It’s a long journey to the Caribbean, and when Christopher Columbus first discovered the island of Dominican Republic in 1492, he was probably a bit exhausted too! But when you step out into the DR’s largest international airport, Punta Cana, the air-con that hits you is a welcome refreshment and any jet lag will be banished within the short twenty minute transfer to the modern and inviting Margaritaville Island Reserve Resort.
Situated within the exclusive gated community at the eastern tip of the country lies the Cap Cana, the Coconut Coast: named after its 20-mile ribbon of palm-lined sand that fringes the Atlantic Ocean. It has become a destination of choice for serious sun worshippers; but even if you’re not here to just top up your tan, the rainforests; waterfalls and open water caves are bound to impress.
Along with the five star Margaritaville Island Reserve Resort, which opened in 2021, this exclusive suburb boasts the largest marina in the Caribbean, with 1000 slips, a super-yacht berth and Venetian vaporetti (water buses) to transport you to the hard-to-reach bays. You can also enjoy an eight-hole round of golf at the sea-facing Punta Espada green.
However, you might not want to leave Margaritaville – a lifestyle brand inspired by the lyrics of singer-songwriter and best-selling author Jimmy Buffett. A pro at making people feel good, the resort offers everything you could want from an all-inclusive, stress free holiday. It may not be subtle (you’ll be greeted with a gigantic turquoise flip-flop sculpture on arrival, and inspirational quotes dot the hotel walls everywhere) but guests are here for a good time, and that is what they get, with a choice of Adults Only (Hammock) family (Wave) offerings.
Nothing is too much trouble for the staff, who serenade you with an upbeat flash mob dance routine upon arrival and, once you have your bearings, you can choose your bar, pool or lounger and set up camp. Or perhaps you’d prefer a stroll on the crystal sands on one of the world’s greatest beach strips, within easy reach of the hotel. Get up early and watch the sunrise, and you’ll feel like you’re in a Bounty commercial, with just you and the swaying palm trees, endless ocean, and sugar soft sand underfoot. If you’re planning a dip, however, it’s wise to wear water shoes in case of corals; you should know, also that beautiful Juanillo beach can receive an influx of sargassum in seaweed season, although it’s generally confined to a narrow band along the shoreline, and is groomed daily by beachcombers.
With an impressive number of restaurants included in the package, it’s worth checking out the menus on the Resort’s App, so you can plan your days accordingly. Most can be found on the pedestrianised promenade situated near the entrance of the resort, and they range from traditional Italian at Frank & Lola’s to smokehouse burgers and the in-house craft brew at LandShark Brewery and Grill. You can also enjoy a leisurely breakfast, long lunch or decadent dinner at The Boat House- a nautical-themed venue, which is self-serve so you can choose exactly what you like. The only time you need to pre-book is the JWB Steakhouse, the uber-trendy, Asian-fusion A-Lam-Bik, or the floating taco bar which needs to be seen to be believed! Served on a mammoth tray in the pool, you and up to twelve friends can enjoy platters of fish, meat or veggie corn snacks and spice them up however you like.
The 5 O’Clock swim-up bar is the hub of adult entertainment and music in the daytime, and is great for mingling, but drinks are also served to your sun bed if you’re mid tanning session or just enjoying some book-time. Caribbean eatery, Rum Runners, hosts regular rum tastings, along with local fare such as plantain cups stuffed with shredded beef, the Cajun Seafood Bowl, and local Rum Pudding. More than likely, the music here will get you swaying to the reggae beats, and you may even be tempted to have a go at the merengue (if you’ve ever tried Zumba you’ll feel right at home!) If you feel like you need some lessons before you brave the dance floor, keep your eyes peeled on the App for a poolside routine with a pro.
You don’t have to be in party-mode for the duration of your stay: the hotel’s Adult’s Only villa collection means that you can upgrade your experience, and have access to a private lagoon and S.O.S. swim-up bar exclusively for villa guests. The ground floor apartments all come with a spacious patio with loungers and direct access to the pool, whilst the second floor accommodations all have oversized terraces with private pools. With 13 luxury room types to choose from, including honeymoon suites, guests also have 24/7 access to the resort’s Island Ambassador, who is just a phone call away and available for all day room-service.
With weekly entertainment, the expansive St Somewhere Spa and fully equipped gym and tennis courts, Margaritaville Island Reserve adds another layer to luxury all-inclusive, and you may not make it out to explore the stunning scenery or Pico Duarte, the Caribbean’s tallest mountain. But if flying and flopping is what you fancy, this is the perfect spot.
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