The circle is the universal symbol of wholeness and perfection and all-inclusive The Grand Reserve at Paradisus by Melia Hotels in Punta Cana—with its circular design, classy but approachable vibe and an overall aura that magically expels stress—crushes that perfection goal. Winter, spring, summer or fall, there’s no bad time to make the easy trek to the Dominican Republic, so let us show you why you’ll want to be one of the first to family-bond in these uber-cool Caribbean digs.

photo: The Grand Reserve from above via Maria Chambers

The Need-to-Know Room Specs
The Grand Reserve wants you to have a think-free vacation, so the experience is all-inclusive. And, keep in mind, Melia Hotels is hyper-focused on shattering the perception that runs rampant about all-inclusive vacations by offering guests an unparalleled luxurious experience.

photo: The Grand Reserve kitchen via Maria Chambers

The resort has 288 expansive, brand new suites ranging from 800 to over 3,000 square feet. Suites feature either one or two bedrooms with living and dining spaces, making them ideal for entertaining or having adult-only time after kids slip off to dreamland. Families will also enjoy the soaking tubs and walk-in showers, private balconies with hydro-massage whirlpool tubs and outdoor relaxation spaces. A family-favorite is the swim-up suites with one or two bedrooms and direct access to an exclusive pool with lush garden areas and a solarium.

photo: Greyerbaby via Pixabay

On-Site Activities
Let’s be honest. All the kids care about is where to find the giant sandbox called beach and a cannonball-worthy pool. Guests of The Grand Reserve have access to the Beach Club along the vibrant Bavaro Beach via hotel shuttle or short walk, a large pool in the hotel’s center and Blast! AquaFun Park, a kid’s adventure park with games and slides.

While parents can hop in the pool for a bit of Woga (water yoga, of course), kids can work their sillies out at Rhythm & Moves. This fun-fueled class helps kids explore how their bodies move to music and develops self-awareness, balance, coordination, and concentration skills as they interpret music and groove to the sweet beats.

Schedule a break from family time in favor of an afternoon spent at one of the three spas or simply relax poolside with a book while the kids play the day away at the Kids Club. Trained Kids Club staff lead the kids in group and crafting activities, 5 p.m. daily rock climbing and bungee jumping, help them tend to a small garden, take them swimming and feed them lunch from a kid-friendly (but healthy) buffet. Their facilities and planned activities are likely to rival any you’ve experienced before in cleanliness, organization and scope.

Where to Dine
The dining options are almost endless—ranging from flip flops and beach coverup casual to sophisticated—and the food is prepared with all ages in mind. With 14 restaurants on site and 24-hour room service, there’s no chance you’ll find yourself feeling hungry. Onsite you’ll find a gourmet market, an impossibly cool steakhouse, ceviche and sushi bars, teppanyaki and robatayaki tables, as well as two new concepts for Melia: a classic American sports bar and a modern take on your classic cigar bar with a premium selection of cigars, liqueurs and artisanal cocktails.

Stay at One, Play at 3
A stay at The Grand Reserve means guests get an all-access pass to the facilities, services and restaurants at the neighboring The Reserve and Paradisus Palma Real resorts. Both are accessible via golf cart shuttle or a 10-minute walk along paths. Combined, the additional two resorts add to your experience 15 restaurants including Passions by Martin Berasategui, who holds ten Michelin stars, YHI Spa and YHI Spa Oriental Garden, 5 pools and complimentary Life Enriching Experiences (think wine tastings and sushi-making classes).

photo: Ocean Adventure’s Pirate Adventure via Maria Chambers

Where to Play Outside of the Resort
While there’s enough to keep you entertained on property, a change of scenery and island exploration is never a bad idea. And, why not let pirates show you the lay of the land? Ocean Adventures’ 3-hour Caribbean Pirates adventure will have you snorkeling with sharks and interacting with stingrays at Shark Island, exploring coral reef and following treasure maps. Just don’t get too comfortable—you never know when rival pirates will attack. Included in the price is unlimited beverages, hotel pickup and drop-off, fruits and light snacks. As a bonus, kids come along for free.

photo: Heli tour via Maria Chambers

An ocean-side snooze, toes dug deep in the sand is a not-so-shabby way to tick off another dreamy day, nor is taking to the skies to survey the ocean blues and lush landscapes. Gain a full appreciation for the beauty of the Dominican with a birds-eye view on a helicopter tour with Punta Cana Helicopters. Options range from 10 to 40-minute sightseeing tours to adventure eco tours that include ziplining, refreshing dips in natural pools and a 2-hour boogie ride.

Best Time to Explore the DR
Because Punta Cana is in the Caribbean, the weather is beautiful all year round. If you’re looking to chill in this hotspot during a quieter, less crowded time, consider traveling March-May when the highs average in the low 80s. Hurricane season is June-November, but your chance of getting gorgeous weather is better than average. The warmest months on the island are June-September. If you’re considering visiting during peak season, December-February, it’s advised to plan several months out.

Travel tips

  • Electric outlets are the same as in the US and Canada, so no need to worry about bringing adapters for all those electronics you won’t need because you’ll be outside soaking up the sunshine!
  • The language spoken on the island is Spanish, but most resort employees are fluent in English, so communicating won’t be a problem. But, hey! It’d be a good time to test out those two years of Spanish your parents made you take in high school, si?
  • Shuttles are available from the Punta Cana Airport, which is about 25 miles south of the resort. Be sure to schedule this through the resort prior to your arrival.
  • Set expectations—some kids dream of shell collecting when you tell them a beach vacation is on the horizon. You won’t likely find shells of any significance on Punta Cana’s beaches.
  • The selection of sunscreens is limited, so if you have a favorite or have kids with sensitive skin, consider bringing your own from home.
  • The residents of Dominican are welcoming to tourists and warm in spirit, especially the Melia staff, so don’t be afraid to sidle up to a local for good chats.

The Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real
Playa de Bávaro
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Online: melia.com

—Maria Chambers

Photos and renderings provided by The Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real unless otherwise noted

This trip was paid for by Melia Hotels International and all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.