It’s good to be the Queen.
Well, ok, maybe I’m not the Queen of anywhere, although my parents might disagree. But, that’s the way that the Majestic Elegance makes you feel when you book a room at their Elegance Club level – the adults-only part of the all-inclusive luxury resort situated in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Set on Bávaro Beach, this high-end all-inclusive delivers on hospitality and, well, elegance, throughout your stay.
The result of a boozy brunch barbecue, we booked this trip on a whim and decided to spend our Labor Day Weekend in a more tropical locale than the sweltering humidity of New York. It’s a long story and I’ll spare you the details, but we recruited some additional folks and booked on CheapCaribbean, who I am delighted to say made the booking process painless. We had 3 credit cards and 2 different airports of origin, and their customer service line was amazingly accommodating and helpful. I’d always book a stress-free all-inclusive vacation with them from now on. Not a plug, just love the website.
I’m digressing. Dominican Republic. We went there. And this is a review of our amazing resort.
Pro-Tip #1: Book a room with the Elegance Club level.
The CHECK-In Experience:
Upon arrival in the lobby, we were whisked away by the greeter to the VIP Check-In Area, a separate suite off the main lobby with a buffet of pastries and other snacks, as well as coffee, wine, champagne and other treats. We were invited to take a seat at a table with refreshments as we checked in and were assigned our butler, Bladimir.
After a brief shuffle of rooms since ours was really far from the beach and the other members of our group (it was right near the Elegance pool with swim-up bar, so we ended up keeping it anyway), we were escorted to our room by Bladimir and given a tour of the grounds. All of the amenities were explained to us and he delighted in our speaking Spanish.
Our room was fantastic. We didn’t upgrade to a swim-up (unfortunately), but it was well-appointed with a jacuzzi tub, a separate sitting area, balcony/patio, king-size bed, large walk-in shower and double sink.
It was decorated with fresh flowers for our arrival, and a towel swan adorned our jacuzzi tub. Which we never got an opportunity to use, unfortunately.
By virtue of being an Elegance Club guest, we had a bottle of champagne and champagne glasses waiting for us upon arrival, too. A few days later, we were greeted by our gift – a pair of embroidered Majestic Elegance baseball caps. The hats actually came in handy because the Dominican sunshine is so strong, and my straw fedora had taken an unintentional swim the day before.
Comfy bathrobes and slippers also were provided for our use during our stay. I do wish the robes were a bit bigger – I love oversized bathrobes. I think that the Kimpton hotel chain does this particularly well. But, that’s okay. They were still comfortable and cozy.
Many reviews that I had read complained of the dampness of the room and inadequate air conditioning – even mold. I didn’t experience any of these things during our stay, which was really great because it was a pleasant surprise.
We were a bit worried because our room was on the second floor corner, right near the theater where the nighttime entertainment was held. However, we slept just fine, irrespective of our location.
ADVANTAGES: ADULTS ONLY. VIP CHECK-IN. BUTLER SERVICE. EXCLUSIVE POOLS AND BARS. BEACH AREA HAS BALI BEDS. POOL AREA HAS BALI BEDS. EXCLUSIVE BREAKFAST AND LUNCH OPTIONS. WELCOME GIFT.
The Grounds and Amenities:
The grounds of the resort are kept impeccably clean and green. My one complaint would be that there are so many footpaths, and many of them have dead ends which are not indicated by any signage before you walk about 3 minutes out of the way. With unlimited food at your disposal, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. But, it was a little frustrating trying to walk to a point that you could see, but finding that no paths went there. This was especially true around the pool areas.
One of the true perks of the Elegance Club level was that the Elegance Club had its own pools, bars and beach facilities, separate from the rest of the resort. And the Elegance Club pools exclusively had Bali beds, with fluffy, branded towels and sunscreen service. Admittedly, some of the staff were a little creepy and a little leery at times (and I’m not saying that it’s because I’m attractive in the least – seriously), but they were all really nice.
At night, the paths were well-lit, and the trees were uplit, but I’m not sure I would walk around alone as a woman, regardless. There were a lot of staff who were off duty but hanging around – which made me a bit nervous. I’m not saying that there was a real safety issue, but it just made me a bit uncomfortable.
The FOOD AND DRINK:
First, the booze. Let’s be honest, people. Nobody goes to an all-inclusive resort for the quality of the food. You go for the quantity of the food, and the booze. Mainly the booze.
We made a big rookie mistake and didn’t do this, so I must share this nugget of wisdom. If you don’t take anything else away from this review, let it be this:
Pro-Tip #2: Bring your own large plastic refillable cups or mugs from home.
It’ll cut down on refills needed, melting frozen drinks, etc. If you want to try the local specialty shot, the Mamajuana, then I wish you luck. This mixture of rum, red wine, honey and spices is akin to cough syrup, and sweet drinks like that will give you a wicked hangover. For something a little less sweet, go tropical with a frozen concoction like a Dirty Monkey (chocolate and banana, with rum and ice cream or ice) or ole reliable, piña coladas. Go crazy and get a Miami Vice – half piña colada, half strawberry daiquiri. But, if you’re trying to watch your calories they have premium vodkas and other spirits on hand – just ask. Brugal is the house rum – ask for the Extra Añejo for a little more value. The beer on tap is DR’s own Presidente, which I enjoyed as part of my micheladas…which, I might have mentioned before, are one of my favorite alcoholic elixirs.
Now, for the food. As I said, we weren’t expecting anything really great when we took a break from sunshine and lounging to eat.
The food at the resort was pretty decent, for an all-inclusive. There were certain things that we quickly learned were better than others: the breakfast buffet where there were omelets and crepes made to order, the hibachi grill at 9 Doors, the grill at the restaurant near the beach for lunchtime. Some of the biggest disappointments were the hamburgers at See & Sea. They tasted like meatloaf. However, this isn’t that rare outside of the U.S. (I’ve had terrible burgers in Ireland and England, for example).
We had to check out the sports bar while we were there because Texas was playing Notre Dame, and we’re big Longhorn fans. Unfortunately, we had to trek through the “Caribbean village” over to the Colonial to visit it, because Elegance doesn’t have its own. It was a cute set-up – very themed and it had large projector tvs on the walls. However, they didn’t serve any food and there was no food you could bring in until the late night grill was open at the Majestic Colonial. So eat before you go!
We ate at Limited Gourmand, 9 Doors, Flavours (the buffet), and the big beach party for our dinners. Limited Gourmand was just okay -the food wasn’t spectacular but it definitely tries to be nicer than the other places. The service there was great, though, and they turned out the lights and brought a chocolate cake with sparklers in it for my sister’s birthday.
Our hibachi meal at 9 Doors was really good, if not predictable. Our chef, Jose, was highly entertaining and charismatic, which added to the experience. Our meal consisted of fried rice, veggies, chicken, beef, shrimp, gyoza and sushi.
Pro-Tip #3: Grab a banana from the fruit station at breakfast, head over to the crepe station and have them make you a fresh, hot Nutella and banana crepe from scratch. It was amazing!
Another bonus for the Elegance Club was that the clubhouses/special Elegance Club lounges had all sorts of afternoon snacks and little pastries and sandwiches to grab and tide you over between lunch and dinner. And, we were able to stop by and have the Elegance Club concierge make a dinner reservation for us on the way to the pool.
By far, however, the biggest perk of staying at the Elegance Club is the beach. It has its own separate area of the beach and beach bar, complete with Bali beds and deluxe lounge chairs. It’s off to the left side of the beach (facing the water) and away from the noise of the family areas, which is really nice. It borders the Colonial Club adults-only section of the beach next door.
There were a few cons that didn’t ruin our trip at all, but are worth a mention. Some of the Bali beds had spiders so it’d be a good idea to look at the tops and sides of the wood in the bed frame before you lie down. Some of the pillows were a bit mildewy from being in the shade most of the day, so get there early and find some good ones.
There were waiters and waitresses taking drink orders in case you didn’t want to walk to the bar, and they came around frequently.
The seaweed was not nearly as much of an issue as a lot of prior reviewers noted. Every morning, they bulldoze the beach and pick up the seaweed that’s washed up ashore so that it’s pristine in the mornings. Towards the afternoon, it starts to accumulate again so we just adjusted our routine – beach in the mornings, then around 2 or 3pm, head to the pool with the swim-up bar.
The seaweed in the water can’t be helped. Remember people, it’s an ocean (or sea, depending where you are). You need to get over it. If you’re really freaked out, bring some water shoes or just swim out over it until you reach the sandy part offshore. There were less seaweed-y parts over toward the Colonial side of the beach, so if it really bothers you, you can walk down the beach a bit and enter the water there.
We played beach volleyball one day for a few hours, which was a great time! The other guests were really into it, and the resort staff – the Animation Team – were really energetic and fun.
As far as watersports, there were ocean kayaks for rent. Hubs and I ended up getting a two-person kayak and arguing on what direction to paddle, and found ourselves tipped over and miserable. He also lost his wedding ring, which really sucks.
The life jackets smelled really bad, and although the mini catamarans are free to rent, you need to know how to use them before they will let you rent them, and you have to reserve them ahead of time, with certain times being off-limits. The last time I sailed a mini catamaran (a Hobie Cat) was over 10 years ago, so I was not very confident in my skills and we skipped it. But, if you already know how to do it and have done it more recently, then it’s a cool option.
For more information on booking your stay at the Majestic Elegance, you can visit their website here. Please note that I have not been paid or remunerated in any way for my review, so it is 100% independent.
What about you? Would you stay here? Have you stayed here? Leave a comment and let me know your favorite places to stay in DR?