Dominican Republic travel review: A luxury all-inclusive beachside hideaway that offers it all
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It was after midnight when we arrived at Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda resort. A lady carrying a tray of little white rolls approached our group and invited us to take one. In my tired, jet-lagged state, and without any hesitation, I popped it straight into my mouth as she looked on horrified.
“No, no, no!” she exclaimed. “That’s a cloth to freshen your face.”
I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to pull a face cloth you’ve just eaten back out of your mouth in a nonchalant manner but, take it from me, it’s impossible. Luckily at that point a glass of prosecco was immediately thrust into my hand by another member of staff as I glanced around to see if anyone else had noticed. Thankfully only one of our group had, and was giggling into her glass of bubbles.
Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda is a luxury all-inclusive beachside hideaway made of four distinct boutique villages aimed at families, active guests, wellness seekers and couples.
Having arrived in the dark, I awoke early the next morning and went for a little walk before breakfast to see my surroundings in all their glory, including the lush palm trees around the resort and a beautiful sunrise from the beach.
Nestled in a secluded region of the Dominican Republic, the resort, part of Club Med’s Exclusive Collection, is an ecological preserved paradise.
There are four swimming pools where you can float in the water or lie on a deckchair with a poolside drink. Alternatively, you can sit and admire the stunning view from the resort’s palm tree-lined beach facing the Atlantic Ocean.
As part of its all inclusive package, Club Med offers 39 activities in your stay. Whether you want to begin the day with treetop yoga, paddle board in the sea, play tennis, go horseriding or watch the sunset from a kayak on a secluded beach, there are plenty of activities to choose from.
There are a further 23 activities available at extra cost, including interactive cooking classes, electric bike hire, and a number of tailored spa treatments.
All activities can be booked on Club Med’s app, which is a handy way to keep on top of what’s going on.
On the first day, after a delicious buffet breakfast in Cayuco, the resort’s main restaurant, and an official tour of the site, I alternated between the pools and the beach.
The Zen Pool, a freshwater adults-only pool, provides the perfect space for tranquility, rest and a very enjoyable cocktail or two.
The resort also includes a main swimming pool in the heart of the resort, a family pool reserved exclusively for parents and children, staying in the "la Perla" section of the site and a children's swimming pool.
Evenings at Club Med are themed with guests invited to adopt its dress code suggestion for each night of the week, often a colour or a pattern, such as white, blue or floral.
As well as an evening buffet in the main Cayuco restaurant, guests can also enjoy fresh local specialities in Coco Plum Beach Lounge, on the spacious deck with its breathtaking view of the ocean. Or, for an extra cost, Coal & Copper will treat you to charcoal grilling and high-end produce such as age-dried meats, ribeye, caviar and lobster.
Children will also love the Secret Chocolate Room, hidden in the children's section of the main restaurant where the access code to get in is somewhere on the menu.
If you’ve not exhausted yourself with the day time activities, the evening entertainment includes a mix of singing and dancing with tribute acts and DJs.
There is so much to do at Michès Playa Esmeralda it would be too easy to spend your entire holiday at the resort. For the first couple of days we absorbed all that it had to offer, enjoying a sunset kayak, a tuna tartare cookery class at Coal & Copper, and a relaxing back massage at the spa.
However, to not venture out of the resort would mean missing out on everything else that this beautiful region has to offer.
On the third day we took a day trip to Los Haitises National Park one of the crown jewels of the Dominican Republic’s national park system.
Los Haitises, which translates into “hilly land” in the Taino language, attracts visitors who come here by boat to see its impressive series of 98 ft
high rock formations jutting out of the water. The park also includes extensive mangroves along its bay, which is dotted with caves that are home to multiple bird colonies where you might spot the endangered Ridgway’s Hawk as well as pelicans, frigate birds and herons.
Los Haitises also protects one of the Dominican Republic’s few remaining rainforests, once used as a filming location for Jurassic Park.
Discovering the park by speed boat, eating the fresh pineapple and coconut offered by our guide, and finishing the trip with lunch and a swim in the natural pools of Cano Hondo was easily a highlight of my week in the Caribbean – a trip not to be missed.
The next day, still on a high from Los Haitises, we embarked on the Lush Landscapes excursion, a tour of rice fields, family farms, palm tree-lined beaches and the Montaña Redonda, a “rounded mountain” with 360-degree panoramic views and home to an instagram-famous swing.
Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly holiday, an active adventure or a couple’s relaxing retreat, the Dominican Republic and Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda offer everything you could wish for. Just don’t eat the face cloths.
For more information on Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda and the surrounding area, visit: clubmed.co.uk