The Grand Reserve: Family-Friendly Luxury in Punta Cana

The Grand Reserve is a brand-new luxury resort in Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic. It’s the most luxurious addition to the complex of Meliá Hotels International there, adding to the already-popular Paradisus Palma Real and The Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real. If you’re a guest at The Grand Reserve, you’ll not only enjoy tons of amenities onsite, but will also have full access to the activities at the other two resorts. Many thanks to The Grand Reserve for hosting us. Let me tell you about our experience.

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Settling In

We were greeted with refreshing welcome drinks at check-in, and nothing says “vacation” quite like that! Checking in itself was a very smooth process for us as the resort is paperless. Everything from room reservations to spa appointments are handled by iPad. We were given bracelets (purple for adults, blue for kids) that gave us access to everything we needed at the resort, and were then introduced to Mario Holguin, a personal concierge. At The Grand Reserve, every guest is assigned a concierge who helps to plan your vacation for you, handling everything from restaurant reservations to spa appointments to excursions. Be sure to download Whatsapp before your trip, as that’s the primary way you’ll communicate with your concierge. Mario gave us a quick tour of the resort’s main restaurants, before showing us to our room.

The Grand Reserve has more than 250 accommodations, ranging from 800 to over 3,000 square feet. Whether you’re there on a romantic getaway for two or have extended family along for the trip, there’s a perfect suite for every party. We stayed in room 4108, a one bedroom swim-up suite, which has direct access to an exclusive pool. It’s the perfect set-up for families since it offers a spacious dining room, kitchenette, plenty of storage space, and of course, a sleeper sofa for the kids. On the ground floor, we walked right out to the pool, which runs the length of the building. We had our own private cabana right by the pool, as well as a lovely patio area, and an outdoor hot tub. The bathroom is split into two rooms: one with a gorgeous, freestanding, soaking tub, double vanity and spacious closets; and the other with a walk-in shower, enclosed toilet room, and another vanity with a single sink. I loved what I’ll call an “organic modern” aesthetic of it all. The design elements are very clean and sleek, while incorporating lots of natural materials like wood, stone, and botanicals.

the grand reserve
Photo: Nadezda Kobets
the grand reserve
Photo: Nadezda Kobets
the grand reserve
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi

Things To Do

You definitely won’t be bored staying at The Grand Reserve. We stayed for four nights, were careful not to overschedule planned activities and we still felt like we were busy every part of the day! The fitness programming is especially impressive. In addition to a gorgeous glass-walled gym and separate glass-walled spinning studio overlooking the pool, the resort hosts lots of fun fitness classes throughout the week, with everything from underwater cycling to floating yoga, from TRX to rebounding. The resort also takes its night-time programming very seriously. The second night of our stay, there was an outdoor party that was a huge production, with live music, magician, acrobats, trapeze artists, and a killer DJ. The other nights had more live music, plus a silent disco, where everyone puts on wireless headphones and dances to their own choice of rock, pop or electronica.

Sean and Ella had such a great time there. They absolutely loved the kids club, which is called Habitat. When we first walked in, I was wondering if they’d enjoy it, since it didn’t have quite as many toys and video games as we’ve seen at other resorts’ kids clubs, but I was wrong! On their first day at the kids club, Serge and I went to pick up them up three different times before they were finally willing to leave! The employees at some kids clubs just supervise, but the staff at The Grand Reserve really get down and play with the kids. They even take them to the water park next door and get in the pools to play with them! The kids club is divided into three sections: one for infants and toddlers, one for kids, and one for teens. The teen lounge wasn’t ready yet during our stay, but judging from what we saw, it’ll be a fun place to hang out. The water park was, of course, another highlight for the girls. Like the kids club, the water park is also divided into three areas: one for infants and toddlers, one for preschoolers, and a large part for older kids (or just the more adventurous ones). The girls also loved playing on the beach. The Grand Reserve is not directly on the beach, but from the lobby it takes less than 5 minutes to get there by buggy.

the grand reserve
Photo: Nadezda Kobets
the grand reserve
Photo: Nadezda Kobets
the grand reserve
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi

What to Eat

There are nine different restaurants at The Grand Reserve, plus several different bars, so you certainly won’t run out of food options here. One of our favorites was Mina, a modern steakhouse, with a glass winery in the center. In terms of small plates, we thought the prawns & rum and grilled octopus were particularly good. We also enjoyed the rib eye black angus. Serge and I also enjoyed Lemonfish, the cevichería. The a la carte menu offers a wide selection of ceviche and tiradito to choose from, with everything from shrimp to octopus, from salmon to lobster.

Because we were celebrating the 20th anniversary since our first date, Mario also arranged for us to have a special dinner at Amor de Mar, a contemporary, fine dining restaurant. Usually this restaurant is only available to vacation club members at the highest ownership level, so this was a treat for us. If you get a chance to go, expect unique cuisine inspired by Latin American, Caribbean, and Mediterranean influences. In terms of appetizers, we most enjoyed the salmon tartar, grilled octopus salad and artichoke risotto. For entrees, the creamy seafood rice and wagyu rib eye were particularly good.

The other restaurants at the resort are Kao, an Asian fusion dining experience; Mangu, a poolside Caribbean eatery; Agua Marina, an exclusive restaurant with a seasonal menu; Cannopi (at the water park), which serves family-friendly food; Rubi Rocks, a sports bar; and Domenica, a gastro hall that serves buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

the grand reserve
Enjoying cocktails at Mama & Juana. Photo: Nadezda Kobets
the grand reserve
The breakfast buffet at Domenica. Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Appetizers at Kao. Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Rum & Juliet is the pool bar. Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Salmon appetizer at Amor de Mar. Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Amor de Mar. Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Steak tartare at Mina. Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Rubi Rocks is the American-style sports bar. Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Burgers and fries at Rubi Rocks. Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Lobster ceviche at Lemon Fish. Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Steak and seafood rice at Mangu. Photo: Carmen Sognonvi

Time to Unwind

The Grand Reserve has a 14-room spa, offering MAIA Signature Treatments by Natura Bissé, including facials, massages, body treatments, hair styling, manicures and pedicures. The spa is compact, but elegant and serene. Serge and I had a 50-minute couple’s massage, which was outstanding. Both our therapists hit just the right balance of smoothness and pressure. Afterward, we enjoyed the sauna and steam room in the locker rooms. The spa also has a private outdoor swimming pool, which is great if you’d like to enjoy some kid-free pool time.

the grand reserve
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi

Treated Like Royalty

One of the things I appreciated about the resort is that it’s very well-staffed. Even security is plentiful, which is great because there are a few dark corners, especially leading into the rooms, and there was always a security guard there looking out for guests.

We were most impressed by the staff at the kids club, who went above and beyond. They were so engaged with the kids. During the night time entertainment activities, which happened in the main courtyards, the kids club staff would make sure all the kids were having good time by getting them to dance together, etc.

The highlight of service was definitely our personal concierge Mario. Not only was he super-responsive whenever we needed something (and very knowledgeable about the resort), but throughout our stay he arranged for little fun surprises in our suite, like a balloon octopus Jacuzzi party one evening, and rose petals with pink and red balloons on our anniversary night. As I was sharing these experiences over on our Instagram stories, many of our followers who already had reservations at The Grand Reserve, began calling the resort to request Mario as their concierge!

the grand reserve
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
the grand reserve
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi

Areas for Improvement

Just as you’d expect at any brand new hotel, there are a few things that need some work. The landscaping is new and still needs to grow in; the resort’s mobile app didn’t work that well, and the WiFi cut out every once in a while. The service is warm and friendly, but there were occasional hiccups, sometimes due to language barriers. (It definitely helps to know a bit of Spanish here.) There’s a tremendous variety of food and beverage options, but we found that the freshness, flavors, and quality of the ingredients could use an upgrade. Fortunately, as a guest of The Grand Reserve, you can experience their “Stay at One & Play at Three” offering, meaning you have access to 15 additional restaurants at both The Reserve and Paradisus Palma Real. We only tried a couple places at the other resorts, but we found the quality to be quite good. All of these minor issues at The Grand Reserve are sure to get better with time.

the grand reserve
Photo: Nadezda Kobets
the grand reserve
Photo: Nadezda Kobets
the grand reserve
Photo: Nadezda Kobets

Overall Impression

The Grand Reserve is luxurious and beautiful, with spacious accommodations, more entertainment than you can imagine, and service fit for a queen. Your children won’t be treated like second-class citizens; in fact, they’ll probably be asking to go back! You’ll have plenty of dining options and will always feel safe and secure. Whether you’re looking for a laid-back vacation or an action-packed adventure, you’ll find it all at this tropical oasis.

Top Flight Family received complimentary accommodations, meals and activities. All opinions are our own.

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About Carmen Sognonvi

Carmen Sognonvi is a luxury family travel and lifestyle digital influencer at Top Flight Family. Her insights on travel have been featured in Wanderlust Travel Magazine, TravelPulse, HOTELS Magazine, Seatrade Cruise News and more. Carmen firmly believes that you can (and should) travel with your kids from a young age. She offers families practical solutions for travel, as well as tips on how to travel in luxury for less. She lives in New York City with her multiracial and multicultural family of four. Follow her on Instagram, FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

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The Grand Reserve in Punta Cana is luxurious and beautiful, with spacious accommodations, more entertainment than you can imagine, and service fit for a queen.

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