The Reserve at Paradisus
Palma Real Resort
Commission: 10 percent
Rates: Rates vary by season, starting at $517, based on double occupancy, from May through August, then down to $496 until December.
Packages: A PoshMom.com Family Concierge Program package starts at $561 per night, based on double occupancy. It includes Junior Suite accommodations; a pre-stocked, personalized minibar; unpacking service upon arrival; a private pool and sectioned-off beachfront inclusive of beach toys; reserved day beds and lounge chairs at shared pool and beach cabanas; a beach bag valet; a selection of Johnson & Johnson tear-free bath products; kids’ turndown service; an optional PlayStation for the room; complimentary laundry service before departure; and more.
Family-friendly” and “luxury” are not mutually exclusive terms — at least not at The Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real Resort in Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic.
I observed this firsthand as I entered the check-in lounge. There, instead of sporting tired, travel-weary faces, a family of four was smiling — even laughing. The oldest child was checking her e-mail at the computer stations. Her younger brother was transfixed by the array of small bites out on display. Mom and dad were seated at one of three check-in desks, enjoying their complimentary cocktails and chatting with the front-desk staff.
One Bedroom Master Suite with Private Patio // © Sol Melia
It’s that kind of attention to detail that really pays off for families — and even singles like myself — who stay here.
The Reserve is a resort-within-a-resort, part of the all-inclusive Paradisus Palma Real Resort. It has its own network of pools; an amazing 24,401-square-foot YHI Spa; a fitness center; a tricked-out, 7,800-square-foot Kids Zone; three a la carte restaurants and three bars; a poolside snack grill; and a private Family Concierge lounge. The only thing it doesn’t have is its own private beach — it shares an idyllic stretch of Bavaro Beach with other guests of Paradisus Palma Real Resort.
The Reserve concept originated at the Paradisus Punta Cana Resort in Punta Cana, but here at Palma Real, it was expanded and refined even further when The Reserve opened in December 2008. Staying here felt akin to staying at a condominium resort, as though I were living in my own private vacation rental.
All of The Reserve’s 190 suites include a separate living area with sofa bed; individually controlled air conditioning and a ceiling fan; a private terrace or balcony; at least one Jacuzzi for two; two flat-screen televisions; a CD and DVD player; a fully stocked minibar; high-speed Internet access; and 24-hour room service. For a family-friendly resort, its rooms are luxurious and elegant, accented with mahogany furniture, marble flooring and lush, printed fabrics.
My Reserve One Bedroom Master Suite Swim Up, was so big I didn’t know what to do with all 1,077 square feet of it. While slightly too large for just myself, it would be perfect for families. It had its own separate dining area with a full-size dining table, two separate bathroom areas, a private patio and outdoor garden area for entertaining, two Jacuzzis (one outside and one indoor), direct pool access and a room connection with a One Bedroom Suite.
Perhaps the biggest perk for families, however, is the Family Concierge service at appointed Family Concierge Suites. These suites come with the assistance of a private butler who can coordinate all activities, a kids’ beach kit upon check-in, children’s turndown service, walkie-talkies, free Wi-Fi and much more.
Eventually, however, clients will want to venture outside of their rooms and, once they do, they won’t be disappointed.
The Kids Zone is a highlight for families. I especially loved its “mini” bar with lowered chairs and a menu of healthful fruit smoothies. It also boasts a separate game room equipped with state-of-the-art monitors and Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii consoles. (Adult clients will be pleased to know they aren’t left out, either: There are video games just for kids and for adults, too.) The activity room for children ages 1-4 is filled with toys and games and there is also a separate nursery area for the youngest guests. The Kids Zone also serves as the epicenter for family activities, including bike rentals, a bounce house, a rock-climbing wall, a playground, air hockey, ping pong and board games. In front, there is a kids’ pool surrounded by waterslides and other water equipment.
For relaxation, nothing beats the idyllic YHI Spa. Walking into it felt like I was entering a tropical retreat, complete with bamboo walkways that seemed to float above trickling waterfalls and streams. Here, I indulged in an invigorating Fresh Herbs Eco-Facial and participated in the spa’s hydrotherapy ritual — a circuit of water-based therapies best utilized before a treatment. The Ayurvedic-based spa has a total of 10 treatment rooms and all rooms feature outdoor showers.
The Reserve guests have exclusive access to The Reserve’s facilities, as well as those at the Paradisus Palma Real, including its restaurants. Perhaps the only downside to staying at The Reserve is the somewhat longer walk to the beach, but for parents who want to keep a watchful eye on their kids while they swim, the pools at The Reserve may be a better option anyway.
All in all, The Reserve is best suited for families who want an all-inclusive experience that doesn’t forsake luxury for family friendliness. I can’t wait to go back, only I hope that when I do, I won’t be alone.