Relax and enjoy luxury at the Dominican Republic's new La Romana all-inclusive resort12/11/2021
IN a quest for winter sunshine, I’m following Christopher Columbus – to the Dominican Republic.
Since the explorer landed here in 1492, dubbing the paradise island Hispaniola, its eastern half has become the economic powerhouse of the Greater Antilles archipelago.
Year-round average temperatures of 26C, which gave rise to sugar cane and coffee plantations, make it perfect for golf resorts and hotels too.
Hilton has poured millions into its new La Romana all-inclusive resort, an hour’s drive from Punta Cana airport.
And it has pulled off a masterstroke if you are planning a big group getaway.
One half of the 1,000-room complex is for families, the other strictly adults only.
So those with kids can spend the day dive-bombing lifeguards while loved-up couples can bob around the infinity pool on the other side of the resort.
Then, in the evening, with the children safely detained in kids’ club, the grown-ups can get together for cocktails and dinner. There are evening stage shows and a disco too.
Neither side of the resort feels shortchanged.
There is a string of themed restaurants, coffee shops, bars, gym, beachside BBQs and pizzerias. Not to mention the mega-buffet and “premium” lounges. The latter keep a spread of nibbles and a well-stocked bar of brand-name spirits to help yourself from.
And so to the first challenge of all-inclusive land: Restraint.
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Once you realise you are allowed to help yourself it is difficult not to overindulge.
It’s like a tropical version of Supermarket Sweep.
“Yes, I will have another pina colada.” “A slice of wood-fired pepperoni pizza? Why not . . . ”
Once you’re over the panic that Dale Winton will take away your drink after 60 seconds, you can explore the many daily activities.
There’s a Truman Show vibe as you drift from rum tastings to cocktail classes. But the beach is the place to be. On arrival, a butler gives you a speed-dial mobile. He’s on hand for all you need and got us a perfect spot with loungers under a palm tree.
You start the day with fresh towels and an ice bucket full of snacks and drinks. The rest is a blur until sunset.
The beach is stunning. It’s warmer than a bath back home and there’s a living aquarium swimming around your toes. The sunset turns every view into a film set.
Most evenings we dined at the grill restaurant on a terrace perfectly framed by the Carribean’s top light show.
We had a family room — a double bed with sofa bed. If you prefer a family suite, with a separate living room for the kids and a Jacuzzi, book early, as there are only four on site. Instagram posers will love the swim-up rooms and all rooms come with a mini-terrace on the ground floor or balcony.
New for 2021 is a water park with tube slides, a lazy river and kids’ splash zone with mini waterslides.
By day six, we felt we should make a token effort to explore beyond the resort.
You can book an array of excursions on-site, the most popular being party boat tours to Catalina Island.
But with my kids Sebastian, ten, and Sophia, eight, in mind, we chose a buggy ride and morning speedboat tour.
The off-road buggies seat a family of four and look straight out of Mad Max.
You ride in convoy around a sugar-cane plantation before heading into a steep valley for a swim in the Chavon River.
The speedboat tour takes you up the river and along the coast where you can drool over the mega-mansions belonging to A-listers such as Madonna and Shakira.
Then it’s back to the Hilton, where a flock of flamingos spend the day grazing and basking in the sun. Just like the resort, they really charmed us.
GO: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
COVID: Fully vaccinated people (final dose no fewer than three weeks before arrival) do not need to test. All others age seven-plus need a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival. Pre-departure test before returning to UK and PCR test on/before day 2.
GETTING/STAYING THERE: Seven nights’ all-inclusive at the 5H Hilton La Romera Resort is from £1,165pp (Gatwick flights and 23kg baggage). See britishairways.com/dominicanrepublic
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