Matt and I celebrated his golden birthday (27 on the 27th) at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. We had an amazing time and wanted to share our experience with you all. So, the following is our review of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana (& related trip features):
AIR TRAN: We flew with Air Tran. There were no films and two of the flights they seated us separately (thankfully the first one we were able to move, but the second one we had to sit with someone between us who refused to switch with us – didn’t make sense, especially when we offered for him to sit next to his wife, but oh well).
AIRPORT: The line to buy the tourist card was a bit chaotic with people cutting in line, but it all works out once you realize that you can cut the line as well. After that, it was smooth sailing, even with getting a cab.
CURRENCY: If you buy Dominican pesos at the currency exchange, make sure to use them all. I exchanged US$100, saved the pesos for an emergency, never used the pesos, and then exchanged them back for dollars upon return to the airport. I only got back US$67!! I lost $33!! Don’t do what I did. The cab we used accepted dollars. The hotel accepted dollars and had a currency exchange. Next time I will be all in or all out (in other words, only use pesos and use them all, or no pesos at all).
PUNTA CANA: Beautiful beach. Matt and I want to retire there. Such a calm, beautiful place.
PRICE: The hotel was A LOT. However, I really wanted to stay there so I didn’t fuss about it. And, some thing that did help us out was the $750 resort credit that we were given. We used it on a special bottle of wine, a nice painting that is now hanging in our bedroom, a massage for Matt, a pedicure for me, and for two excursions (we only ended up taking advantage of one of them). Do realize though that prices at the hotel for non-all-inclusive items are ridiculous! For example, the same sunscreen I bought at CVS for US$11 was US$50 at the hotel!! .
HOTEL GROUNDS: Absolutely amazing! Well maintained.
ROOMS: Amazing! We had a huge jacuzzi in the middle of the room. The shower was its own room. The only compliant I have is about noise. They didn’t create thick enough doors/walls. We could hear everything, including the next door’s TV. For someone that is a light sleeper, bring ear plugs!
NIGHTLIFE: The performances at the theater are disappointing. Oro, the nightclub, was super nice but it was disappointing that the night club was not included. We paid US$40/pp. We did get to see a Reggaeton concert that was really great. Besides going out to the club, there are a lot of bars.
ACTIVITIES AT RESORT: There were a lot of activities during the day, including beach volleyball, beach soccer, dance classes, live music, mini golf, and much more. Lots to do during the day. Night time there is not so many options. The performances in the theater were terrible. But, we were so tired after a day on the beach that we didn’t need much besides dinner.
GYM: HUGE! There were a lot of machines and workout classes. However, I did not understand the need for all the TVs when there was no way to hear the TVs.
SPA: Matt loved the spa. We used resort credit for his 50 minute massage.
SALON: I used resort credit on a pedicure. It was amazing. They gave me hot tea, put a warm pillow around my neck, and gave me a foot massage.
CASINO: If you like casinos, there are quite a lot of options. However, we did not have any winning hands on this trip.
ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE RESORT: The resort credit can be used on five different excursions. We ended up booking the horse back riding on the beach and the snorkeling excursion. We ended up skipping the snorkeling excursion because we just did not want to get up early (hey, it was free!), but we did do the horse back riding one, which was totally worth it. The guides were super helpful with the horses and made us feel confident.
POOLS: The lazy river was ok. The adults only pool was really nice especially with the hammocks and beds. We didn’t really go to any of the other pools because we were in love with the beach.
BEACH: Absolutely breathtaking. One of the best beaches I have ever been too.
Let’s talk about the RESTAURANTS:
BEACH/POOL BAR: The food and drinks ordered at the pool were awesome for lunch and snacks. The food and drinks ordered to the beach were ok, but the frozen drinks turned liquid quickly.
DELIs: We actually did not eat at any of the delis.
ICE CREAM: Not so great.
CIAO (Italian): The pasta we had was made by using a huge parmesan cheese wheel. Super good!
IPANEMA (Brazilian): We hated this place. We didn’t really like anything there.
ISLA (Caribbean): Great breakfast! We only ate breakfast there.
LOS GALLOS (Mexican): Great hosts. Great entertainment (tequila man, singers). This was one of our favorite restaurants.
PIZZETO (pizza): If you think that no one can mess up pizza, think again. This was terrible! The food was so crappy that we left half way through the meal and went to the Italian restaurant.
THE MARKET (buffet): We only ate breakfast there. Great breakfast!
TORO (American): We only ate lunch there but it was great. Lots of options. And, the chimichanga was amazing! Favorite food I ate.
ZEN (Japanese): Best meal! Chicken, beef, shrimp (for Matt), rice, spring rolls, and more. Yummy…
IN-ROOM DINING: We only ordered chocolate cake and it was terrible! Yucky!
Will we return to Punta Cana? Yes. For sure. Will we stay at the Hard Rock again? If there is a good deal.