Dominican Republic Feature
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The all-inclusive concept, where your accommodations, meals, drinks, entertainment, tips, and activities are included in one price tag, may be one of the most popular tourism promotions in recent history, even more successful than the swim-up bar. Although this crowd pleaser began in Jamaica, the AI has reached its zenith in the Dominican Republic (particularly in Punta Cana).
Casa de Campo. The Dominican Republic's original luxury resort offers its best value to those guests who choose the all-inclusive plan; the side benefit is access to Casa's wonderful facilities and amenities, though golf is an additional cost.
Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa. A multimillion-dollar renovation upgraded the resort to luxury status, with the Club level available for additional amenities and perks. The Core Zone (for teens) and activity-filled Explorers Club for kids and the great gourmet restaurants make this the hot property at Bayahibe.
Excellence Punta Cana. A sumptuous lovers' lair, this adults-only resort exudes romance and sensuality. The open-air, tropical lobby looks out on the heavenly beach. Swim-out suites open directly onto the lazy river pool that snakes around the grounds.
Paradisus Palma Real. At this impressive resort there are three elements that make it truly stand out. The Reserve is a private self-contained sanctuary of 190 luxurious suites that's a glamorous option for families. The YHI Spa combines atmospheric lagoons and boardwalks with an Asian atmosphere and hushed serenity. The third element is the Gabi Beach restaurant, noted for its classic cuisine and impressive presentation.
The Dominican Republic's beaches are among the world's best. Beaches lined with coconut palms, with pearl-white to amber sands; beaches with looming, dramatic cliffs; pebbled beaches where mountain streams meet the sea; the country's coastline has them all.
Bahía de las Áquilas. This is the remote beach in the Southwest that everyone hears about and longs to go to. It takes some doing to get here, but it's oh so worth the effort.
The Coconut Coast. The beaches of Punta Cana—Juanillo, Punta Cana/Bávaro, El Cortecito, Arena Gorda, Macao, and Uvero Alto—are joined together in a 35-mi-long unbroken stretch of pearly sand with turquoise water.
Orchid Bay Beach. Near Cabrera on the North Coast, and named for the wild orchids that grow on its cliffs, it offers a large public beach seldom used by anyone but the residents in the luxury villas lining it. Swimmable in a couple of choice locations, this is an underutilized gem.
Playa Bahoruco. In front of the Southwest fishing village of the same name, this gorgeous stretch of virgin beach goes on for miles with unobstructed views. Taupe sand is under and around those white stones.
Playa Bayahibe. This glorious half-moon cove is where you'll find the area's best all-inclusive resorts. At night, when no one is on it and the silver moon illuminates the phosphorescence, it is what Caribbean dreams are made of.
Partying All Night
If you love nightlife, you're going to love the Dominican Republic. Dominicans are a fun-loving people, who like to drink, party, and dance. Dancing is a national passion—even more than baseball! Here happy hour starts as early as 4 pm. Some then take a second siesta, so they can rest up before the usual late dinner and dancing after.
Casino Diamante Dominicus Bayahibe. This sparkling Las Vegas-style casino in Bayahibe reopened in early 2010 under enthusiastic, new management. It all has a Caribbean flamboyance.
Hemingway's Café. Since the 1980s, this bar and restaurant has been the spot in Playa Dorada to party if you're young or fun, offering a safe haven for both AI guests and expats. Merengue bands, a DJ, karaoke, and American food keep the crowds coming.
Lax. It's one big beach party in Cabarete, with barhopping the name of the game. Open-air Lax spills onto the sand, attracting both the young and the ageless. The fun begins at happy hour, but the scene really comes alive after 10, when a DJ spins or a live band rocks.
LED. The Hispaniola Hotel & Casino can stay open past normal curfews. That in itself has made this a favorite of young party-hardys, who like their music loud 'til the wee small hours of the morning.
The Freshest Seafood
Seafood—eaten with views of the water it came from—is one of the best aspects of dining in the Dominican Republic. Price is another plus. Although Dominican cuisine can be heavy, lighter, fresher cuisine can be found at upscale restaurants all over the island, particularly those owned by expats.
Jellyfish. Shaped like a double-decker yacht, this sophisticated open-air restaurant on the sands of Bávaro focuses on fresh seafood caught by local fishermen. Soothing music and soft lighting set the mood for romantic dining, from fish right off the grill to the oven-baked lobster.
Lucía. At this Playa Dorada stunner, within Casa Colonial, the large and creative menu includes sea bass, a tuna and lobster seviche, tamarind lamb, and something called a molten chocolate volcano.
Mesón D' Bari. For decades, Señor Marisol has been feeding the locals in the capital's Zona Colonial using the recipes of his grandmother. Everyone is welcome at this late-night hangout.
Peperoni. Casa de Campo's Marina has a classy and contemporary Italian-accented restaurant that ranges from osso bucco and risotto to wood-oven pizzas and even some Asian specialties.
La Terrasse. This casually charming Samaná restaurant offers one of the best beachfront dining experiences in the Dominican Republic. It's a standout primarily because of the caring European owner and the "sun-inspired" Mediterranean cuisine.
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