After a recent visit to the Dominican Republic by Caribbean Journal, it appears as though new COVID-19-related safety measures are making hotel guests feel comfortable booking at AMResorts’ two hottest properties in the country.
CJ was on hand recently as AMResorts, an Apple Leisure Group company, officially reopened Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana following a $36 million renovation.
We stayed at Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana and took a tour of the new Dreams Macao Beach Punta Cana development, which first launched to the public on March 23 before having to shut down soon after, due to the coronavirus. It officially reopened on July 15.
At the time of CJ’s stay at the all-inclusive Secrets Royal Beach, the occupancy was about 20 percent, representing about 200 people, said Luis Nunez, regional commercial director of the Dominican Republic for AMResorts.
That number is actually more impressive than it appears considering the hotel’s occupancy, like all AMResorts hotels, is now capped at 60 percent and that travelers are still getting their feet wet vacationing during the pandemic.
Nunez said when hotels come close to hitting 40 percent, management will close off the cheaper rooms and even consider raising rates to maintain the cost of operating the resorts.
Nunez said most guests were tested at the airport via breathalyzer equipment made in Israel. If a guest gets sick at the hotel, they are brought to an isolated room, treated by a doctor and then sent to a hospital, said Nunez.
“It makes guests a little more comfortable eating, drinking and dancing with other people when they know they were recently tested at the airport,” he said.
During our stay, CJ noticed that many of the guests, which included U.S. travel advisors and even the president of the Dominican Republic, were engaging in social distancing and mask wearing. The reopening ceremony consisted of a panel with tourism executives that was held in-person and virtually.
As far as rooms go, we highly recommend the one we stayed in, an upper-level Preferred Club Junior Suite Tropical View room. This category ranges in size from 495 to 581 square feet. It features views of the gardens surrounding the resort from a private balcony or terrace.
These rooms come with either one king or two double beds, and feature all the upgraded Preferred Club amenities.
Here are some of the most notable amenities the Preferred Club suites offer: Personalized check-in and check-out with the hotel’s concierge service; “Preferred,” or VIP, status and amenities; an upgraded mini-bar and room service menu; and upgraded bath amenities.
“We were given a Preferred Club swim out, used our pool every day and night,” said Sally Jane Smith, co-owner of the TravelSmiths travel agency in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. “What a great job they did on this property. I highly recommend the Preferred Club.”
As far as dining goes, there are no reservations required at any of the restaurants. Guests can choose from seven dining venues, including five gourmet a la carte restaurants. There are also 24-hour dining options, including late night bites next door at Now Larimar’s Carnival Buffet.
While we didn’t get to dine at all restaurants, our favorites were Himitsu, which served gourmet Pan Asian fare, along with a pretty cool cooking demonstration, and Bordeaux, which served French cuisine.
As far as safety and cleanliness go, guests of Secret Royal Beach, and all AMResorts for that matter, will be reinsured to know of AMResorts’ Cristal International Standards certification, as well as other standards it has met.
According to an AMResorts statement, “We are also working closely with Cristal International Standards to secure an even higher level of quality, safety and hygiene verification prior to re-opening resorts.
“This is the Prevention of the Spread of Infection Audit Protocol (POS), or the Cristal International Standards POSI-Check certification, one of the industry’s most advanced third-party verification standards, and is being implemented across all AMResorts branded properties specifically to address the post COVID-19 world. AMResorts is one of the first to employ the standards.”
The completed $36 million renovation project, which had the support and approval of the Dominican government, signifies continued growth and economic recovery for the destination despite the pandemic.
Guests at Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana will have access to enhanced offerings and amenities.
Some of the most notable include the addition of 90 rooms, bringing the resort total to 639, suites featuring private pool access (a new suite category), marble floors, hydro tubs and updated décor; a new El Patio Restaurant serving gourmet Mexican cuisine; and two additional bars, making the resort total 11.
There are also two new pools. The pools are a 52-meter Olympic-sized pool and a lazy river with a swim-up bar and a connected infinity pool. We expect the Olympic-sized pool to be the more popular considering everything is about spacing out now.
At the time of our stay, CJ noticed about five to 10 people maximum in the larger pool at one time, but nothing like pre-COVID swimming days when people clustered at the swim-up bar.
“Regarding health and safety, this was my second trip to Punta Cana in three weeks and the attention to the COVID-19 safety protocols is consistently better than what we have in the U.S.A.,” said Randy Otts, co-owner of 2 GETAWAY Travel, which is a travel agency based in Klein, Texas.
The reopening of Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana follows that of several other properties in the country, including Zoetry Agua Punta Cana, Dreams Dominicus La Romana, Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa, Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana, and Sunscape Puerto Plata. All AMResorts branded properties in the Dominican Republic will be reopen by the end of the year.
“The beach is spectacular,” Smith told CJ of Secrets Royal Beach. “The property has a really great vibe. We were pleased to be there while the president of the Dominican Republic rededicated the property. This property is ready for clients.”
For more, visit Secrets.