Soak up all of the tropical vibes and R&R at this elevated all-inclusive experience in Punta Cana…
By Karen Kwan
Craving sunshine on your shoulders and sand between your toes? The popular resort town of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic delivers on plenty of sun, sea and sand and is a super simple vacay to plan for when you snag an all-inclusive package–just throw some clothes and SPF in a carry-on and you’re good to go. You’ll have a cerveza in hand before you know it.
The freshly renovated Riu Palace Macao–available in Canada exclusively through Sunwing Vacations–is a chic adults-only resort on Arena Gorda Beach and one of the few Riu properties offering Elite Club by Riu (Bonus: It’s a quick 30-minute drive from Punta Cana International Airport when you go with NexusTours’ upgraded private transfers–so you’ll have more time enjoying paradise rather than commuting). Book the Elite Club by Riu upgrade for in-room aromatherapy and your own plunge pool, access to the plush cabanas in the exclusive beach area (which has its own bar and bartender who will bring your mojito to you as you sunbathe), to name just a few of the extra perks of your VIP status. There’s a well equipped fitness centre on the property, too, so you can be sure to keep up with your workouts if you want to (Tip: Mid-morning tends to be the busiest at the gym).
The expansive buffet at Riu Palace Macao means that whether you’re an adventurous eater or have a restriction or two, you can easily fill your plate with yummy eats. If you’re looking to get a taste of local foods at the buffet or if you venture off the resort, look for fried fish dishes, sancocho (a hearty stew made with seven types of meat), mofongo (a mash of plantains, garlic and chicharrones that originates from Peru), mangu (mashed green plantains) and also rice, which is a Dominican staple. Besides the buffet on the resort, make sure to try the restaurants, too, where no reservations are required. Our top pick: the Steakhouse–get the perfectly cooked lobster as your main. Be sure to try some Mamajuana during your stay, too–a spicy spirit made with rum, red wine, and honey with tree bark and herbs.
Get Glowing“Keep taking time for yourself until you are you again,” reads the sign in the Renova Spa lounge–words to take to heart on a vacay dedicated to self-care. Book a treatment or two at the spa to wring out any last knots of stress you’re holding onto. We recommend the signature Renova Spa massage at the beginning of your stay and returning for the Luminous Skin facial towards the end of your vacay–you’ll return home looking and feeling like a new person. Tip: Guests are welcome to use the spa facilities even without a treatment booked–escape here for some serenity and enjoy the hydrotherapy pools.
Seize the Fun in the Sun
Carving out exactly the type of vacation you want is simple here. For some quiet R&R, escape to the private Elite Club beach area and get in a nap and dive into your beach read. Plus, did you know Punta Cana boasts more than 50 kilometres of beach? Add a walk do your daily Dominican routine–stroll along Arena Gorda (which translates to “fat sand” in reference to its wide swatch of sandy white beach) and you’ll discover it makes for good people-watching and there are some great Instagram photo opps with all of the mature palm trees and rocky outcrops. Be sure to get up early at least one morning to catch the phenomenal sunrise views here, too.
When you start itching for some more adventure, book an excursion with Nexus Tours: Reef Explorer is a choose-your-own-water-adventure outing (you can snorkel and look for stingrays and nurse sharks, SUP, kayak, power snorkel or get a massage–or do all of the above!). If you prefer to stick closer to home, walk over to the Splash Water World (it’s available to guests of Riu Palace Macao and the four other neighbouring Riu resorts) to slide down the exhilarating options from Body Vortex to Kamikaze.
Finally, dance the day or night away at one of the famous RIU Party events–it’s held four times a week with a theme (check the RIU Party schedule before you pack for your trip so you can be sure your outfit is on point with the party’s dress code of the day).