Go to Punta Cana!
By Punta Cana Travel Guide
On the easternmost tip of the island is Punta Cana, site of several major vacation developments with more scheduled to arrive in the nearfuture.Known for its spectacular beaches and clear waters, Punta Cana is an escapist's dream. Its 32km (20 miles) of white sands, set against a backdrop ofswayingpalm trees, are unrivaled in the Caribbean, and that's the chief and perhaps only reason to come here.
Many Europeans (especially Spaniards) rushed to take advantage ofPuntaCana's desirable climate -- within one of the most arid landscapes in the Caribbean, it rarely rains during daylight hours. Capitalizing on cheaplandand the virtually insatiable desire of Europeans for sunny holidays during the depths of winter, a half-dozen European hotel chains participated in something into a land rush, acquiring large tracts of sugar-cane plantations and pasture land. Today, at least a dozen mega hotels, most with no fewer than500rooms, some with even more, attract a clientele that's about 70% EuropeanorLatin American. The hotel designs here range from the not particularlyinspiredto low-rise megacomplexes designed by the most prominent Spanisharchitects.
Some of them, particularly the Meliá Caribe Tropical Resort andtheBarcelo Bávaro complex , boast some of the most lavish beach andpoolfacilities in the Caribbean, spectacular gardens, and relatively newconceptsin architecture (focusing on postmodern interplays between indoor andoutdoorspaces).
Don't expect a real town here. Although the mailing addresses formosthotels is the dusty and distinctly unmemorable Higüey, very few guestseverspend time there. Most remain on the premises of their all-inclusivehotels.
If you choose to vacation in Punta Cana, you won't be alone,asincreasing numbers of Latino celebrities are making inroads, usuallyrentingprivate villas within private compounds. Julio Iglesias has been afixture herefor a while. And one of the most widely publicized feuds in theDominican Republic swirled a few years ago around celebrity designer Oscar de laRenta,who abandoned his familiar haunts at Casa de Campo for palm-studded newdigs at Punta Cana.
Above all, don't expect a particularly North American vacation.The Europeans were here first, and many of them still have a senseofpossessiveness about their secret hideaway. For the most part, the ambienceisEurope in the Tropics, as seen through a Dominican filter. You'll find,forexample, more formal dress codes, greater interest in soccer matches thaninthe big football game, and red wine rather than scotch and soda atdinner. Hotels are aware of the cultural differences between their NorthAmerican and European guests, and sometimes strain to soften the differencesthat arise between them.