Punta Cana gets a new Chic flagship

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The Mermaid Pool at Chic Punta Cana has a glass viewing wall to watch swimmers go by.
The Mermaid Pool at Chic Punta Cana has a glass viewing wall to watch swimmers go by.

It's sexy, trendy and upscale, with a high-energy vibe.

It's also chic, which befits its name, Chic Punta Cana, the first of the adults-only Chic resorts in the Royalton Luxury Resorts brand, part of Blue Diamond Resorts' portfolio of properties in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico.

I wasn't sure before I arrived at the Dominican Republic resort if I would fit the demographic of the typical Chic guest or the resort itself, but within an hour of check-in, I knew all was well.

It definitely had high enough energy, and the rest, well, it's in the eye of the beholder.

The energy factor came into play right after I checked into my oceanfront room on the third floor of the Diamond Club section of the resort.

Crowd noises erupted from the main pool below.

When I peered over my balcony, what I saw was an enormous layer of white, bubbly foam reaching several feet high and spanning half of the pool.

The foam spewed out of a machine at one end of the pool, near the DJ, dancers and loud music.

Guests were ducking in and out of the frothy mixture, deftly holding aloft Presidente beers and pineapple margaritas in the waist-high water.

I did not join that crowd but celebrated with their friends poolside, one of whom said it was the main reason she and her spouse had chosen the resort.

The adults-only resort hosts foam parties by the pool on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons.
The adults-only resort hosts foam parties by the pool on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. Photo Credit: Gay Nagle Myers

The foam party is held Wednesday and Saturday afternoons.

"We used to offer it just on Wednesdays, but guests who arrived on Thursdays for a few days kept requesting it, so we added the Saturday party," said Jonathan Iriarte, the hotel manager.

The foam party is just one of many guest activities at the 320-room resort on Uvero Alto beach, a 45-minute drive from the Punta Cana airport.

Chic Punta Cana opened in December 2014 on the site of the former 100-room Colony Bay Hotel. The resort is a mix of existing buildings and 60% new construction, although all of the older structures were completely renovated and updated.

What I liked, and what I found most guests enjoyed, was the size of the resort and the ease of getting around to the casino, spa, various restaurants, pools and activity centers without needing a GPS.

A couple from Houston who had a timeshare elsewhere wanted to try a new place on their vacation this year.

"We like this resort," they said. "It's small, there are no kids, we can find our way around, the staff is wonderful, food is great and there are lots of flights to get us here."

Their sentiments were echoed by others I talked to, including an older couple from Ottawa, who were returning guests.

"We came here last year right after it opened, and now we are back," the wife said. "We are in one of the swim-up suites this time, and it's just perfect."

A female traveler, also from Ottawa, told me she had read plenty of reviews before booking the resort. "As a solo traveler, I feel very welcome here."

So, too, did two women on their honeymoon. "We are very happy here," one said. "The resort is just what we wanted."

Just what every manager wants to hear, and Iriarte hears it often.

"We thought when we first opened that our guests would be primarily young people, but we're finding we appeal to adults of all ages," he said.

A luxury junior suite in the Diamond Club section at Chic Punta Cana.
A luxury junior suite in the Diamond Club section at Chic Punta Cana.

"Our main markets are the U.S. and Canada, followed by a mix of Europeans and those from Latin America," Iriarte said. "We're getting many travel agents who stay here or stop by for a site inspection."

Chic Punta Cana offers several unique features, including the C/X Culinary Experience. It's one of six a la carte restaurants, but this one has a twist.

C/X seats 14, requires reservations, has seatings at 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m., offers a seven-course meal paired with appropriate wines and features an open kitchen so that diners can see their courses being prepared. The chef explains each course and the wines that accompany it.

The meal is priced at $65 per person, one of the few extra-charge amenities at the resort.

Another is the on-site oxygen bar, Detox, which, for $10 for 10 minutes, offers a blast of scented pure oxygen to clear the head. It also works for hangovers, I was told.

Other facilities include the Mermaid Pool, reserved for Diamond Club guests, which features a glass viewing wall; coolers at the poolside cabanas that include a built-in safe and chargers for electronic devices and resortwide, complimentary WiFi access, even on the beach.

In the restaurant area, I heartily recommend the lamb course at Tagine, the Middle Eastern restaurant with Moroccan decor (the only one in Punta Cana), the sushi and ceviche at Pescari and the grilled vegetables at Elements, the buffet restaurant. 

The author holds Maria, Chic Punta Cana’s 3-year-old resident iguana.
The author holds Maria, Chic Punta Cana’s 3-year-old resident iguana.

My stay was too short to sample the steaks at Hunter, the pasta at Vespa or the burgers at the poolside Munchies.

What I did do was indulge in a paraffin pedicure at the Royal Spa, where my feet were wrapped in plastic bags full of hot, melted wax. The wax hardened, and after it was removed, my feet were massaged and toes polished. What a treat!

I also briefly cradled Maria, the resort's 3-year-old resident iguana, an experience I will not repeat. She was friendly enough, but very scaly and did not appeal to me.

The Chic brand is likely to pop up in other destinations, "possibly in Mexico and in Panama," according to Iriarte.

If so, its Punta Cana resort will serve the brand well as its flagship property.

Rates start at $200 per person, per night, double. See www.bluediamondresorts.com/en/Our-Brands/CHIC.

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