In the mid-afternoon sun the sand sparkles. The sun is high and hot, and the powdery, white sand nearly twinkles reflecting its brightness. The ocean gently laps the beach, an endless stretch of deep turquoise that blends into the blue of the sky at the horizon.
Perfectly situated to enjoy the view from my beach lounger, there really is nothing wanting from my afternoon, save another icy refreshment. Then ““ as if beckoned by my thoughts alone ““ my butler appears. Just one of the services at Paradisus Resorts that will make you feel like you are receiving the royal treatment.
Part of Melia Hotels International, the Paradisus Resorts brand represents the company's luxury all-inclusive properties. Founded in 1956 in Spain, Melia is one of the world's largest hotel chains with more than 370 hotels in 43 countries.
While the entire resort is considered a luxury all-inclusive, Paradisus Resorts have a handful of booking categories that have different appeal depending on the traveller. Sort of a resort within a resort, Family Concierge offers personalised service for those travelling with children, The Reserve offers suites in a more secluded part of the resort with luxury rooms, and Royal Service is adults-only. Royal Service is not just a service offering, but the hotel considers it a philosophy. This is Paradisus' most intimate and exclusive VIP upgrade experience. Guests are provided with their own private butler who ensures full attention to exclusive resort access, preferential service and privacy.
Arriving at Paradisus Palma Real Golf & Spa Resort, I am quickly whisked from the main reception area to the private Royal Service Lounge. This space serves as the private check-in and check-out area for Royal Service guests, but is also a gorgeously designed lounge space offering quick self-serve refreshments, reading material and business centre.
I am handed a packet with a room key and a cell phone, and introduced to my butler. He introduces himself in a string of rolling, latin syllables, then seeing that we are Canadian asks if we would like to speak English or French as he leads the way to the suite.
The resort has 554 suites, including 200 Royal Service Suites and two Presidential Suites. Royal Service Suites are clustered around the amenities reserved for exclusive use of Royal Service Guests including a private pool, private beach and restaurant.
Stepping just outside of my suite, a winding path of just a few steps takes me to the private Royal Service pool. It's quiet and the beach is just a few steps beyond. The pool is surrounded by Bali beds, draped in natural coloured fabric and dotted with the hotels brightly coloured towels. Many of the lounges are the four-poster type, and tucked along the curving edge of gardens, so they offer a good deal of privacy. These are for Royal Service guests and must be reserved, but the butler makes quick work of making arrangements to reserve our spot of choice.
A little way along the meandering path is the main resort pool ““ reportedly the largest in the Dominican Republic. It is a long, arched shape that offers ample space, and a good swim ““ don't forget to stop halfway for refreshment at the pool bar.
If you are feeling ambitious enough to leave your Bali bed, there are lots of activities. The resort boasts five tennis courts, two paddle courts, wine tastings, salsa and merengue classes, painting and photography courses, sailing, windsurfing, kayaks, horseback riding, a newly renovated gym and personal trainers. The resort also includes unlimited golf green fees at Cocotal Golf and Country Club, and the hotel provides a free shuttle to the golf course as well as to the Palma Real Shopping Village, if you need some retail distraction.
Another sweet privilege of Royal Service guests is access to the Yhi Spa. The spa is very Asian is style, constructed to look like a series of cabins connected by a boardwalk over a pond dotted with brightly coloured Koi. Book a treatment ““ the massage was divine ““ but don't miss the water therapy, which is included for Royal Service guests.
Eventually, it's time for dinner. The resort offers six í la carte restaurants as well as two poolside buffets. Melia has partnered with renowned Michelin (7 stars) Chef Martin Berasategui and opened Passion by Martin Berasategui at Paradisus Palma Real. An innovator of Basque cuisine, Chef Berasategui is know for the use of molecular gastronomy and seafood in his cuisine. He uses fresh, high quality ingredients, turning them into masterpieces through his extremely imaginative and masterful technique. Chef Berasategui is world renowned for his cuisine, and you'll want to make a reservation to dine at this adults-only restaurant during your stay (note, this is not included).
If you are travelling as a family, with children, or for a group vacation, the recently opened The Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real may suit your needs. This resort within a resort has gorgeous suites that come with Family Concierge services to meet the needs of younger guests. Its 42 deluxe suites are huge, with ocean or partial ocean views and can host up to two adults and two children, or one adult and three children. This room level also offers access to Family Concierge pools, waterslides, toddler pool, guest lounge and restaurants, all with family-friendly style.
From my Bali bed, the liquid blue of the ocean beckons. Maybe I'll put down my book and walk in the sand…or just wait for the butler to tell me where I'm having dinner.
If you go:
Paradisus Palma Real Golf & Spa Resort is located about 25 minutes from Punta Cana International Airport.
There is a $10 US entry fee for a tourist card, and a $20 US departure tax. This is sometimes included with airfare, you should verify with your carrier. You will need US cash on hand for these fees.