Where the turquoise waters of the Caribbean meet the white sands of Juanillo Beach, you’ll find a playful five-star gem, Margaritaville Island Reserve, Cap Cana.
Home to this all-inclusive tropical island resort, Cap Cana is a gated neighbourhood on the east coast of the Dominican Republic, just 15 minutes from the airport. With 519 suites, including 40 ultra luxe island reserve villas, the resort is large but not overwhelming. It features a family-section (Wave) and an adults-only area (Hammock), set amongst immaculate pools, cabanas and palm trees.
On arrival at Hammock reception, a giant blue flip-flop gives a hint of what’s to come: relaxed California beach bum meets hen party meets luxury paradise resort. Sounds like a lot, right? But it works. Greeted with an ice-cold margarita popsicle and a welcome dance from the endlessly energetic entertainments team, these first five minutes really set the tone.
With a range of accommodation options from spacious rooms to swim up suites and private villas (with their very own dedicated butler for an ultra-exclusive experience), I stayed in a spotlessly clean Paradise room. The décor is fresh, clean and vibrant with a massive comfy bed, small seating area and a make-your-own margarita station. Although after too many all-inclusive days and nights I was much more into the coffee pods and water. Alongside the usual dressing gowns and slippers, each guest receives Margaritaville branded flip-flops. A little too big for me but I hardly removed my own during this very chilled-out stay. A fitting endorsement of the resort’s invitation to escape the every day.
The well-equipped bathroom includes twin sinks, huge walk-in rainforest shower and an endless supply of towels. My favourite spot was the balcony with a stunning view of the sea and palm framed beach, which seamlessly blends into the resort. A hugely comfortable oversized chair was the perfect spot to enjoy the Caribbean sunrise.
A special mention must go to the minibar which you can refill and personalise with beer, fizz and snacks from Joe Merchants, a small general store/coffee shop in the resort. 24-hour room service is also available although limited after breakfast and it doesn’t include alcohol.
Chilled mornings by the pool (or water aerobics for the more energetic) lead to salsa and foam parties in the afternoon. I’d totally recommend the floating taco bar (at an extra cost). A truly unique experience, although hampered by some unusually inclement weather on our particular day. Social butterflies will also love the Five O’clock Somewhere Swim Up Bar with swing seats. Although you may need to watch your balance after a few of those perfectly mixed cocktails.
The cuisine is undoubtedly the star of the show at Margaritaville Island Reserve with 15 food and beverage venues, all part of the hotel’s gourmet inclusive brand. The Boathouse breakfast food display (no such thing as a buffet here) is truly a thing to behold with a massive selection of dishes from around the globe, stations with freshly prepared omelettes and crepes and even a bloody mary and margarita bar. Well, as Jimmy Buffett himself says, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, and it would have been rude not to.
Inclusive a la carte dinner choices include authentic and truly excellent Italian at Frank and Lola’s, Pan Asian at Mon So Wi and a meat-lover’s paradise, JWB Steakhouse. I’d also recommend lunch at the adults-only Rum Runners restaurant where you’ll be presented with the most perfect salad bar (including fresh sashimi) while you wait for delicious Caribbean cuisine. My biggest disappointment was having no time to enjoy a Burger in Paradise. Cheeseburgers and frickles with a view, and then some.
Lazy days soon become tequila nights with entertainment in the Punch bar area. The performers’ energy levels are off the scale and really get the Caribbean party started. Night owls can continue into the early hours at Landshark Bar and Grill, where they brew their own selection of beers.
If you’re feeling a bit ‘morning after the night before’, the St Somewhere Spa offers a range of treatments in a tranquil setting or sweat it out at the incredibly well-equipped Fins Up! Fitness Centre.
Whether you’re honeymooning, taking a girls’ trip or looking for the perfect wedding venue, Margaritaville Cap Cana really has it all. Jimmy Buffett’s take-it-easy lyrics pepper the resort walls and I really think we could all do with a bit more of his philosophy in our lives!
For more information and booking visit the Margaritaville Resorts website.
Nickelodeon Resort Punta Cana
If you’re looking for family-oriented luxury, head down the road to Nickelodeon Resort Punta Cana. I promise you will not be disappointed. Combining beautiful suites, massive infinity pools and a gorgeous beach with brilliant staff and top-notch food, no member of the family will be left wanting. Grown-ups will love the Bali-style spa whilst the kids can enjoy Aqua Nick Water Park and breakfast with Spongebob. The town square comes alive in the evenings with music, activities and lashings of rum cocktails. In fact, leave the kids at home. This solo luxe traveller could have stayed all summer!