Hard Rock Punta Cana Review

My experience at Hard Rock Punta Cana was pretty close to amazing! After leaving Chicago Midway on a direct Southwest flight, flying into Punta Cana International airport was stunningly beautiful. Mountains divide the island, separating the DR from Haiti, and the water is highlighted by golden beaches as you look down from the sky. The airport is newly renovated, and it is easy to follow the crowd through customs and immigration. If you purchased your tourist card online before leaving, you can follow the green signs to a shorter line. Otherwise, you’ll need $10USD per person to buy a tourist card.

The little band of travel agents I was traveling with found our Blue Partner Travel Services representatives after baggage claim by walking out and then to the left. They were easy to find and completely professional. After being whisked to an air conditioned shuttle bus we were off to the Hard Rock (took about 20 minutes)! So, approximately 6 hours after leaving Chicago Midway airport, I was standing in the groups lobby at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Pretty fantastic!

In the groups lobby, we were met with a lovely, cold fruity beverage while we each checked in. The scale and drama of both the groups and main lobby are gorgeous. Especially pay attention the cool light fixtures everywhere – one chandelier is made completely out of guitar amp cables.

I opened the door to my Islander Junior Suite (#3300) and felt right at home. Chocolate, wine and a rose welcomed me to the suite and I was immediately drawn to the two person tub near the balcony. John Lenon and Yoko Ono are painted on a massive scale abstract over the tub! The bathroom was huge, the bed was extremely comfortable and overall the design was exactly what you would expect from the Hard Rock. I was pleasantly surprised at how big my balcony was.

All the rooms I saw were fantastic – if you’re looking at the lead category room or close to it, I have to say it’s a toss up between the Caribbean Suite and the Islander Junior Suite – both are fantastic rooms. I think I prefer the layout of the Caribbean Suite. I saw a Signature Family suite, and a 2 bedroom Presidential Suite which were all spacious and uniquely decorated. The rooms were impeccably clean and the mini bars full.  I loved the chicken quesadillas and burger off the room service menu.

The food at the Hard Rock Punta Cana. Oh the food. If you’ve traveled to Punta Cana before you’ll understand when I say I wasn’t expecting food to be delicious. But at this resort, every meal I had was excellent. One night we were treated to seared octopus salad, fresh salmon stuffed with shrimp and a filet. Our group had a fantastic time at the Zen restaurant where our server entertained us at a hibachi table with flames, food tosses, knife juggling and yelling every so often, “Yaya Baby!!” Seriously, you guys, the food was great. I especially loved Pizzeto, Isla for lunch, and Toro for dinner. The buffets were delicious and there was more than enough options for picky kids (like mine!). And I was impressed at how accommodating they were to gluten allergies, vegetarians and those with seafood allergies in our group.

The pools and beach at Hard Rock Punta Cana were clean, beautiful and each had a different personality. The hotel was at 65% occupancy when I was there and I can tell you there were maybe 25 people on the entire beach. The waves are quite strong and difficult to swim in. However, they built a breaker wall in front of one section of beach and the waves are lessened there, though the current is still strong. This September there was no seaweed issue at all that has been plaguing other parts of the Caribbean.

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The pools had different types of music, different layouts, and so many ways to  relax or play. For those who want entertainment and games like volleyball, the main pools in the center of the property was great. For others, like myself, who enjoy peace and quite and adults-only experience when away from the family, the pool in front of Isla did the trick. The children’s pools are so fun – there is a giant play structure, two tall tube slides and splash pools (and a lazy river)! They are so entertaining that the kids and families stay in that area, leaving the rest of the resort in effect, adults-only.

The nightlife at Hard Rock Punta Cana was fun and definitely appealed to a younger, later crowd. It’s important to know that Oro, the nightclub located in the casino has cover charges and requires $500 bottle purchase to reserve a table. They also admit guests from off property to this club. It was really well-done, though, and if you’re into clubbing and dancing, it’s a great option. Since it’s in the casino, you can completely ignore it if you don’t want to participate. The casino was fun and full almost every time I visited. Smoking is allowed in the casino so stop at the gift shop and buy a Dominican cigar, or, if you’re not a smoker, be prepared to second-hand smoke everyone else’s.

The other bars and lounges are open to hotel guests only and provided great fun doing karaoke and hosting live cover bands. I may or may not have embarrassed myself doing karaoke and there may or may not be a video of this somewhere…

The Spa at Hard Rock Punta Cana is large and beautifully appointed. When I walked through, they were training their staff and everyone was extremely professional. There is enough room for a bridal party to have up to 8 women getting their hair done at the same time, and room for that many or more to have mani/pedis in the spa. The Hydrotherapy Circuit was so refreshing and I highly recommend it. The best is you can use resort credit for spa treatments and more.

 Limitless Resort Credit is a great highlight of the Hard Rock Properties. Depending on how many nights you book, you can receive up to $1800 in credit per room. This can be used for excursions like horseback riding and all-day snorkeling/island adventures, as well as golf at the Jack Nicklaus golf course on site. The only catch is you pay 20% of the cost of the service. (Example: Horseback riding is about $90 per person, you would pay 20% of that so $18 per person). This is a really great benefit. I remember seeing that a round of golf ends up costing around $40 per person (using resort credit) for the cart, green fees, and all food and beverages. You do have to bring your own clubs and shoes.

12017502_907127039336531_508996472671314089_o As a Destination Wedding specialist, I was so thrilled to see the beautiful Weddings Offices and set ups at Hard Rock Punta Cana. The staff were always busy and extremely friendly. The way Hard Rock sets up their weddings, with all the planning done through a coordinator in Miami, then on-site at the hotel about a month before the wedding, is just plain smart. The Colin Cowie set ups, including chairs flowers and accessories are all on full view in the offices. I saw a couple of beach set ups for weddings and they were gorgeous and set about 50 yards away from the main beach and pool areas. If you’re looking for a fantastic wedding location, this could be a wonderful option to consider.

It’s important to know that this is a HUGE property and would not be a good pick for guests who have a hard time getting around or for couples wanting an intimate get away on a smaller property. It is worth staying close to the kids pools if you have a family, otherwise you’ll be walking 15 minutes across the property every time you want to go the pool. The shuttles do come every 5-10 minutes and this is a great option. But given the size of the resort and the fact that the lobby is so far from the beach, there is not much of a Caribbean, intimate feel. It feels big.

All in all, I was impressed by how the Hard Rock Punta Cana offers something for everyone. The gorgeous wedding set ups and unique (and easy!) planning process plus the included events for wedding guests are second to none. Kids love it, teens love hanging out in the ice cream shop with air hockey tables or The Cavern club room, the newly renovated Kids’ Club offers parents a break while kids play with Barney and Bob the Builder, and adults of all ages appreciate the beautiful blue waters of the beach and the 13 on-site pools. And with golf, casino and night club entertainment, an amazing spa, and all the excursions you can book using your limitless resort credit, the fun just keeps going.

Contact me today to book your Destination Wedding, group getaway, or family trip to the Hard Rock Punta Cana!  Kate Rickard  |  Travel Consultant |  847-485-0018  | kate@destinationsbyamy.com | www.destinationsbyamy.com 

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