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A Peaceful, Post-Pandemic Refuge in the Dominican Republic

    All photos courtesy of Palladium Hotel Group.

    Originally published in Fathom

    CAP CANA, Dominican Republic – My visit to TRS Cap Cana was the perfect antidote to pandemic fatigue. The family-owned boutique hotel nestled within an azure marina caters to travelers who want a quiet, adults-only refuge, with all-inclusive and curated amenities. (Parents with kiddos have plenty of other Punta Cana resorts to choose from, such as TRS Turquesa or Barceló Bávaro Palace, both of which have a drop-off kids club, playground, and kiddie pool). I like my waves and my accommodations calm, so this resort was my cup of MamaJuna (a Dominican spirit made from rum, red wine, and honey, spiced with tree bark and herbs).

    The vacation vibe began immediately at check in, where my five traveling companions and I were greeted with mojitos. As we sipped cocktails on the lobby terrace, I could feel my stress melting away in the heat. While waiting for our rooms, we ducked into the air conditioned lobby café for an iced coffee. The barista said guests can get a tutorial on how to brew the famously robust Dominican cafecito. (Tip: A proper abuela-approved coffee requires roasting beans and brewing in a moka pot, called a “greca” around here.) The closest beach, Juanillo, is a five-minute shuttle away.

    When our rooms were ready, we were introduced to our butlers — or as I came to think of them, our on-call genies. The butlers were our 24/7 go-tos for everything: making dinner and spa reservations, booking tours, packing and unpacking, stocking the mini-fridge, serving our favorite drinks by the pool. When I had a problem with my room card, my butler was a speed-dial away with a replacement. (I was glad I saved the butler’s number in my phone as soon as I meet him.)

    Our rooms were the Junior Suite Swim Up category, with a hammock and chaises on the patio by the lap pool that overlooked the fountains and communal pools. My room had a living area with a pillow-topped sofa, dining table, small kitchen space with mini-fridge and Keurig coffee maker, a walk-in closet, and an elegantly appointed bathroom with a rainforest shower. While these are the most requested rooms, those who want more luxury and space can stay in an Ambassador Suite — two bedrooms, a living room, indoor/outdoor shower, patio jacuzzi, a fully stocked wet bar, and stunning views from the wraparound terrace.

    The plate of local fruit and chocolates left to welcome me in my room looked inviting, but I left it temporarily untouched in favor of a dip in the lap pool and shower before lunch at Boulevard Fishing Lodge. A cool breeze from the marina fanned us as we watched yachts and fishing boats cruising into the canal. I ordered quinoa and avocado salad from Woscar, our affable waiter, who surprised us with an amuse bouche of stuffed grilled zucchini.

    We were fully rested by our second day and ready to take a shuttle to sister resort TRS Turquesa in Punta Cana to rock out at the Chic Cabaret restaurant and club. We had a welcome cocktail outside the club, where beautiful showgirls twirled in illuminated costumes as a DJ spun. Around 8 p.m., we were ushered inside for the Vegas-style revue. We ate a surprisingly delicious dinner while a talented troupe of scantily-dressed men and women performed a non-stop medley of tunes from the 1960s to the present — from “Hit the Road Jack” and “Proud Mary” to “Faith” and “Vogue” to “Earned It” and “New Rules.” After three hours of head-spinning costume changes, singing, dancing, and acrobatics, the audience was beckoned onto the stage to dance with the performers (we did). The after-show moved outside and the party continued until 1 a.m. I pulled a Cinderella and left around midnight. And though my clubbing days are behind me, I can’t tell you how fun and cathartic it felt to dance with abandon.

    Location

    TRS Cap Cana is on the east coast of Punta Cana, surrounded by 6,000-plus acres of tropical forest. Cap Cana is considered one of the safest areas in the Dominican Republic.

    Hotel Style

    The resort is completely chill — conducive to a hammock nap with a drinks-by-the-marina-at-sunset vibe. Because of its proximity to the town of Cap Cana, you feel like a part of the local culture rather than a typical tourist (or, at minimum, you’ll feel culture adjacent).

    This Place Is Perfect For

    Weddings, honeymooners, solo travelers, and grown-ups in need of childless R&R (adults only resort, so no floaties in the pools). One female guest from New York City was there on her own for a post-divorce vacation. Guests are a combo of Americans (majority), Europeans, and Latinos, including Dominicans.

    But Not So Perfect For

    People who want a beach resort. A hotel shuttle makes regular trips to Juanillo, a secluded beach five minutes away.

    What’s on Site

    Restaurants, bars, café, spa, small gym, upper and lower pools with swim-up bars (volleyball nets upon request), and a marina beach.

    Food + Drink

    The resort has a variety of restaurants and cuisines to choose from, including Capricho for self-serve buffet or a la carte breakfast; Helios or Fishing Lodge Boulevard for lunch; El Gaucho, an Argentinian restaurant for carnivores; and Tentazino, an Italian restaurant, where I had a tasty seafood risotto at dinner. An outdoor grill serves poolside snacks; the café provides croissants and sandwiches. The lobby bar offers classes on rolling Dominican cigars; Xtra Time Sports Bar has a big-screen TV, darts, and foosball. Room service is available 24 hours a day.

    The Rooms and Suites

    The 115 luxury suites have terraces overlooking the marina. The decor is modern Mediterranean with vibrant colors of the ocean and sunset. The suites have a free mini-bar, Keurig coffee maker and pods, local fruit and chocolates, and TV with English-speaking channels. The Wifi is free.

    Drawbacks

    No on-site oceanfront. The hotel offers a shuttle to a nearby secluded beach.

    Standout Detail

    The staff is super friendly. Everyone from the housekeeper to the house manager will greet you with a congenial ¡hola! The baristas and bartenders are proud of their local spirits and custom, and seem to genuinely enjoy giving demonstrations for guests about how to mix a Dominican cocktail or brew a cafecito. Our group had a local art teacher give us a workshop on painting sunsets and palm trees on Panama hats.

    What to Do Nearby

    Guests who want to venture outside the resort can book excursions with their butler — cycling, horseback riding, fishing, ziplining at Scape Park, and hiking. You can rent a car if you want to roam on their own.

    Good to Know

    The pools close at 7 p.m., so if you like evening swims, ask for a room with a swim-out pool.

    Getting Here

    Punta Cana International airport is ten minutes away by car. The butlers can schedule airport transports.

    Jodie is an award-winning writer and author based in New York City. You can follow her on Instagram (@jodiegould650) and Facebook. Although Jodie lives in what feels like the center of the world, she travels with anthropological zeal for the love of learning how other people live and what they like to eat and drink.

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