If you want to completely blow your children's minds, consider a trip to the new Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana. My boys are total Nickelodeon fans and the opportunity to hang out with SpongeBob SquarePants, the Paw Patrol, Dora the Explorer, the Fairly Odd Parents, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the resort's grand opening just before the busy school year commenced, was a dream come true.
LOCATION: We arrived in Punta Cana via a direct 4-hour flight from JFK. Nickelodeon Punta Cana is a short drive (about 30 minutes) up the coast to Uvero Alto Beach from Punta Cana International Airport. Despite being an international trip, the direct flight and the resort's proximity to the airport made it relatively easy, even with excited little boys in tow. We arrived at night but awoke to the sprawling resort's beautiful grounds and some very familiar faces:
ACCOMMODATIONS: Nickelodeon Punta Cana has 208 over-sized suites in seven styles including Swim-Up Suites, like the room we stayed in:
The decor is colorful and playful, in line with Nickelodeon's logo and vibe. There are touches throughout the resort, like Ninja Turtle manhole covers, that make it the ultimate destination for Nick fans. There are also four exclusive, two- and three-bedroom Super Villas with more than 2,200 square feet of vacationing space each, including the Pineapple, inspired by SpongeBob SquarePants’ own home in Bikini Bottom:
FOOD: Nickelodeon Punta Cana is a partnership between Nickelodeon and Karisma Hotels & Resorts, an award-winning luxury hotel collection. The resort features Karisma’s Gourmet Inclusive® Experience, which includes a la carte dining, premium alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, full-service concierge, and 24-hour room service. The number one question I receive about our time at Nickelodeon Punta Cana is about the food. All-inclusive can sometimes mean compromising quality but I can honestly say we were very happy with the quality and sheer number of food and snack options. Not having to wait for and pay a bill every single meal was really nice.
The heart of the resort is Gourmet Village, a Rodeo Drive-like epicenter lined with restaurants choices from Italian and Asian to space-inspired and Artisan Burgers. It's a short walk from the rooms or accessible via golf cart. Reservations need to be made in advance and the restaurants do fill quickly so speak to your concierge about bookings upon arrival or even before! Service was here and there at the restaurants and at the resort in general. We visited in August for the grand opening so I assumed they were still ironing things out.
Our favorite restaurant is Brgrs, an indoor Artisan burger food truck. We visited twice and even second time around the kids couldn't stop laughing at how big the burgers are:
We also loved the breakfast buffet at Sugarcane, that offered every brunch option under the sun including local fare and a mimosa bar, and the inventiveness of Spacewalker, an astronaut/space-themed restaurant. Not surprisingly, the dining highlight was the Pajama Jam Breakfast at Zest Restaurant, where the characters came out to play. Reservations need to be made in advance and in person.
The room service menu is simple and focused with only a few options in each category, allowing the resort to perfect those dishes. Of course, every restaurant is super kid-friendly and there are lots of little touches like chocolate fountains and mason jar glasses that really impress the kid set.
If adult beverages are on your mind, there are plenty! I loved the swim-up bar outside our room:
ACTIVITIES: The biggest draw to Nickelodeon Punta Cana, in my opinion, is the family-friendly activities. With two little boys, our number one requirement for a family vacation destination is that it offers a wide-variety of activities to keep them busy and tire them out. This is where Nickelodeon Punta Cana really delivers.
Uvero Alto Beach and Infinity Pool: The north side of the resort is anchored by the breathtaking golden sands of Uvero Alto beach and Nick Punta Cana's infinity pool. You can rent a cabana on the beach and swim in the calm, crystal clear water or lounge by the pool and enjoy a game of water polo.
Aqua Nick™ Playground is the place to be for water activities like little water slides, splash pads, spray grounds and a lazy river. It's fun and colorful, with statues of Nick characters at every turn. The splash pad and slides are for younger kids, and the lazy river is for more experienced swimmers. It is not a traditional water park but rather a place to cool off and relax. There are lifeguards around the splash pad but the lazy river is not diligently monitored. It's also important to note that the resort does not provide water safety devices or life preservers, nor do they sell them so you must bring your own. Aqua Nick has a snack bar with pizza, wings, and ice cream, and diligent waiter service. It's also the place you'll find Slime Time, not once but twice a day, and have the opportunity to live every eighties kid's "You Can't Do That On Television" fantasy.
Character Central: My boys really love character experiences, as you can probably tell, and there is no shortage at Nick Punta Cana. There's a calendar of activities each day, which includes times to meet specific characters in a dedicated area next to Aqua Nick.
Just Kiddin’: Part clubhouse, part artist’s studio, it's kids only! For children 4 to 12, this kids club is a lifesaver! My children were obsessed and spent a lot of time playing games, sliding down the enormous slide into the ball pit, and even doing computer games. The club is open some nights as well, so you can sneak out and have an adult-only dinner!
Sports & Entertainment Center: For teens and tweens, this is another great spot, along with the movie theater, to hang out. The resort features a separate fitness center and spa, but for the entire family, this is the perfect place to work up a sweat.
kNick kNack: Nick aficiandos will be blown away by the merchandise available at the resort. I really appreciate that it's not in your face or at every turn. You don't have to walk through a shop to get somewhere but there are shopping opportunities with kids stuff, mementos, and travel essentials.
We reviewed the resort at the end of summer, which is obviously the warmest time of year in the Carribean. The holidays and winter break are really the ideal time to travel to Nick Punta Cana and soak up some Vitamin D. Thank you to Nickelodeon Punta Cana for including us in the grand opening. Our boys give the resort an enthusiastic two thumbs up and can't wait to return.
Are you ready to get SLIMED?
Kids are included with Sliming Savings at Nick Punta Cana plus you can save up to 50% on vacations booked between now and October 21, 2016 for travel until December 22, 2017. Special rates start at $190 per person, per night for adults with kids included.* That's an incredible value for luxury accommodations. For more information and reservations visit www.nickresortpuntacana.com/specials. Read more reviews on Trip Advisor.
*Two children (ages 3-12) are included when sharing a room with two adults. Consideration provided by Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana.