The moment you step on Hard Rock Punta Cana’s property you feel like you are at home but with a much better soundtrack and scenery.
Story by Crystal Cooper
I had never been to the Dominican Republic before but had heard wonderful stories about the gorgeous beaches, kind people, and laid back vibes. The Hard Rock Punta Cana did not disappoint. Every single person you make eye contact with greets you warmly and if you happen to look the slightest bit lost they are immediately at your disposal. There might have been six-feet between us but their attentiveness never felt far away.
As we navigate travel in the age of Covid I found myself perplexed about how this vacation would look for me. Would I feel isolated, scared, and overwhelmed? Could I expect other guests to respect the Covid regulations? From the moment I got to Punta Cana every single guideline was adhered to. That level of dedication to keeping their guests healthy really set my mind at ease. Throughout my stay the property was constantly sanitized, the appropriate physical distance was observed, and masks were worn without complaint.
Now that my Covid anxieties were soothed I could focus on my accommodations. I was lucky enough to be in the one bedroom Rock Suite with a personal assistant. The only personal assistant I had ever had was on my phone and I was uncomfortable asking her for directions. Before I could stress my PA (personal assistant) reached out with a friendly reminder for my dinner reservation. Throughout the trip, he would handle various reservations, make recommendations, and remind me to stay hydrated. The room also featured a spa tub, balcony, and pool views.
Before my dinner reservation I thought it would be best to grab a nap but boy oh boy was I wrong. The moment I laid I realized that it would take an act of God to get me out of bed. I am a bit of a mattress snob and most hotel beds leave a lot to be desired. Not this one! The mattress was the perfect mixture of soft and firm while the pillows provided the perfect amount of support. What was supposed to be an hour nap resulted in making it to my reservation with only two minutes to spare. Almost missing my dinner was worth it as I was refreshed and ready to enjoy my first night on the property.
My first dinner was at Montserrat Manor. Located just inside the casino the restaurant serves up Nikkei cuisine with a side of rock star opulence. The space is decked out with plush velvet furniture, a gilded horse, and gorgeous chandeliers. The vibe is sexy, lavish, and fun. As soon as I was seated my server appeared with a gorgeous charcuterie board and asked me to pick my poison. Their cocktail list consists of classic and signature cocktails that definitely did not disappoint. I opted for a Gin based signature cocktail and felt the perfect buzz after just a few sips. The manager stopped by to offer his recommendations and because he was so passionate I opted to go with his choices.
I’ve had crispy tuna rice done forty ways but theirs was the best I’ve ever had. The tuna was fresh, flavorful, and had the perfect amount of sauce. The crispy rice had a beautiful buttery soy drizzle and was the perfect texture. For my entree, I had garlicky shrimp with mashed potatoes. Those shrimp were so plump and buttery that I almost ordered a second round. After some serious contemplation, I exercised restraint and opted for dessert and one more drink. Just before I headed out the manager recommended checking out the Casino for some after dinner fun.
Full disclosure, I’ve never gambled or done anything but walked through a casino. With a little liquid courage, I decided that tonight would be the night to change that. Growing up my Nana loved Casinos and always played the penny slots. She was naturally lucky and would always leave the Casino while she was still up. She was also a lover of TV game shows and Wheel of Fortune was her favorite. As I wandered through the Casino I couldn’t help but be in awe of all the lights, sounds, and cheers of joy. They had an amazing DJ and I was so busy jamming out that I realized that I hadn’t played a single game after thirty minutes. With so many to choose from, I didn’t know which to hit first. Blackjack seemed complicated and I don’t understand Craps, so a slot machine felt like the best way to go. With at least 15 options I wasn’t sure which one I should choose. As I was scanning the room, I saw the vibrant yellow glow from the wheel of the Fortune machine and figured this was my Nana’s way of sending me a wink from the great beyond.
One of the lovely hostesses noticed my look of wonder and motioned me over. She sanitized the area and told me to sit down. With a bemused look on her face, she asked if it was my first time playing and I nodded yes. She pointed to where I should place my card and then told me to pull the lever. As the icons spun and the machine sang I was taken back to those days of watching my Nana play. Only now I didn’t have to be bothered with a bucket of coins. Even though lady luck wasn’t on my side that night I still had a ball tempting fate.
After all the excitement of the previous evening, I wanted to take a few moments and recharge. With 42 treatment rooms, a sauna, and an extensive hydrotherapy center you’d be hard pressed to not a spot to enjoy some peace. While many of the common areas are closed in adherence with Covid guidelines there are still ample spots to relax. I booked a holistic massage at Rock Spa and couldn’t wait to be pampered. I was led back to a private area where I enjoyed the soothing sounds of the water before my treatment. My massage therapist was warm and gave me the best massage I’ve had in years. After she finished I was led to another private area to enjoy a cup of mint tea and collect my thoughts before my pool time.
The Hard Rock Punta Cana has thirteen pools and I wasn’t sure which one would be ideal. As I was looking at my options my personal assistant sent me a message suggesting Eden(the adults only) pool for a craft cocktail and a laid-back atmosphere. I was so glad he had the foresight to give me a suggestion because I wasn’t sure which one I’d like best. I wanted to relax but still have fun so Eden fit the bill perfectly. The pool is surrounded by hammocks and cabanas so the hardest part of your day is deciding where you want to nap. I picked a swinging daybed and after a few Isla Bonitas, I didn’t have a care in the world.
After sleeping my day away I could do with a few more drinks. Luckily they offered a private wine tasting with their resident sommelier. The tasting experience was hosted on the balcony of the wine shop so I could enjoy the scenery and amazing weather. We went through four selections of red and white wines and at the conclusion of the tasting I was able to take my favorite with me.
The next day I figured a little physical activity would do me some good so I requested a yoga kit through the Rock Om program. A kit is hand delivered to your room and you can then stream on-demand yoga videos. After finding my Zen I headed to the beach to work on my tan. The sand was powdery, the water was the perfect shade of turquoise, and the drinks were ice cold. I spent the rest of the day getting a much needed dose of vitamin sea.
All inclusives are not created equal. I’ve been to my fair share and haven’t been wowed by any of them. However, there was something about Hard Rock Punta Cana’s limitless Resort Credits (world-class spa spa, excursions, and delicious dining options) that spoke to me. Everything about the bed, cocktails, and slot machines lends itself to your optimal enjoyment. The staff is warm and I felt that they were fully committed to me having the best experience possible. After all the uncertainty of this year, travel, now more than ever offers a much needed respite from the madness. The Hard Rock’s commitment to Covid guidelines was impeccable and I felt well cared for throughout my trip.