Breezes Punta Cana gets SuperClubs spruce-up

Freelance writer Paul Felt visited SuperClubs' Breezes Punta Cana Beach Resort, Spa & Casino in the Dominican Republic. His report follows:

fter several visits to the Dominican Republic, including two previous stays in Punta Cana, I was accustomed to all-inclusive resorts built as sprawling, low-rise villages.

I also knew that getting around these resorts involved a lot of walking.

Expecting another mega-village formula, I was surprised to find that the 733-room Breezes Punta Cana Beach Resort, Spa & Casino was contained in one, five-story building -- and a nice-looking one at that, created in the spired style of an Arabian palace.

Sixty percent of the property's guest rooms overlook the water, according to general manager Lars Geweyer.

The lobby is tall, airy and elegant, and this ambience continues in the open-air public spaces, including an oceanview restaurant and bar.

Under the Breezes flag and new management by SuperClubs, the former Sol de Plata Punta Cana Beach Hotel, built in April 2000, is expanding from four to six restaurants, Geweyer said.

Breezes' circus workshops and trapeze instruction inspire guests to reach new heights in their vacation experiences. If a fear of high places overwhelms, Breezes offers plenty of other sports options. A Japanese and Tex-Mex restaurant on the beach are being added to complement the buffet, beachside and Italian and French specialty restaurants.

The specialty restaurants require reservations at least one day in advance.

Other enhancements to the resort include an oceanview fitness center, a swim-up pool bar and three hot tubs.

Geweyer said he expects the resort's guest demographics to change under SuperClubs' management -- from 10% to 12% coming from the U.S. under the previous management of Germany-based LTI International Hotels to 30% under SuperClubs.

Where am I?

The property's single-building layout is confusing (even my bellman got lost). I found the interior courtyard in the guestroom complex the key to getting around the resort.

The secret is to start from the courtyard's interior, which has plenty of visual clues, rather than try to navigate the labyrinthine, cryptically numbered room corridors.

What's to do

From my top-floor balcony, the view of the courtyard and pool, sparkling in sunlight, was as enjoyable as the beach views. The courtyard features a large, irregularly shaped pool in its center. A casual-fare restaurant and bar are nearby.

Between the pool and the hotel is an elevated platform for daily aerobics classes and afternoon dart tournaments.

The new swim-up pool bar, hot-tub area and indoor fitness center opened shortly after my visit.

But the beach is the star attraction at Breezes Punta Cana, and there's lots of it for walking and sunning.

Parasailing, circus workshops and rock-wall climbing are offered on site.

I decided on parasailing, which I'd been told offered 10 minutes of extreme thrills and required few skills.

Strapped into a parachute harness, off I went, higher and higher, a contemporary Icarus, soaring over waters of unfathomable depths.

I shouted to the boat driver below, hoping he would cut his speed and let me drift down, but my calls of "abajo, abajo (down, down)," dissipated into thin air.

Scratch that activity from my list of favorite things.

Breezes by night

The layout of Breezes Punta Cana enables guests to be casual by day at the beach or pool and glamorous by night over cognac and fine cigars.

By night, most of the action turned to the basement-level casino and discotheque.

The lobby-level bar was active as well, and the nearby hallway became a cigar lounge where guests sampled hand-rolled goods from the cigar shop.

Another wing on the same level houses the entertainment area, anchored by a song-and-dance amphitheater, and where guests played billiards to the accompaniment of a musical combo.

"The hotel caters to everyone, families with and without children, singles, couples," Geweyer said. "There is no limitation whatsoever."

Room key: Breezes Punta Cana Beach Resort, Spa & Casino
Address: Playa Arena Gorda, Carretera Macao, Bavaro Punta Cana, Higuey, Dominican Republic
Phone: (809) 476-7777
E-mail:[email protected]
Web:www.superclubs.com
Reservations: (800) GO SUPER
General manager: Lars Geweyer
Rooms: 733
Built: April 2000
Renovated: $2 million renovation, completed in December 2002.
Location: On Punta Cana's Arena Gorda Beach, 20 miles from Punta Cana International Airport.
Rates: Through April 13, from $130 per person, per night, double, for a gardenview Royale room, to $219 per person, per night, double, for the luxury suite Tropicale. A run of house room is priced at $115 per person, per night, double.
Noteworthy: Excellent value in a popular destination; quiet beach; quality dining and service; compact layout. Convenient long-weekend getaway packages from U.S. gateways with direct service to Punta Cana. More than 50 charter flights per week from U.S. operating to the region this winter.
Not worthy: Compact layout also means more steps to climb than at the village-style resorts. The appeal of on-site activities may wear thin with longer stays. Airport transfers, $16 per person roundtrip, are not included.

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