My 10-year-old daughter and I just got back from our first visit to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for a four-night stay at Grand Palladium Bavaro Resort & Spa. As first time visitors to both the island and the hotel, we felt welcome for the moment arrived. Grand Palladium Bavaro is one of the largest family-friendly all-inclusive resorts in the area, with a wide variety of accommodations, dining options, and activities with both adults and kids in mind.
Located right on the beach along the east coast of the Dominican Republic, Grand Palladium Bavaro is a quick 30 minute taxi ride from Punta Cana airport.
The Grand Palladium Bavaro Resort & Spa is a massive property, so much so that it’s actually one of four resorts on site that make up Palladium’s Punta Cana Resorts complex. Sound complicated? It is and it isn’t. It took me and my daughter a day to get the lay of the land, but once we figured out how to get from our room to the lobby or the beach, everything was golden. The benefit of having multiple resorts on one property is that you can use each resort’s facilities, including pools, bars and restaurants — the only exception is the adults-only Royal Suites Turquesa.
My daughter and I shared a Master Junior Suite with two double beds. This room was more than spacious for the two of us, and I believe it would serve a family of three or four very comfortably.
Our accommodations included a small living area with a sofa bed, a large bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub (with room for two!), separate shower, dual sinks, a minibar (stocked daily with water, bottled soda and beer) and a balcony with two chairs.
I had a few minor issues with our room, the most notable being wi-fi (not free) and that all the outlets were two-prong, and I have a 3-prong laptop. A bummer when you need to work! Other suites in the area had three-prong outlets — I suspect the difference is because many of the rooms have been recently renovated. I was told that adapters are available, but I think it would be easier to bring your own if it’s an issue.
I was able to take a peek at one of the other room categories, the Luxury Master Suite, and was a little jealous. These two-story rooms are more modern, with a Jacuzzi tub for two and a Balinese bed on a private balcony! Another room option is the Swim Up Junior Suite, which features direct access to a pool on the backside of the room facing the ocean. When booking a room at Grand Palladium Bavario, I suggest looking closely at what each category offers and finding the fit that works best for your family.
One of the main benefits of choosing an all-inclusive resort is that breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks (both alcoholic and non) and snacks are all included with your stay.
The Grand Palladium Bavaro features 5 buffet restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and 8 “a la carte” restaurants for dinner. Reservations are not required for dining at any of the a la carte restaurants, but I would suggest making them any way to guarantee time and availability. Each of the restaurants features a different cuisine: Mexican, Spanish, Japanese (very popular!), Brazilian, American Steakhouse, Mediterranean, Italian and Asian.
I dined at several of the specialty restaurants and my favorite was Bamboo, with a dual Asian menu featuring both Chinese and Indian food. My favorite dish of the trip was on the Chinese menu: Salmon with Coconut and Lime … delicious!
The resort features a wide variety of activities that are included with your stay. My daughter and I stuck mostly to the beach and pool areas because, after all, that’s what you do in the DR! The weather was beautiful our entire stay. The beach was lovely with its soft white sand and shady palm trees— though the waves did get choppy as the day progressed. Beach chairs are complimentary and plentiful, and when you need a snack, the beach snack shack has some pretty good French fries to nibble on.
There are four pools on site, each with free umbrellas, sunbeds, showers and towel service. My daughter’s favorite area was the children’s pirate pool. Even though she can swim, she enjoyed the mini water slide, splash pads and water sprays. This space is FABULOUS for families, especially for those with younger children.
The biggest perk for families is the complimentary Castillo del Pirata Baby & Mini club for babies and children ages 1-12. The childcare program runs daily from 9am-11pm and includes a variety of fun activities including crafts, movies, cooking lessons, playtime and more.
My daughter attended one of the kids’ cooking classes, making her own creation of spaghetti with veggies and scrambled eggs … an interesting combo, but she ate it all!
Palladium Resorts has partnered with Raggs and Friends (characters from a popular pre-school TV show) to host a variety of family activities and events around the resort, including Pido’s Surf Party, character breakfasts, and live shows. The kids went nuts over the characters at breakfast, which had a unique offering of Raggs themed food.
My Mama Moment
My favorite experience at the resort was an 80-minute beach-side massage from Zentropia Spa. Pure heaven. I didn’t get the chance to visit Zentropia until the end of my stay, and I wish I hadn’t waited because the spa features an adults-only wet area with pools and saunas that can be used by guests without a treatment booked for $10/day. It’s a quiet, zen-like area, that’s possibly one of the best kept secrets of the sprawling resort. While I was enjoying my massage, my daughter was treated to a Princess manicure and pedicure exclusively for girls 12 and under. I know we both walked away from the spa with smiles on our face — it was the perfect ending to our stay!
- The grounds are gorgeous and beautifully maintained. We saw ducks, flamingos and peacocks wandering around daily. This also goes for the beach and pool areas; both were fantastic.
- The buffets have a lot of variety; everyone will find something to eat. We really enjoyed the fresh tropical fruit and fruit smoothies in the morning.
- The in-room minibar is stocked daily with bottled Coca-Cola (1 Coke, 1 Coke Light, 1 Sprite, 1 Fanta). Also, three liters of Dasani per day.
Could Be Better
- Liquor in the bars is all well; there are no top shelf brands.
- Coffee. I didn’t consider myself a coffee snob until this trip. If you need a good cup in the morning, bring your own.
Both my daughter and I enjoyed our stay at Grand Palladium Bavaro. The resort definitely caters to families and makes a vacation to the Dominican Republic very accessible with the location and all of the amenities.
Special thanks to the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism & Grand Palladium Bavaro for hosting my stay. All opinions are my own.