PHOTOS: 7 ACV properties we loved in Puerto Plata


PHOTOS: 7 ACV properties we loved in Puerto Plata
Group C poses with a friendly turtle at the Sunscape Puerto Plata, just one of the resorts we inspected during ACV's Mega FAM to the Dominican Republic.
Christine Hogg

Christine Hogg is the Associate Digital Editor at PAX Global Media. Prior to joining PAX, she obtained her Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, she went on to write for several travel publications while travelling the world. Her longest trip was a three-week stint in Europe, and the shortest was a 16-hour adventure in Iceland. Get in touch: christine@paxglobalmedia.com.

Yesterday (Nov. 29) concluded a four-day tour of the Dominican Republic's north end, as part of Air Canada Vacations Mega FAM, which had travel agents taking in the news and views of some of the island's hottest all-inclusive resorts in the northern cities of Samana and Puerto Plata

This action-packed FAM ran from Nov. 27 through Nov. 29, during which the energetic agents conducted site inspections at 14 properties in both Samana and Puerto Plata. Agents were divided into three groups; Group A, Group B, and Group C. PAX was part of Group C, led by Martha Dela Torre, area sales manager, ACV, and Heike Michel, supervisor, north coast, Hola Tours & Travel, who provided outstanding destination knowledge throughout the trip.

Our host hotels included the four-star BlueBay Villas Doradas; the five-star Grand Bahia Principe San Juan; and the four-star Grand Bahia Principe Cayacoa.

From full-day tours across the island to pulling off a rescue mission after another group's bus broke down on the side of the road, this FAM was one for the books, and also the one that Dana Gain, senior director of sales, Air Canada Vacations, called "the best one yet".

Here are some of the incredible resorts we saw in Puerto Plata:

Property: Senator Puerto Plata

Set for a soft opening tomorrow (Dec. 1) it was all hands on deck when the group arrived at Senator Puerto Plata. Groundskeepers were seen hurrying loaded wheelbarrows, and we couldn't help but feel the excitement, seeing them put the final touches on what's set to be an incredible five-star resort. 

READ MORE: Sneak peek: Here's what the new Senator Puerto Plata will look like

Vibe: Upscale and elegant; modern and exclusive; sophisticated with authentic Spanish flair; brand new.

Clientele: Couples, business professionals, wedding groups, corporate clients.

Design: Modern decor, accents of turquoise, cream, and white; warm honey-coloured wood; impressive columns; suspended, cut-out geographic light fixtures; well-manicured gardens and pathways.

Stand-out features

  • Targeted mainly towards adults. 
  • There is free WiFi throughout the resort, not just in the lobby. 
  • A Paradisiac Solarium has sun loungers and umbrellas in the pool, as well as out on the beach. While by law, beaches in the Dominican Republic are open to the public, this beach is strictly for guests of the hotel. 
  • For foodies, steakhouse has been added because according to staff, Canadians love steak, and Canadians are big business for the Dominican Republic. The property also boasts an Italian chef curating the Italian menus and a sea-view restaurant perfect for weddings; a big focus on the entertainment department.
  • The largest spa in the northern Caribbean featuring six pools and standout services.

Opening Dec. 1, 2018

For more information on this property, click here.


Property: Iberostar Costa Dorada


Vibe: Laid-back; family-friendly; affordable, despite its five-star status.

Clientele: Families with small children, millennial couples, small groups of friends, beach bums, sun worshippers looking to relax and unwind.

Design: Among the triplex buildings done in pale yellow, many pathways marked by flora and palm trees provide shady areas to relax outside, while wild peacocks roam freely. Splashes of bright Caribbean blues and corals mixed with classic white marble columns in the lobby make this resort feel like home-away-from-home for the week. Large shady plazas with benches, punctuated by bridges with ponds and waterfalls, are filled with wild birds and butterflies who happily land amongst the trees and gardens.

Stand-out features: 

  • A beautiful native orchid garden filled with flowers and a waterfall
  • Wednesday nights are Dominican-themed
  • Lots of outdoor patio space that feels like a European plaza
  • Early check-in and late-check out available
  • Star Prestige can be added to any Junior Suite booking
  • El Mercado buffet stays open 11 p.m until 5 a.m. for the party-animals looking for a midnight snack.

For more information on this property, click here.


Property: Be Live Collection Marien


Vibe: Quiet, laid-back, people reading by the pool, or lounging on floaties.

Clientele: Mostly adults, thanks to the Adults Club, but families are welcome too (the master suite includes two twin beds and one king-sized bed, pictured above).

Design: Thatched tiki huts and dark wood set against white-washed concrete in the lobby; exterior walls of triplexes done in burnt orange and sienna with white balconies on every room.

Stand-out features: 

  • Five-star, 24-hour all-inclusive hotel
  • Wheelchair accessibility ramp going straight down to the beach
  • BBQ on the beach every Monday for $25 USD per person
  • Separate pools for kids and adults
  • Bay Spa offers a tranquil escape with six service rooms
  • VIP lounge offers free WiFi, snacks and premium beverages, and flatscreen TVs
  • VIP Beach Club for adults only offers a sectioned-off portion of the beach.

For more information on this property, click here.


Property: VH Atmosphere

Vibe: Small and intimate; calm and cool; elite; utter relaxation (think Spanish holiday); peace and quiet.

Clientele: Baby boomers, upscale clientele, and well-to-do modern business professionals who are into well-being and self care. This is not a place to drink and party all night, but more, to enjoy premium spirits by the pool and unwind. Note: minimum age is 18.

Design: A smaller property (193 rooms) with high ceilings, arched doorways and open terraces. Fascinating tile work on the floors and walls done in baby blue, royal blue, and white with modern artwork throughout. Incredible views of the Pico Isabel de Torres, a 793 metre-high mountain within Puerto Plata as well as the famous Playa Dorada Golf Club. Intricate woodwork, like cut-out pineapple facades. Leafy palms and hanging plants in the lobby; natural light fills the spaces and rooms. The property feels more European than Caribbean.

Stand-out features: 

  • A newly-renovated, adults-only property
  • Upstairs bar for Premium and Royal guests
  • Located in the heart of the 18-hole Playa Dorada Golf Course (20 per cent off golfing fees if you stay at this property)
  • An independent beach club for Premium and Royal guests
  • An infinity pool overlooking Pico Isabel and Playa Dorada Golf Club
  • The gym has floor-to-ceiling views of the golf course and a lovely pond filled with ducks and lilypads
  • Superior room categories have an outdoor jacuzzi. 

For more information on this property, click here.


Property: VH Gran Ventana Beach Resort



Vibe: Where beachhouse meets all-inclusive resort; modern and upscale like the VH Atmosphere, but a more inclusive feel; very social, with guests playing volleyball in the pool; lots of laughter and music; guests lounging in the sun, sitting around the lobby bars, or strolling around, drink in hand; a great mix of fun and relaxation, complemented by a cozy stay, courtesy of it being a family-run hotel.

Clientele: Young families; Canadians (they make up 50 per cent of guests); young couples looking to relax and party; repeat guests (a 40 per cent return rate).

Design: The perfect mix of Victorian and Caribbean architecture, the property has undergone several renovations since it opened in 1996. This is the original birthplace of the "Vintage Club" concept now taking off throughout the Dominican, with intricate metalwork in the lobby and rustic farmhouse wood throughout the property, high ceilings in the lobby with slanting white beams and very spacious and open-concept throughout. Pastel colours on the outside facilities and turquoise, cream, beige and grey accents in the rooms, much like the colour scheme over at VH Atmosphere. 

Stand-out features: 

  • Sweeping views of the Caribbean Sea right from the lobby
  • One hour daily use of watersports, four wheelchair-friendly rooms
  • VIP beach area for Premium and Royal guests
  • 400 metres of beach that's marked by natural vegetation like wild sea grapes and mangroves, which sets this beach apart from others in the country, offering shade and diversity
  • Free honeymoon package for all newlyweds (with valid wedding certificate upon arrival, valid three months after issue).

Note: WiFi is not included. An additional charge of $35/week applies. Guests can access free WiFi by the theatre 24/7.

For more information on this property, click here.


Property: Sunscape Puerto Plata


Vibe: High-energy; friendly and outgoing; incredibly social; comfortable.

Clientele: Adults and couples, or families with older kids; party-goers in bikinis and swim shorts, dancing to house music with drinks in hand (make it two).

Design: Well-manicured lawns and gardens, with cookie-cutter hedges (think Alice and Wonderland); triplex buildings with covered balconies which are great for shade, and to escape the rain (this part of the Dominican does get a rainy season). Corinthian columns, arched windows, white wood and white walls; an over-the-pool restaurant perfect for wedding venues; turquoise and beige or tangerine and beige colour combos in the rooms. There are also special sections just for adults or just for families (like a gated community) where you can't hear the loud music throbbing from the main pool.

Stand-out features: 

  • Adults-only dining spaces; every room has its own balcony
  • Sun Club for adults-only
  • A wedding showroom on site, as well as a gazebo to tie the knot
  • Tight next door to VH Gran Ventana Beach Resort.

For more information on this property, click here.


Property: Grand Bahia Principe San Juan

Vibe: Chilling around the pool; laid-back; "lazy Sunday morning" mood; relaxing; social yet calm; interactive and engaging.

Clientele: Couples in love; honeymooners; families; sun-worshippers, athletic vacationers playing on the beach or taking scuba diving lessons in the pool.

Design: Dark metal lattice work in the lobby; shiny emerald and white marble floors in a lobby that mimics the classic, Victorian-era architecture found in the Dominican Republic; sunny bursts of orange and blue in the Kids Club and inside the rooms woven into the decor.

Stand-out features: 

  • Impressive views of the ocean from the main buffet restaurant
  • One hour of water activities included for all guests
  • Capable of handling three weddings a week or more during high season
  • Diving lessons in the pool
  • 24-hour snacks and soft drinks.

For more information on the property, click here.


Stay tuned for our additional report on the site inspections we conducted in Samana, as well as the pirate-themed gala dinner!

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