If you are planning a trip to the Nickelodeon Hotels and Resorts in Punta Cana, chances are you have children who want to immerse themselves in the world of their favorite cartoon. No other resort is going to satisfy that itch, except maybe for the Nickelodeon Hotels and Resorts Riviera Maya. So if you are reading this, you are probably asking yourself if it is worth the money. Our hot take is a solid yes, but with some caveats.
Why do we feel this resort is worth consideration for your family vacation?
- The chance to meet your child’s favorite cartoon characters. I mean, can you really put a price on that smile they’ll have?
- Comfortable, spacious rooms available at varying sizes from studio suites to larger suites with separate sleeping quarters and bathrooms for the parents.
- Large, well-appointed bathrooms designed thoughtfully for simultaneous use by multiple family members.
- The staff is mostly pleasant, and attentive.
- Swim up suites offer extended, semi-private pool hours after a long day.
- The spa is surprisingly affordable. We paid no more for an hour massage there than we would have at home. Same for our daughter’s manicure.
- A just-for-kids waterpark that will keep your little ones entertained all day.
- Variety of (mostly) reservation-free dining options, including healthy eating choices and vegetarian options.
- Nightly open-air entertainment, for kids and adults.
- Swim up bar, several of them. Need we say more?
- Beachfront (though the water was not swimmable during our stay).
- The Club Nick kids’ club was well-loved by our little one. She still talks about some of the things they did and the friends she made.
- This resort is not in Punta Cana proper. It’s more secluded, surrounded by other resorts and undeveloped land.
- Onsite COVID testing for your return to the U.S.
So what are the caveats?
- This property is older and starting to show it’s age. Though generally well-maintained, you will notice some patches, some rust, and some needed repairs. The handle to our sliding patio door was broken when we checked in and the bathtub sprung a leak later in our stay (both were repaired relatively quickly).
- Pools closed early (6pm) when we were there and the pool bars and towel hut closed at 5pm.
- There was no nightclub or dancing venue for the parents.
- There was no late-night Club Nick option for parents that wanted an evening out (there is a baby-sitting service, for a fee).
- Adults are not allowed on the waterslides.
- Because you are not in the city proper, expect to pay more for airport transfers and tours, which are usually priced for central-business-district of Punta Cana where many of the other resorts are (note: most of the neighborhoods outside those resorts are not places you’d want to walk around with your family so in this case, paying a little extra to be outside of town is more of a pro than a con).
- During the off-season, about half the restaurants were closed on any given night.
- If you are vegetarian or prefer healthier eating, you will quickly go through all your menu options the first couple of nights. Toward the end of our stay, we were really bored with the food and asked the chef to make a vegetarian-version of a dish that was on the buffet line. He initially refused until we asked a server to have management contact us about it.
- The COVID test is only offered during a two-hour window in the morning. They did not advise us of that prior to travel and we ended up booking a tour for the morning we needed to be tested. We spent half a day of our vacation making calls and re-arranging our tours to accommodate. The staff was not sympathetic about this.
- You will be hounded to purchase into their vacation club program. It’s ridiculously pricey. They will try to convince you to give up your travel agent (not cool!), and despite all assurances that it’s only an hour-long presentation and there’s no pressure… it’s longer than an hour and they get openly hostile with you if you say no. Easy solution, however, just say no to the presentation despite whatever freebie they are offering you.
- Your “personal concierge” is largely a useless feature. They will contact you before you travel and fish for information that seems like they want to personalize your stay, but they really only want to upsell you on other products. We told ours that we were celebrating both an anniversary and a birthday during our stay. At no point during our stay did anyone ever congratulate us or wish me a happy birthday. Our concierge did, however, try to sell us birthday cakes, massages, and other special add-ons.
- We also advised our concierge that we had to leave early for a tour one day and would miss breakfast. She promised to have the menu sent to us so that we could pre-order room service and that she would advise room service of our situation. She did neither and when we tried to get a menu from the front desk, room service refused to give one to them (or us). They kept insisting that the menu was on the TV, but it was not, at least not until 6:30am the day of our tour. We ordered but had to leave by 7am, before the food came, and they refused to redeliver it to the lobby where we were waiting for our tour pickup. We ended up not eating breakfast that day.
- We reported our concierge issues to the head concierge, who promised to have hotel management contact us. A month and still no word from the management.
Despite the issues, we still enjoyed our stay, though we have no intention of returning. The trip served its purpose in that our little one got to meet her idols before she got too old to really enjoy it. They are nicer resorts with better service to stay at in Punta Cana, if we return. We still recommend this resort, however, because many of the issues we experienced were the result of our dietary needs and our tour selections. Absent those factors, you are likely to have an uneventful (in the good way) stay.
The other issues really were not that bad in that you can’t help when things break, especially considering the use they get, and they were fixed quickly. The destination is very affordable for a family vacation and there are plenty of tour options to keep everyone entertained (note that the onsite tour company for this resort is only 3-star rated online so you are better off booking a tour through Viator). All that said, if budget allows, I would recommend considering a stay at their Riviera Maya resort instead. The hotel’s staff admitted that guests generally prefer the service in Mexico over the Dominican Republic. There, you will also find a similarly large amount of things to do with the family but in a brand-new resort (and adults are allowed on the water slides!).
Interested in booking a stay at a Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts property? Give Bella Rose Travel a call at (904) 888-5104 or send us a message to get started.