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TravelThe Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana review

The Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana review


The Dominican Republic has long been known for its abundance of all-inclusive resort offerings, ranging from hyper-affordable options with bare-bones service to ones on the pricier side that tend to get it all done right (here’s looking at you, Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana).

But these days, picking the right all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic can be a little tricky, especially as more and more resorts add hotel-within-a-hotel concepts that are typically only for adults, offer upgraded amenities and provide exclusive access to certain areas (like a pool or restaurant), alongside access to the larger resort and all its offerings and amenities.

One of those resorts is the Royalton Punta Cana, An Autograph Collection All-Inclusive Resort & Casino, which offers the adults-only Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana (a resort within a resort).

In 2022, my colleague Ben Smithson reviewed the resort without staying in the Hideaway, noting that the property is “a party for the whole family” but that the “always-on” energy of the family-friendly property left him wanting something “small, more authentic and more relaxing” for his next beach holiday, per his review.

So, on my most recent trip to the Dominican Republic, I decided to see if staying in the Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana was a happy middle ground: a place where I could take advantage of everything the resort has to offer, including a water park, but still find rest and relaxation away from the throngs of people (read: families with children) in the exclusive Hideaway areas.

Here’s everything you need to know before booking the adults-only Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection.

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What is the Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana?

Royalton Punta Cana, An Autograph Collection All-Inclusive Resort & Casino is a large family-friendly, all-inclusive resort on the beach with nearly 500 rooms. It’s about 25 minutes from Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) and is part of a larger resort complex that shares amenities with Royalton Splash, another family-friendly, all-inclusive resort with a small water park.

Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana is the resort’s take on an adults-only resort-within-a-resort property that includes 168 rooms and suites; private adults-only pool and beach areas, each with its own respective bar; an exclusive adults-only restaurant, Dorado; the opportunity to make reservations at the 12 restaurants spanning the entire resort complex (most guests use a first-come, first-served system); and full access to all the amenities, activities and attractions spanning both Royalton Punta Cana and Royalton Splash, including the water park.

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Additionally, guests can book Hideaway rooms or suites with Diamond Club access, meaning those guests can visit the lounge area for premium drinks, coffee, tea and snacks like various cheeses and pastries throughout the day, as well as a Diamond Club pool and beach area.

How to book the Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana

Rates at the Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana start at $319 per night, based on double occupancy, or 43,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night for an entry-level guest room with a king bed or two queens. Looking around at various rates, Diamond Club-level rooms seem to cost at least an additional $100 or more per night, a price that you might want to think twice about paying considering that you’re already at an all-inclusive resort where you can get similar food or drink at various spots throughout the day or 24 hours a day with room service.

When booking this, you’ll want to use one of the credit cards that earn the most points for Marriott stays, as well as one that possibly offers automatic Marriott Bonvoy elite status for value-added benefits. These include:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card: Earn 6 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program; automatic Platinum Elite status; and 25 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card: Earn 6 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program; automatic Gold Elite status; and 15 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful Card: Earn 6 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program; automatic Gold Elite status; and 15 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card: Earn 6 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program; automatic Gold Elite status; and 15 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Earn 6 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program; automatic Silver Elite status; and 15 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card: Earn 3 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program; automatic Silver Elite status; and 15 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.

The information for the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

A smooth check-in

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The check-in process for guests of the Hideaway starts at an exclusive check-in area in one of the Hideaway buildings rather than the massive main lobby area — a nice touch that means you can save time by not waiting in a long line. You’ll simply leave your luggage in the main lobby, and once you’ve checked in at the Hideaway reception, your bags will quickly be delivered to your room.

The reception area also plays host to the Hideaway Diamond Lounge, which was open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. during my stay. It serves cheeses, pastries, small sandwiches and other snacks, plus top-shelf liquors, beer, wine, Champagne, tea and coffee. (It’s also where Jennifer, one of the club’s servers, made my day every time I walked by because she was just so kind.)

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My swim-up suite

In all of my years covering all-inclusive resorts, my trip to the Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana was the first time I’d ever scored a swim-up suite — and I was beyond excited for this ground-level room to be my home base for two nights. My room was in the middle of the main Hideaway building, which had an open-air concept on either end, one end leading out to the adults-only Hideaway pool. It was also just steps away from the Hideaway Diamond Lounge, making it easy to grab a quick snack or get to the water.

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The 408-square-foot room consisted of a main room with a double bed, two nightstands and a pullout couch with a coffee table on one side of the room. Though the room itself was comfortable — and the large sliding doors let in lots of natural light — the design choices in the room felt dated and stale, and the imagery above the bed, a very close-up shot of a flower (or, at least, I think that’s what it was) was not pleasant to look at.

The couch was as uninviting as it looked (rather stiff and angular).

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The opposite wall consisted of a large TV that lacked streaming capabilities (meaning you’ll spend an evening channel surfing or forking over cash to rent a movie), a large console with drawers, a coffee maker, an assortment of snacks like Lay’s potato chips, Pringles and M&Ms, an entire bottle of Skyy vodka and two bottles of wine.

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The minifridge had various sodas like Pepsi, Coke Zero and 7UP, as well as bottles of still and sparkling water, Coors Light, Heineken and various juices.

A small closet was adjacent to the bed, and it contained two robes, some space to hang or store clothes, a safe and a very powerful portable steamer (an incredibly practical amenity that I believe all hotels should have in rooms).

The bathroom, located right next to the suite’s entry, consisted of a vanity with a mirror and an oddly-shaped sink. This sink-vanity area was in a space without its own door, and it opened into the main entryway of the room. The toilet and an enclosed rainfall shower were in a separate room located beyond the sink. Royalton-branded amenities like hand soap, lotion, a dental kit and a toiletry kit were sitting on the sink while the shower had individual bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash.

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Through the sliding glass door, the terrace led out to a beautiful swim-out area in a pool that was connected to the other block of swim-up rooms. While I was excited about the swim-up pool, I was not as excited when I got into the unheated water and found it freezing. Mind you, the weather in the Dominican Republic the week I was there was milder than other early February trips I’ve taken there, but I wish I could have enjoyed it more.

Farther outside, our terrace had two chairs and a table but no lounge chairs like our neighbors clearly had. I did, however, very much enjoy spending time out there, but if you want a super private swim-up experience, this might not be the resort for you.

Food and drink

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One great thing about the Hideaway is that guests have access to an exclusive beachfront restaurant, Dorado, plus all the other restaurants across the two resorts, which range from an entertainment-filled teppanyaki restaurant to eateries specializing in Italian, French, Asian, Mexican and international flavors, plus a steakhouse, a sports bar and even a venue with an upscale tasting menu that costs extra.

Over my two-night stay I ate multiple times at Dorado (for the exclusivity and convenience of its location), plus Hunter Steakhouse and the Zen teppanyaki restaurant. Here’s a breakdown of my experiences.

Dorado

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Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Dorado is the adults-only, beachfront restaurant exclusive to Hideaway guests. For breakfast, guests can grab a seat in the airy space facing the beach or in a covered area. The breakfast menu here is a la carte, but there’s a nice little buffet section with fruit, cheese and pastries, plus a build-your-own mimosa and bloody mary bar.

For breakfast, we ordered some classics like a breakfast plate with bacon, eggs to order, mushrooms and hash browns, as well as pancakes, a smoothie, glasses of Prosecco and coffee. The food was all fine but nothing special, and the yokes of my over-easy eggs weren’t runny at all. However, the pancakes were so fluffy and delicious, as were the early morning views of the beach served with a side of people-watching (you’d be shocked how many people travel with metal detectors to search the beach for … treasure?).

For lunch, Dorado transforms into a breezy seafood grill with a small buffet of salads, bread, grilled veggies and ceviche. Over Aperol-forward Aperol spritzes, we thoroughly enjoyed a few different items, including a salad with strawberries and goat cheese, ceviche, the grilled fish of the day (mahi-mahi), chicken skewers with a nice Asian-inspired glaze, popcorn shrimp and a side of grilled vegetables. Though it was a lot of food, it was the ideal lunch for a sunny day spent lounging by the pool and the beach.

Hunter Steakhouse

For dinner, our concierge made our reservation for Hunter Steakhouse, where we sat on the beautiful terrace lined with water and palm trees and decorated with Western-themed faux horn chandeliers. As a Texan who loves a good steak, I was curious to see if an all-inclusive resort could pull off great steakhouse fare, so we ordered a medium New York strip, a medium rare filet, an iceberg wedge salad, a beet salad and creamed spinach.

Both salads hit the spot, especially the beet salad mixed with feta and delicate balsamic vinaigrette and the wedge salad with tomatoes, bacon and blue cheese dressing. The steaks, on the other hand, didn’t do it for us. The quality of the meat just wasn’t too great and all together was fattier than you’d have at a regular steakhouse. But it was still a lovely evening in a semi-romantic setting (despite the fact that there were kids around).

Zen teppanyaki

For our last dinner, we once again had our concierge arrange a reservation for us, this time at the teppanyaki restaurant Zen. Arriving at the restaurant, we watched a couple without the ability to make reservations (a reason to stay at Hideaway!) get asked to return in about an hour and a half to be seated for the showy dining experience. That made us appreciate the ability to have a more scheduled day without worrying about how long we’d wait for dinner.

If you’ve ever been to a teppanyaki restaurant, you know exactly what to expect. Diners sit around a communal table and watch as an animated chef wows the crowd with fire, knife skills and the occasional shrimp or rice thrown into people’s mouths. This particular experience also included lots of communal chanting and dancing, which made the restaurant bond together in a really silly way that everyone loved.

The food was also exactly like every other teppanyaki restaurant I’ve ever visited: soup and salad followed by lots of delicious rice and vegetables, plus steak, chicken and shrimp. Teppanyaki restaurants are a staple of the all-inclusive experience, and this one was truly a great experience.

Bars

Guests at the Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana have access to all the public bars across the resorts, plus exclusive pool and beach bars, where we most often ordered from. At these bars, guests could order pretty much whatever they wanted (with some higher-quality liquors) from friendly, knowledgeable staff.

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People are always curious if drinks are watered down at all-inclusive resorts, and I find that that usually depends on what you order. As an experienced all-inclusive traveler, I tend to stick to what I know can be done easily and how I like it, typically margaritas on the rocks with salt or Diet Coke with coconut rum or tequila. At these bars, the margaritas always hit the spot, though spicy margaritas were made with Tabasco sauce rather than muddled jalapenos.

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My advice would also be to request that your cocktails be served in regular cups instead of these seemingly fun margarita glasses — they’re sort of a pain, and you’ll lose half your drink before getting back to your chair (they tend to be easily spilled).

We also spent a few hours at Score Sports Bar & Lounge, open until 2 a.m. There, we sipped whiskey and Diet Coke while people danced in the club-like area with couches and a DJ. During our visit, we got a kick watching a group of silly teenagers who were enjoying the opportunity to drink legally in this country. A full arcade in the back uses a token system, so be sure to bring extra dollar bills if you want to play a round of air hockey.

The service

Across the board, I was very impressed with the service from everyone working at the restaurants and bars. They were highly attentive, very friendly and quick to ensure we got everything we wanted or needed. Many of them remembered our orders day to day and left us feeling seen and cared for our entire stay.

Pools and beaches

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The adults-only pool reserved exclusively for Hideaway guests was a great place to spend a few hours thanks to a large number of lounge chairs both around the pool and sitting in the water. Just don’t forget: At any all-inclusive resort, people get up early to claim chairs, so if that’s important, be sure to set an alarm.

Servers were walking around taking drink orders (and occasionally passing out canned beers), and a DJ played music while folks mingled in the pool.

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Hideaway guests can also take advantage of most of the other resort pools, including the stunning main infinity pool overlooking the beach (pictured above). Finding chairs at this pool is more difficult, as it’s shared by many more people than the Hideaway pool, but it was a gorgeous spot with a swim-up bar.

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There’s also a small exclusive beach area with a private bar for Hideway guests. Bavaro Beach, where the resort is located, is stunning, and the ocean temperature is usually just right (better than the pools during my stay), so I spent most of my time relaxing there. Just know that this private beach area is elevated and roped off, meaning that getting into the water is a bit of a journey — but it’s a great spot for people who just want to relax.

It’s also important to know that beach vendors are a dime a dozen in the Dominican Republic. They’re not pushy and will leave you alone if you simply say “no thank you.” At this beach, there was also an adventure company offering parasailing and adventure rides on various inner tubes. We paid $50 total for a wild ride on a couch-like inner tube that felt like a roller coaster on the water; I would highly recommend the experience (though keep in mind that the company you use may not be associated with the resort, as was the case for us).

1 party I’ll never forget (and 1 I certainly will)

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One great thing about all-inclusive resorts is the amount of entertainment on offer, from scheduled daily activities like water aerobics and beach games to shows with live music and dancing. At this resort, you’ll want to make sure you head to the weekly “White Party,” where guests of all ages converge on the beach to dance the night away. The party was truly a spectacle, with people dancing with balloons in their hands to music ranging from current Top 40 hits to throwbacks like Usher’s 2004 smash hit “Yeah.”

Even better, there was one of those circular photobooth platforms where guests could slide their phone into a holder and take a 360-degree video.

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On our second night, we ventured to the nearby family-forward Splash Punta Cana (via a five-minute shuttle) for karaoke night in a large pavilion. Coming from our 8 p.m. Zen reservation, we arrived as karaoke was winding down and a small dance party was starting. Many people were having fun and joining in on dances like the “Cha Cha Slide” while plenty of others simply sat in the chairs and bars surrounding the dance floor. It felt sort of like a family reunion or an awkward wedding, but the entertainment crew was doing a great job getting people up and dancing, and we ultimately had a moderately fun (albeit not memorable) time compared to the White Party the night before.

A water park for the kids at heart

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Though the Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana is adults-only, guests have access to the nearby water park at Royalton Splash (which is accessible by walking or taking a quick shuttle that runs every 10 minutes). The water park has an assortment of both open-air and enclosed slides, a wave pool and a splash pad area for smaller kids. Though the water park was undergoing some reservations, we had a truly terrific time taking advantage of the thrilling slides, including one with a really steep drop and one that dropped riders into a toilet bowl-like basin to spin around in before dropping you out.

If you’re trying to have a full-on adults-only experience, this is not the place to stop. But if you’re looking for some fast, lighthearted fun, you’ll want to give it a try — no matter your age.

The fury and the flood

The only hiccup we had at the Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana was on our last night. After returning to our room to rest after a long day of soaking up some sun, it started raining. At first, it felt like your standard late afternoon tropical thunderstorm, but after the sun went down and we took time to nap and rest, the storm got much heavier, so much so, in fact, that our entryway had been filling up with water without our realizing — only to be discovered when I ventured to the bathroom and realized there was a small lake in our room. I immediately threw down the towels that we had and rushed to the reception desk for more only to find that the entire open-air hallway was flooded and guests were lining the lobby area asking for help, too.

It’s worth noting that the staff jumped into quick action by doing their best to sweep the hallways clean of water, stopping at each room to do the same before drying the floors and plugging the doors with towels. Many guests were angry, demanding rooms on higher floors — and the staff clearly was working their hardest to relocate those people. Ultimately, the storm ended just as quickly as it started, and our situation was easily reconciled.

The reality is that this is likely not the first time this has happened at the resort, and some maintenance work on ground-level rooms could likely save everyone a bit of trouble.

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Other amenities

For guests looking to get pampered while on vacation, Royalton’s Hideaway area has the Royal Spa, which offers all the standard services and beauty treatments, such as facials, massages, manicures and pedicures, for an additional fee. Or, if you’re one to work out on vacation, Royalton Fit offers a gym with all the essential equipment, plus classes like beach boot camp, yoga, Zumba and kickboxing. There are also tennis courts available.

Accessibility

Finding information about Royalton Punta Cana’s accessibility is difficult online — a disservice to travelers with physical challenges looking to book a dreamy vacation. As someone who travels with a parent who uses a wheelchair, I did notice the standard accessibility offerings like spacious elevators and flat, open walkways, but other features — like pool lifts or even just accessible room types — were hard to find.

For those needing accessible rooms, I’d highly recommend calling the resort directly and speaking to someone on the ground before booking. Also keep in mind that hotels outside the U.S. aren’t bound by the same Americans with Disabilities Act standards required of properties stateside.

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Is it truly adults-only?

More and more all-inclusive resorts offer adults-only experiences in otherwise family-friendly resorts, leading people to wonder how adults-only a property can be. That’s exactly what I came to find out.

Related: 19 relaxing adults-only, all-inclusive resorts for a kid-free vacation

The reality of the Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana is that while there are a handful of adults-only areas, you will see and hear many children throughout your stay — and there’s no way to avoid that. Sure, the Hideaway pool is free of kids, but to get to Dorado, the adults-only restaurant, you’ll have to walk out of the gated pool area and most likely past some little ones. If you want a late-night drink from either the lobby bar or the sports bar, you’ll also likely have kids around.

So, if you want a true adults-only experience with no child in sight, this is not the right experience for you. But if you’re fine with having a few adults-only retreats within a large, lively resort, you won’t be disappointed.

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Checking out

My experience at the Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana was the best of both worlds: a fun resort-within-a-resort experience that allowed me and my partner freedom from kids alongside exclusive, less crowded areas while still having access to a lot of other fun activities and amenities, such as a huge dance party, a water park and more restaurants and bars than we could visit in one stay.

The entire experience was lighthearted, the service was amazing, the beach was fantastic and the adults-only pool felt like an exclusive club where we made friends and relaxed. Though there are more high-end all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic, my experience here checked most of the boxes, and I would return again in a heartbeat if the price or Marriott Bonvoy award redemption were right.

But if you’re looking for a true adults-only experience, you’d be happier staying somewhere like the Hyatt Zilara back in Punta Cana.

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