Make a Date in the Dominican Republic
By Melanie Reffes
Two hours south of Miami and less than four hours from New York, love is in the air in the Dominican Republic. With plenty of flights from the USA, year round sunshine, endless strands of beach perfection, Punta Cana on the easternmost tip abutting the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean is romance-central and one of the most popular choices in the Caribbean for a wedding and honeymoon.
Spread across one hundred miles of sugary white sand and surrounded by warm waves in fifty shades of blue, Punta Cana welcomes more than six million travelers every year to the busiest airport in the Caribbean. Beginning later this year, travel will be even easier when US pre-clearance – similar to that offered in The Bahamas and Aruba – will offer immigration and customs clearance prior to arriving back to the US.
From beachfront ceremonies shaded by rows of palm trees to weddings in resort ballrooms, seaside gazebos and fine dining restaurants, Punta Cana is one-stop-shopping for couples tying the knot .On-site wedding planners at a myriad of resorts take care of all the details from the legal paperwork to the ceremony, reception and honeymoon all cloaked in plenty of Spanish charm. “The DR could have more than 80,000 hotel rooms by the end of the year,” said Francisco Javier García , tourism minister, “and more hotel rooms means more destination weddings and big business for the Spanish country.” www.godominicanrepublic.com
Beauty on the Beach
Part of the Spanish-owned Meliá Hotels Internationals that own upscale hotels around the world , the brand called Paradisus operates two resorts in the Dominican Republic; Paradisus Punta Cana and Paradisus Palma Real. All-inclusive on Bavaro Beach, Paradisus Palma Real is the smaller of the two yet big with couples tying the knot, enjoying a honeymoon or celebrating an anniversary. For the ultimate indulgence, newlyweds like the Royal Service where a personal butler makes dinner reservations, saves a spot on the beach , draws a bubble bath with rose petals and offers a pillow menu that runs the gamut from fluffy to fluffier. “We offer wonderful packages for couples that include perks like a cocktail party for guests and a romantic turn-down for newlyweds , discounts in our Wellness Center, candles in the Jacuzzi, dinner on the beach and a couples massage,” said Leticia Del Rosario associate director, sales and marketing.
Cobblestone paths lead to three-story buildings with 484 suites , two-hundred Royal Service adults-only suites and two beachfront Presidential suites with a whirlpool on the ocean view terrace. The Royal Service pool invites with a Bali Beds and pool concierges who deliver sunscreen, snacks and cocktails to the water’s edge. www.paradisus.com
Also on Bavaro Beach, Barceló Bávaro Palace is top-shelf with plenty of water sports, sun loungers in the sand, eleven restaurants and nightlife to beat the band. Part of the Barceló Bávaro Grand Resort, which includes the adults-only Barceló Bávaro Beach and the Family Club at Barceló Bávaro Palace, the all-inclusive does a brisk business in weddings and honeymoons. Framed by coconut palms and long sandy stretches, sunset on the beach is the coveted wedding venue booked months in advance of the big day.” At the Barceló Bávaro Grand Resort couples have the unforgettable experience of celebrating the wedding of their dreams on a beautiful white-sand beach with turquoise waters,” said Janessa Lopez, Romance Manager, Barceló Hotels & Resorts for Latin America; Mexico, Central America and Dominican Republic, “tie the knot under a beautiful arch with the sparkling ocean in the background and before and after the ceremony, couples and their guests enjoy the luxury of a few days of rest and recreation in this little corner of paradise.” http://barceloweddings.com
Adjacent to Punta Cana’s international airport. Cap Cana is a private community with its own marina, Jack Nicklaus golf course, towering cliffs, scenic forests, adventure park and a boatload of swanky resorts on a three-mile white sandy stretch that is popular with foodies, who bring their appetite to more than fifty restaurants. The chic showpiece on the beach, Eden Roc at Cap Cana is a collection of multi-bedroom suites and villas that come with their own golf carts for navigating the manicured grounds. One of four Relais & Chateaux resorts in the Caribbean and the only one in the Dominican Republic, the boutique hotel marries Spanish flair with the warmth of the Caribbean and comes with private pools, spa, ocean view fitness center, yoga on the beach and the just-opened Blue Grill and Bar with a delectable fusion menu of Japanese and Peruvian signatures.
“Our wedding planners create one-of-a-kind celebrations,” said Juliana Cordones Sabala, manager, sales and marketing, “from fine linens and innovative menus to unique entertainment, we handle all of the details to ensure that the wedding day is relaxing and carefree.” The top pick for a ceremony is on Caletón Beach under a picturesque pergola perched atop the white sands with chairs set up for family and friends. www.edenroccapcana.com Contact Magdalena Lopez , groups and events coordinator. email@example.com
With the opening of Secrets Cap Cana Resort & Spa, AM Resorts brings the brand portfolio to fifteen resorts including two in the Dominican Republic. “It is a great pleasure to be here witnessing the opening of this hotel,” said Francisco Javier García, minister of tourism, “ tourism is our country’s strongest industry and an economic engine for job creation.” Saluting the silky sands of Juanillo Beach, 457-room all-inclusive adults-only welcomes with well-appointed rooms and bungalow-style suites with private pools. Romantic perks include secluded seafront dining and palatial infinity pools to seven restaurants, six bars, nightclub and Secrets Spa by Pevonia. “Secrets Cap Cana Resort & Spa provides the ultimate adults-only luxury escape in the top-rated Cap Cana area, offering marvelous amenities and the highest standards of quality,” said Gonzalo del Peon, president, AMResorts, “we warmly welcome couples who want to relax and enjoy this majestic oasis in the Dominican Republic.”
Wooing the romance market, onsite wedding planners organize a host of activities like a round of golf at the Punta Espada Course, day trips on a boat and excursions to the nearby equestrian center. “Cap Cana is truly an ecological paradise developed for elegant living that plays exceptionally well with the high expectations of today’s sophisticated traveler,” said Alejandro Zozaya, CEO , Apple Leisure Group, “this newest addition to the AMResorts Collection is a game-changer for the Secrets Resorts & Spas brand.” www.secretsResorts.com
Along three miles of white sand, Punta Cana Resort & Club is also home to forty-five holes of championship Tom Fazio and P. B. Dye -designed golf and the finest beds for heads on the eastern side of the country. A member of Leading Hotels of the World , the only AAA Five Diamond awarded hotel in the Dominican Republic and ten minutes from the Punta Cana International Airport, Tortuga Bay Hotel is tops with twosomes looking for unrivaled service and understated elegance in thirty suites in thirteen villas designed by hometown fashion icon Oscar de la Renta. On a private beach saluting the Caribbean Sea, the tony resort comes with the Six Senses Spa, Tennis Center, Ecological Reserve with natural spring water lagoons and Bamboo Restaurant. www.puntacana.com
There is plenty of variety in 174 suites at Sanctuary Cap Cana. For couples on a mission, go the distance in an ocean view suite in The Castle on the resorts private island that pairs with a three-day wedding experience that includes a seaside ceremony and cocktail party for guests. Offering four wedding packages, the wow-factor goes to the Radiant Package that includes a ceremony oceanside on the white sands of Juanillo Beach or in the fragrant garden, sparking wine, bamboo canopy draped in white, one dozen roses, blue and white themed dinner recepetion and beyond the reception extras like a honeymoon package, breakfast in bed, spa discounts and romantic evening turndowns. For up to the twenty-four in-house guests, the wedding package is tied up nicely with a price tag of US$4500.00 that includes everything from soup to nuts. https://sanctuarycapcana.com/
With seven resorts in Punta Cana, Bahia Principe is the largest hotel chain in the Dominican Republic. The market leader in destination weddings, Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana is palatial with 756 rooms, two pools, five restaurants and four bars while Luxury Bahia Principe Fantasia is for the young-at-heart looking for a magical wedding. As the 14th Bahia Principe resort in the DR, fantasy weddings are big business.
“Our high-end resort is called Fantasia and is a dream come true for couples who would like to get married in a castle,” said Lluisa Salord, senior vice president, Global Sales, “we offer wedding packages at all our resorts with our enthusiastic wedding staff delighted to organize receptions big and small. “ Popular with couples, Emerald wedding package comes chilled Moet champagne and VIP spa massages for the newlyweds. www.bahia-principe.com/en/resorts-in-dominican-republic/resort-fantasia
Adjacent to the Royalton Punta Cana, much-anticipated 168-suite Hideaway will open in the fall. Elegant and exclusive, the adults-only treats couples to afternoon hors d’oeuvres , cold towels poolside , pillow menu and en-suite aromatherapy. “There is a lot of demand for the Royalton collection of resorts in Punta Cana and we look forward to creating another refined all-inclusive experience.” said Jordi Pelfort, managing director, Blue Diamond Resorts. Sweetening the pot, guests have access to facilities at the Royalton Punta Cana like massages in the Royal Spa , splash time in three pools and sips and snacks in ten restaurants . “We look forward to welcoming couples at our new Hideaway resort where newlyweds and their guests will find a vacation of their dreams,” said Ramona Monte, sales manager. www.bluediamondresorts.com