Punta Cana, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Simon Mansion & Supper Club
Tropical white-sand beaches, the best rum known to man, world-class cigars, and fine dining in a bathroom — you really can have it all in the DR! (That last part about the bathroom will make sense soon, I promise.) While historically the Dominican Republic hasn’t enjoyed the same influx of tourism as many of its Caribbean neighbors, scores of new resort construction and development along its picturesque east coast is rapidly increasing its appeal to the western traveler. And with culture as rich, people as friendly and indulgences as decadent as the DR has to offer, we’re astounded it’s taken this long to catch on.
Having opened just three years ago, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Punta Cana has bolstered that effort by providing us Americans a recognizable brand with a reputation we can trust. In true Hard Rock form, the entire compound is immaculate and looks like it could’ve opened yesterday — which is no small feat, considering the acreage over which it sprawls. Whether you’re taking a short stroll or riding one of the shuttles clear across the grounds, you’ll be hard pressed not to stumble upon someone scaping the land.
Equally gorgeous as the landscape of the property are the over 1,700 rooms which scatter across it. Picture white marble floors offset by luxurious dark-hued walls, gigantic bathrooms with party-sized showers, not to mention a Jacuzzi in every suite; it’s hard not to feel like a rock star at the Hard Rock. Even though the LCD TV’s, ridiculously comfy beds and fully-stocked mini-bars could’ve kept me happily holed up for as long as I’d desire, there’s way too much going on at this resort to be staying in for long.
When it comes to play at the Hard Rock Punta Cana, all I have to say is good luck trying to do it all. If relaxation’s your thing, they have twelve swimming pools, many of which are equipped with a swim-up bar (heyo!), but I say why bother with a pool when you have nearly half a mile of turquoise Caribbean coastline at your disposal. In case of sunburn from excessive lounging, the Hard Rock has your indoor entertainment covered. With one of the largest Casinos in the Caribbean, dim light and A/C will have you forgetting that you look like a lobster in no time! Once recovered and ready to get back at it, there’s an 18-hole Jack-Nicklaus-designed golf course (and also mini-golf, in case you find the full-sized version as intimidating as I do), a rock climbing wall, multiple tennis courts and a fitness center that’ll put your local Equinox to shame. Should you be outlandish enough to exercise while on vacation, please feel obliged to reward yourself with a treatment at the 60,000 sq/ft Rock Spa. Complete with 35 spa suites and the most complete hydrotherapy circuit in the Caribbean, there’s not a kink in your body they’re incapable of fixing.
After a day of activity there’s nothing better than a delicious meal to top it all off, and when we say the dining options are limitless at the Hard Rock, we mean just that. Featuring nine all-inclusive restaurants and three café/deli style eateries, it’s nearly impossible to try them all. Not because of the quantity, simply because of how arduous the task is to explore other options once you’ve fallen in love with your first sampling. And though the all-inclusive dining choices are equally revered and nothing short of delectable — the experience of dining at their signature restaurant is not to be missed.
Designed to mimic the eclectically-chaotic beauty of a rock star’s abode, Simon Mansion and Supper Club’s décor beckons you before even entering the front door. With seven distinct dining areas, guests can feast on fixtures of American-Caribbean cuisine from Chef Kerry Simon’s menu in either the Living Room, Library, Studio, Patio or Dining Room — or come with a group and dine privately in the Bedroom or aforementioned Bathroom; don’t worry, there isn’t an actual toilet. With a variety of sections ranging from fresh local seafood and sushi rolls, to twice-fried chicken, basil-crusted racks of lamb and Kobe beef hamburgers, even the most discerning of foodies will feel catered to. The next best part: after dining like a rock star, you can party like one at Oro nightclub just a few steps away.