Fantastic family amenities including a kids' club, arcade room, and a mini-golf course
Constant schedule of concert performances at nightclub and on-site theater
65,000 square feet of meeting and event space
Free parking and Wi-Fi
Massive property is difficult to navigate and requires tons of walking
Most guests rely on infrequent shuttles to get around
Rooms have paper-thin walls
Whirlpool tubs in bedrooms may cause privacy issues for some
Most rooms lack ocean views
With 1,790 rooms, 13 pools and restaurants, 23 bars, an 18-hole golf course, 65,000 square feet of meeting space, a massive spa and fitness center, and the Dominican Republic’s largest casino, the word “huge” doesn’t even seem big enough to describe the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana. But the Hard Rock isn’t all about size — the massive luxury property also happens to be one of the nicest all-inclusives in Punta Cana. It’s equally suitable for families, couples, and those just looking to have a good time. With so much space, it’s easy for each group to find its niche, and the hotel’s mile-long list of amenities ensures everyone will find something to keep themselves occupied. Travelers looking to downsize should check out the equally luxurious Paradisus Palma Real, a much smaller property with fewer amenities and similar nightly rates.
A luxury resort with a rock-n-roll theme and a little something for everyone
From the flaming cauldrons and bright lights at its entrance, to its gigantic lobby with lots of rockstar paraphernalia, nothing about the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana is subtle. The lobby has a rockstar on vacation vibe, with a sky high thatched-roof ceiling, sand-dollar chandeliers, and plenty of rock-n-roll artifacts such as guitars from The Monkees and a Brian Wilson autographed piano. Floor-to-ceiling teal drapery adds texture to the walls, and separates the lobby lounge area from the check-in desk, a huge counter backed by wall-size guitar. Because there are two separate lobbies — the main lobby and another lobby used for group registration — check-in is usually quick and hassle free.
Many travelers assume that the Hard Rock is a hard-boozing, party all night, spring break gone wild type of place. But in reality, the Hard Rock is a luxury property where expensive nightly rates tend to deter the college-age crowd. In reality, the hotel appeals to hedonistic bachelor parties as much as it does to families with young children — and the hotel’s massive size means different groups can peacefully coexist. Couples spend their days at the spa or the adult-only pool, families use the kids' club and the mini-golf course, gamblers spend all night at the casino, music lovers catch a concert at the on-site theater, and partiers head to ORO nightclub in the wee hours. As cliche as it sounds, there really is something for everyone here.
In the northern part of Bavaro, about 35 minutes from the airport
Thanks to its massive size, the Hard Rock occupies a large stretch of sand in the northern part of Bavaro, a touristy section of Punta Cana. Far from any neighboring hotels, the Hard Rock doesn’t feel cramped or congested. Instead, wide open spaces are the name of the game here. The pitfall of the property’s mega sprawl is the amount of time it takes to get from point A to point B. We’re not kidding when we tell you it might take 20 minutes to walk from your room to the nearest pool or restaurant. The hotel has a shuttle system is place, but it’s often slow and unreliable. The hotel is about a 35-minute drive from the airport.
Spacious, with understated decor and paper-thin walls
Not surprisingly, rooms at the Hard Rock are quite large -- they start at over 600 square feet. Bold red, blue, and purple tones are used throughout, and aside from a few zebra-striped pillows or gold framed pictures of Elvis’ wedding, the decor is more subtle than one might expect. Beds are framed by mirrored headboards, etched with a litany of sleep-related song quotes, such as the Eagles’ “It’s just another day in paradise as you stumble to your bed,” or the Eurythmics’ “Sweet dreams are made of this.” Wall-mounted flat-screen TVs hang above a central wooden console, which holds coffeemakers, mini-fridges, and liquor dispensers — all of which are completely free for guests to use. All rooms have big balconies or patios, but most do not have ocean views.
All rooms have large whirlpool tubs somewhere in the bedroom — which is certainly romantic for couples, but may be a privacy concern for families. Bathrooms have marble finishes and double sinks. Some have dual showerheads as well. It’s also fully stocked with Rock Spa toiletries, and handy travel essentials like shoe mitts and sewing kits. A major pitfall is the hotel’s paper-thin walls. All kinds of hallway noise is audible inside the rooms, which may cause a serious problem for light sleepers.
The Hard Rock has 10 different room types, ranging from standard Caribbean Suites to two-bedroom Signature Family Suites. For guests who really want to splurge, the three-bedroom, 7,000-square-foot Rockstar Suite is pretty spectacular. The penthouse-level room features funky living spaces with a baby grand piano, a pool table, and all kinds of gaming equipment. The massive balcony has its own private plunge pool, purple lounge chairs, and hanging swings. Rockstar Suite guests also receive perks like a personal assistant, private in-room check-in, and bottles of premium liquor and beer.
A huge white-sand beach that's one of the best stretches in the area
The beach at the Hard Rock is longer and wider than most in the area. Many of Bavaro’s beaches are short and narrow, but the Hard Rock’s is, like the rest of the property, massive. The water is warm, but sometimes a bit too rough for swimming, and the sand is plagued by mounds of washed up seaweed. Hotel-hired men in hard hats work around the clock to clean up the mess, but the job is futile. As soon as the men finish clearing one section of the beach, more seaweed piles onto another part of the sand. The beach has tons of lounge chairs, palapa-style umbrellas, and a few beach volleyball courts.
Hotels often exaggerate the number of pools they have by including tiny hot tubs or insignificant kiddy splash zones in their pool count. This isn’t true at the Hard Rock — we can vouch. Each of the hotel’s 13 pools is deserving of the title, and each feels like its own separate space, with a different vibe and a different clientele. The adult-only Eden pool is a quiet oasis with a swim-up bar and daybed hammocks. The Eclipse pool and neighboring Central pool are lively spots where loud Dominican music keeps the atmosphere upbeat and energetic. The quiet Isla and Sax pools are the perfect place for reading and relaxing, while the Kids pool is filled with the happy shrieks of children on vacation. The nice thing about the Hard Rock’s pools is that guests generally respect the pools’ atmosphere. So it’s unlikely that you’ll find boozing bachelor parties at the quieter pools where guests are trying to catch a snooze in the sun.
Better amenities than any other all-inclusive in Punta Cana
We’d argue that the Hard Rock has better amenities than any other all-inclusive in Punta Cana. For starters, the Wi-Fi is free and works equally well anywhere across the property — an appreciated amenity in a town where hotels are quite stingy with their Internet offerings. But with 13 pools, dozens of restaurants and bars, an incredible casino, and awesome nightlife options, it’s hard to beat what this mega-resort has to offer, and its premium nightly rates reflect this.
Rock Spa and Body Rock are the hotel’s spa and fitness center, respectively. Rock Spa has 46 treatment rooms, six outdoor palapas, multiple hydrotherapy pools, a steam room, sauna, and an ice room. Treatments run the gamut, from massages to facials, but perhaps the most interesting is the Rhythm and Motion treatment, a synchronized massage that follows the rhythms and motions of an individually curated playlist. Body Rock, the Hard Rock’s gym, is adjacent to the spa. It’s a large space, with bright blue walls and lots of modern equipment, but it has a strange layout. The massive room only has machines on its perimeters, which leaves a big empty space in the center.
With 65,000 square feet of event space, the Hard Rock is a popular choice for destination weddings, meetings, and events. The property has four private wedding locations, nine different wedding packages, and three honeymoon packages. The hotel even has its own “group lobby” to make group check-in hassle free.
A whopping 13 dining venues with quality food and no reservations
With 13 restaurants and eateries across the property, it’s difficult to go hungry at the Hard Rock. Dining options range from all-you-can-eat buffets, to international a la carte options, to grab-and-go places like coffeeshops and ice cream parlors. Restaurants do not take reservations, but with so many dining options, they’re not even necessary. The Hard Rock should also be lauded for the distinct design, decor, and menu offerings at each restaurant. Many all-inclusives have multiple restaurants that look and feel the same, and serve strangely similar dishes —but this is not the case at the Hard Rock. Here, restaurants have individualized menus and custom decor, so the Mexican restaurant doesn’t resemble the Japanese restaurant, which doesn’t resemble the steakhouse. What the restaurants do have in common, however, is consistently good food. We’re not calling the Hard Rock the culinary experience of our lives, but we found food quality, taste, and presentation to be far superior to other all-inclusives in the area (including Sanctuary Cap Cana and Paradisus Palma Real).
All of the restaurants and bars at the Hard Rock are included in the nightly room rate, except for Simon Mansion, an exclusive outpost inside the casino. Named for the now deceased “Rock-n-Roll” chef, Kerry Simon, Simon Mansion is an insanely opulent establishment meant to resemble the rooms of a private home. Guests are greeted in the foyer by a giant gold horse lamp. The “living room” features metallic tufted sofas, the bar has a floor-to-ceiling black and white photo of Chef Simon, and the “bedroom” is actually a private dining room where every available surface is covered in shades of mauve. Though the bizarre decor feels like something between a scene from “Alice in Wonderland” and an LSD trip, the food is exceptional. The large menu consists of Latin-inspired shared plates, including many vegetarian and gluten-free options. Though Simon Mansion isn’t part of the hotel’s all-inclusive plan, prices aren’t nearly as outrageous as the decor.
At 45,000 square feet, The Hard Rock’s casino is the largest in the Dominican Republic, and the second largest in the Caribbean (only bested by the casino at Atlantis). It feels like a real, Vegas-style casino, not just some room with a few slot machines. The Hard Rock’s casino has 40 gaming tables, 450 slot machines, a private VIP room, and the Dominican Republic’s largest Sports Book. The casino is also home to ORO nightclub, a popular nightlife spot. However, admission and drinks are not part of the all-inclusive package.
Besides the casino at the nightclub, the Hard Rock has dozens of bars and lounges that offer a tamer nightlife scene. The Sun Bar has pool tables and karaoke, while the Moon Lounge has a sophisticated setting and live music. The Eclipse Terrace is outdoors, and the Zen Lounge is the perfect spot to grab a cocktail before dinner.
Despite the party-oriented rock-n-roll theme, the Hard Rock is great for kids.
The Hard Rock has a lot of nice amenities for families with kids. The Little Big Club, the Hard Rock’s on-site kids' club, has lots of toys and a schedule of live shows and daily activities to keep the little ones interested. Activities may include Spanish lessons, face painting, and cooking classes. For older kids, the arcade room is right next door to the kids' club. Other amenities include a large children’s pool, which features two waterslides and a lazy river, a mini-golf course, and a 16-foot rock-climbing wall.
The Hard Rock Golf Club at Cana Bay is the Hard Rock’s Jack Nicklaus designed 18-hole golf course. Although golf course prices are not included in nightly rates, guests can sign up for a free 20-minute program with one of the course’s pros. The short session is meant to be an introduction to the game, and teaches basic swing techniques and course etiquette.
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