Wandering between the different areas of the Breathless Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, you might think you've gone from one hotel into the next.
At one of the long, curving pools on the outer edge of the hotel it's all peace and quiet, where adults of all ages relax in lounge chairs or float lazily around the pool, enjoying a cold drink.
But venture into one of the main interior pools, and you might feel like you've stumbled upon an MTV taping during spring break: 20- and 30-somethings crowd the swim-up bar, bobbing their heads to loud hip-hop music and enthusiastically taking part in a resort-organized foam party or pool obstacle course.
Breathless Punta Cana, the flagship resort for the newest AMResorts brand, is an adults-only all-inclusive that is on par with AM's other adults-only resort brand, Secrets. According to Ute Nagl, sales manager for the resort, the Breathless brand was created for those who are looking for a more social, activity-filled vacation, as opposed to a quiet, romantic getaway.
"Breathless is a fun place, a great place for a group of friends or girls' getaways," she said.
The 750-room resort has 11 restaurants, a small casino, nine bars and seven pools. And of course, the hotel sits right on the beach for which Punta Cana is known and offers guests various activity options, including kayaking, windsurfing and kite surfing. Breathless also organizes beach events throughout the week, such as a mud wrestling contest or beach barbecues for "Monday Night Football" broadcasts.
An Xhale club junior suite with an ocean view.
The rooms range from junior to presidential suites, with rates varying depending on the view and guests' desire for additional services. As a guest of the resort during a recent visit, I stayed in an Xhale club junior suite, a corner room with excellent views of the beach, and like all the rooms, a Jacuzzi on the balcony.
Along with many of the other guests, I was looking to escape the bitter New England winter for a few days, and relaxing in a hot tub while watching the waves roll in from the turquoise Caribbean Sea was a pretty good way to go. As a member of the resort's Xhale club, I was afforded access to two private club lounges and two private Xhale club pools as well as a private member restaurant for breakfast and lunch.
During my three-day stay, I was able to try various restaurants — the hotel offers a fairly eclectic range of food options — including a Lebanese spot, a pan-Asian grill and a French restaurant (my personal favorite).
At nights, most of the poolside and beachside bars shut down, and the guests congregate near the hotel's main lobby for the evening's entertainment. The well-attended shows I was able to see included an extremely impressive Cirque du Soleil-like acrobatic show given by local performers.
In keeping with the concept behind Breathless, the resort does not have the quiet, romantic feel that some other adult all-inclusives do. Several guests told me their travel agents had specifically recommended it as a place that wasn't exclusively for couples.
The resort has made efforts to attract singles, including eliminating the singles supplement during low season (Aug. 23 through Dec. 23) and holding activities geared toward singles during that time. In addition, the lobby bar, Wink, is pitched as a place for those looking to make connections.
And during my stay, several things stood out as the resort's efforts to appeal to those looking for a vacation with a little spice: the hotel gift shop has a small room for adult toys and lingerie, the cable package featured two channels with adult content and the nightclub hosted an erotic show on Friday night.
With so many resorts to choose from in Punta Cana, AMResorts is hoping that the Breathless brand will attract people who may have avoided resorts as being too "couple-y."
According to Nagl, the impetus for the new brand came at the suggestion of travel agents: "They would say, 'We love the Secrets brand, but we need something for our other clients … a resort that's fun, where I can send the guys traveling together or smaller groups."
Nagl said AMResorts created an advisory board, comprising travel agents, AMResorts personnel and tour operators. The final product, she said, "was actually something that was created in the hearts and minds of AMResorts together with travel agents."
The second Breathless resort is under construction and is scheduled to open on Mexico's Riviera Maya in 2016.