inclusive boutique hotel, located in a secluded area with a beach front location. Walking around the hotel, you hear nothing but waves crashing into the sand and the sound of birds chirping. It’s the most tranquil and peaceful hotel there is. This tranquil setting protects the mind and body, making you feel at ease. Their privileges are endless, with 24-hour private in-suite dining, a welcome bottle of tequila or rum, daily afternoon tea and a 20-minute wellness experience.

The suites have a very rustic but traditional feel to them. You will admire the cathedral ceilings, palapa roofs and French doors leading to a private terrace area, giving you a view of either the lush tropical gardens, a swim up pool, or the ocean. Whether you opt for 1 or 3 bathrooms, you will receive Bvlgari bath amenities and a large soaking tub. All suites are non-smoking.

At the Zoetry, they offer only the finest in gourmet dining at 4 restaurants that serve an international menu, and reservations are never required. In some restaurants, you will find that the food is locally grown.


The Dreams Dominicus hotel is a fantastic family escape located on the beachfront of Bayahibe. The theme of this beautiful hotel is authentic Italian, with white washed buildings and twinkling lights scattered around the gardens & walkways. As well as being perfect for relaxing on the golden sand or by the pristine swimming pools, this hotel is in an ideal location for explorers. You can visit Soana Island, or go to the top championship golf courses. From here, you can arrange an excursion to Scape Park for the day. The hotels also provide some fantastic activities for all ages. You and your family can compete against each other in a game of volleyball in the pool, or join the snorkel and scuba diving activities in the PADI dive Centre. Kids can take part in treasure hunts and campout adventures by signing up to the Explorers Club. Teens have a zone where they can also chill out, play on play stations, take part in games & sports, and join in on the nightly social events that are held from 20:30 up until midnight.

The hotels have 13 rooms types, the leading being the preferred club presidential suite. The hotels also have honeymoon suites and swim up rooms. If you’re travelling with your family, I’d recommend paying a little bit extra and upgrading to the Preferred Club, as you can get 2 -3 bedroom family suites. Staying as a preferred guest means you can experience much more, with access to a private lounge and beach area, special concierge service and other amenities. If you choose not to upgrade, you will still receive 24-hour room service, a private furnished balcony or terrace area and daily maid service.

The Dreams Dominicus has a wide selection of speciality dining, ranging from 4 a la carte restaurants, a buffet restaurant and a 24-hour cafe. You can also dine in your suite by ordering room service or enjoy a meal in one of the hotel’s romantic spots.


On this FAM trip, they certainly saved the best hotel until last. The Secrets Cap Cana was my all time favourite and I would highly recommend this adult only hotel to any couple, group of friends or solo traveller. This Secrets Hotel is a paradise for those looking to indulge in luxury and relaxation. The hotel faces the Caribbean sea so you can expect views of white sand and crystal waters.

The hotel provides great activities, dazzling entertainment and luxurious pools. Water sports include snorkelling, dance lessons, non-motorised water sports and scuba lessons in the pool. Entertainment is provided by professional entertainers who host live shows, outdoor entertainment and weekly theme nights. Depending on the weather, they also host movies on the big screen on the beach. There’s a long lagoon style pool running through the hotel grounds which also turns into an infinity pool. The pool features a swim up bar and comfy Balinese beds. If you’ve upgraded to be a preferred guest, you can enjoy the use of the club pool located near the preferred club restaurants. You can also enjoy the use of Punta Espada Golf Club as well as the fitness centre. 

The Secrets resort features gourmet dining so you can indulge in a wide variety of international cuisine. There is a choice of 7 a la carte restaurants, a buffet restaurant, a grill and a cafe. I would recommend the Japanese restaurant, it’s a great experience as they cook the food right in front of you. It isn’t just sushi, you can enjoy beef, chicken, prawns and dessert is even better, fried ice cream!

You can enjoy a day getting your golden glow on the beach, and if you didn’t want to move all day, you don’t have to. You’ll have waiters and waitresses walking around all day providing you with drinks and snacks to eat. The hotel has 19 room categories, ranging from deluxe rooms, swim up rooms, presidential suites and bungalow master suites.  The room themes are traditional Caribbean, with a touch of luxury.


  • Scape Park – Scape Park is a natural theme park located close to Cap Cana. The park has numerous attractions ranging from adventurous and adrenaline pumping activities, to cultural experiences.  Here you can drop from a monkey bar or dive into the fresh waters surrounded by caves and waterfalls. You can also zip wire through the trees and speed through 12 obstacles ending in a pool of fresh water. If you’re not one to get your heart racing, you can enjoy a day at one of the most gorgeous beaches on the Caribbean island, or swim amongst the caves.
  • Soana Island – this is an idyllic spot in the Caribbean with beautiful sand, palm trees and Caribbean sea. An excursion is usually about a 10 hour tour from Punta Cana. You’ll be able to board a small speed boat, stopping at natural swimming pools where you can see starfish that are larger than your two hands put together! At Soana Island, you can spend the day exploring or relaxing on the beach, with a traditional Dominican buffet lunch and an open bar.

  • Santo Domingo – If you want to learn about the Dominican Culture, I would recommend heading into the capital, Santo Domingo. This is also one of oldest cities in the Caribbean. A day trip would be approximately 10 hours long so it requires an early start and a late finish. In Santo Domingo, you can see the Altar de la Patria monument, a white marble mausoleum where the remains of the country’s founding fathers are housed. You can also visit the Basilica Cathedral of Santa Maria which is the Americas’ oldest cathedral and holds a stunning vaulted ceiling. If you’re travelling with children, you can spend time at the zoo, have a coffee at the Plaza de Espana and then visit the historical Alcazar de Colon Palace, home to some intriguing artwork.


The Dominican Republic is 4 hours behind the UK

Dominican Peso, however American Dollars are preferred

The Dominican is warm and sunny throughout the year, although the mountainous areas of the island are significantly wetter and cooler. There’s a fair amount of rainfall even in coastal areas, although this is normally only a short spell so you should be able to dodge the showers. You’ll find it’s dry, sunny and calm most of the time. 

If you’re interested in travelling to the Dominican Republic, but you’re unsure on which resort is best for you, why not get in touch with Erin on 0800 167 0232, or click here to enquire online.