We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

First time to DR....best place to stay....AI or not???

Which Punta Cana hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
Ashburn, Virginia
Level Contributor
8 posts
11 reviews
Save Topic
First time to DR....best place to stay....AI or not???

Hubby & I are looking to book a long weekend in early May and are considering DR or Cancun. Leaning towards DR as I hear the beaches are much nicer. I have been doing so much research on many of the resorts in DR that I am now SO confused!! We have never done AI before but are considering that option as we will only be there Thur-Sun and not renting a car. However I am NOT a buffet person and have seen consistent reviews regarding bad food at AI's. We are not a fan of mega resorts and usually prefer boutique or smaller resorts......still want to feel pampered, hang by a nice quiet pool having cocktails, and lovely beach. However, have found mixed reviews on the smaller resorts as well. HELP please! We'd like a low-key, romantic getaway, without breaking the bank, and not horribly far from the airport. No plans for any excursions on this trip, just want to hang at resort. Is AI worth it?? Do smaller resorts present higher risk of "stomach" issues? Any insight is appreciated!!

Hartford...
Level Contributor
2,113 posts
120 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: First time to DR....best place to stay....AI or not???

Welcome to the forums!

Most of the resorts in PC are AI.

You likely won't get the same quality of food that you might at a "pay as you eat" type of place, but the resorts try to have a large varety, so you can always find something you like. If you don't like buffets (neither do we) most resorts offer ala carte restaurants as well. In our experience, the ala carte food exceeded our expectations.

What type of budget are you looking at? The veterans on here will give you some suggestions.

Morristown, New...
Level Contributor
7,902 posts
31 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: First time to DR....best place to stay....AI or not???

As mentioned, most (like 99%?) of resorts in Punta Cana are all-inclusive. And, you're right. AI food isn't the best out there. However, the selection is large and there's always something there that you'll like.

For a smaller, romantic resort on a great beach, take a look at Secrets Royal Beach. I found the food to be the best AI food I've tried... even the buffet, which I know doesn't appeal to you, was excellent. There aren't a lot of a la carte restaurants, but for your short stay, between what SRB has, and access to other options next door at Now Larimar, I'm sure you'll find plenty to eat that you'll enjoy.

SRB is mid to high range, pricewise, but it won't break the bank. A lot of your travel budget goes towards airfare, so if you can swing a few more days, it'll be worth it, once you've paid to actually fly there.

Other adults only, smaller resorts to consider would be Catalonia Royal and Punta Cana Princess. Those will come in less $$ than SRB

muskoka ON
Level Contributor
1,955 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: First time to DR....best place to stay....AI or not???

Catalonia Royal had better food than some of the others we've tried, but as Poozie noted, AIs are not really known for their outstanding food quality!! . Small resort, adult only, and lovely and relaxing with no loud music at the pools or on the beach. No buffet on the Royal side - there is a large one on the Bavaro side next door (and we found the food there to be good for an AI also), but 3 lovely alacarte restaurants. There are an additional 3 al a cartes on the family side, 20 minute transfer from the airport.

Edited: 28 January 2014, 16:31
Washington DC...
Level Contributor
107 posts
Save Reply
4. Re: First time to DR....best place to stay....AI or not???

May also want to consider other islands with non-stop flights from Balt/Wash: Aruba, Jamaica, Bahamas

Ashburn, Virginia
Level Contributor
8 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: First time to DR....best place to stay....AI or not???

Thanks everyone who has posted suggestions so far. Airfare is not an issue as we are using frequent flyer miles. Sivory, Sanctuary Cap Cana, Secrets, & Dreams were some we were perusing (for budget samples). We don't expect early May to be too horribly busy so maybe a mega resort would work for our short visit. Love the Tortuga but $$$$. Bob, yes I thought about Aruba as well (not interested in Jamaica & have been to the Bahamas). Could be an option if we just cannot land on a place in the DR.

Sigh!

Morristown, New...
Level Contributor
7,902 posts
31 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: First time to DR....best place to stay....AI or not???

Well, Aruba is a great option, if you're not into the all-inclusive resort idea. In fact, with so many great dining options in Aruba, I will always recommend going the NON-AI route there, even though AIs are moving in. Aruba is such an easy island to navigate on your own, whether by rental car, bus or taxi, that you really miss out, by staying AI. However, it's a longer trip for you, for a long weekend.

Toronto, Canada
Destination Expert
for Punta Cana
Level Contributor
9,914 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: First time to DR....best place to stay....AI or not???

If Sivory, Sanctuary, and Secrets are on your list, then I'd add Zoetry, Excellence, and Iberostar Grand, and take Dreams off the list - much more family oriented, and a notch or two below the others.

Mark

murillo
Level Contributor
5,713 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: First time to DR....best place to stay....AI or not???

you don't get your room til 3:00 and have to be out on your last day by 11:00 ... You can still use the resort though.. I would stay close to the airport and definitely an AI for a short visit...

puntacanatv.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/P…

Cape May, New Jersey
Level Contributor
3,288 posts
79 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: First time to DR....best place to stay....AI or not???

For a trip that short, Aruba would add a lot more flying hours.

Edited: 28 January 2014, 17:52
Washington DC...
Level Contributor
107 posts
Save Reply
10. Re: First time to DR....best place to stay....AI or not???

no, aruba not much farther than DR. I see flights of 4 1/2 hours for aruba vs. a little less than 4 hours for DR