For Americans, most vacations to the Dominican Republic begin after exiting Punta Cana's airport and likely don't venture much farther than one of the scores of all-inclusive resorts located no more than a 30-minute drive away. In fact, nearly 1.6 million U.S. passengers arrived in Punta Cana in 2018, accounting for about 70% of the year's 2.2 million total U.S. visitors to the Dominican Republic.
About an hour's drive west, just under 12,000 Americans last year flew into La Romana, where service by European and Canadian carriers meant the bulk of arrivals were from Italy (37,402, or about 45% of the country's total Italy arrivals) and our neighbors to the north (19,151 visitors). And while many Americans do make the trip from Punta Cana to La Romana, as I did recently, I think it's safe to say they won't outnumber the Punta Cana crowd anytime soon.
But the recent addition of the Hilton La Romana to the region's resort landscape could very well give Americans, and other vacationers, reason to head west.
Last year, Playa Hotels and Resorts expanded its partnership with Hilton Worldwide, which included rebranding the Dreams La Romana as the Hilton La Romana, where I recently stayed for a media trip hosted by Playa.
Back in January, I took a tour of the property just as renovations were beginning on the 750-room property's adults-only section. Freshly painted exteriors and a suitably brighter guestroom palette greeted our group of travel writers during our stay this month.
The Hilton La Romana offers several adults-only dining venues. At Sakura, our group enjoyed a sushi appetizer and a teppanyaki dinner with all the expected food-chopping, knife-twirling showmanship. And on the subject of adult consumption, a predinner class offered a fun, quick history of Dominican rum and, even more fun, samples of several varieties.
For visitors to La Romana, one hugely popular excursion is to Saona Island, which is part of the country's Cotubanama National Park. Our Saona boat excursion with Scuba Caribe ($69 per person) included a stop for guests to wade in the Caribbean waters before continuing the 90-minute ride to the island, for a couple of hours in the sun and a buffet with peas and rice, chicken, fruit and other items -- and beer and cocktails, of course, most of which are complimentary. Scuba Caribe's boats pick up and drop off Hilton La Romana guests right on the hotel's beach, a welcome timesaver.
The property offers a number of wedding packages. The Deluxe La Romana Bliss package ($10,400), for example, is available for groups of up to 40 and includes a cake, styling for the couple and a one-hour cocktail party. For more information, see https://hiltonbyplaya.eweddingcalendar.com.
The hotel's transformation continues through December, when renovations to the family side are scheduled for completion.
Starting rates are $191 per person, per night for adults-only rooms, $224 per person, per night for family bookings.