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7 things to know before booking a stay at Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana

Oct. 08, 2022
11 min read
Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana
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The Dominican Republic is well-known for its all-inclusive resorts, and Punta Cana plays host to many of them — including Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana.

In late 2021, Hyatt Hotels completed its acquisition of Apple Leisure Group, including all-inclusive properties from the Dreams brand. Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana became part of World of Hyatt's Inclusive Collection in May, but most offerings and room types have remained the same.

The Dreams brand is family-friendly and claims to offer unlimited luxury with everything included. So, here's my take from a stay my husband and I enjoyed earlier this year before the resort became bookable through Hyatt.

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Cost

Now that Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana is part of World of Hyatt, it's a Category A property in the World of Hyatt all-inclusive award chart. As such, you can redeem Hyatt points for your stay as follows:

  • Standard room: Between 12,000 and 18,000 points per night.
  • Club room: Between 18,000 and 24,000 points per night.
  • Standard suite: Between 21,000 and 27,000 points per night.
  • Premium suite: Between 24,000 and 36,000 points per night.
  • Third or fourth guest in a room: Between 6,500 and 8,500 points per person per night.
HYATT.COM

Of course, you should also check paid rates — especially now that you can earn points when you book directly with Hyatt. Paid rates for double occupancy in a base-level deluxe room with a tropical view range from $181 to $267 on most dates.

Many guests I spoke to during my stay had booked flight and hotel packages through online discount travel agencies. In particular, multiple guests mentioned booking through cheapcaribbean.com. I actually booked through American Airlines vacations. Booking a package through an online travel agency might provide good value if you aren't interested in getting Hyatt elite nights and benefits.

Beyond the cost of the stay, there were plenty of opportunities to pay extra for special dinners, wine, spa services and excursions. But you could also have a good stay at this all-inclusive resort without needing to pay anything extra.

Related: How to redeem Hyatt points for upgraded rooms and suites

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Things I loved

  • This resort doesn't offer dinner reservations. If a table at your restaurant of choice isn't available, pick up a buzzer and get a drink from the bar while you wait for a table to be ready.
  • The dinner options are good, with the hibachi restaurant being a particularly fun and tasty experience.
  • The Core Zone activity area with gaming consoles and table tennis is designed for teens but provides fun for all ages.
  • There are complimentary kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, sailboats and snorkeling at the beach.

Drawbacks

  • Check-in required a lot of paperwork and felt scammy. And the "welcome home" refrain from the check-in staff felt forced and insincere.
  • Men aggressively selling trinkets, tours and other items made relaxing on the beach difficult.
  • Our room was relatively basic and dated even though we'd booked an upgraded room type.
  • There aren't enough chairs around the pools, so it's difficult to snag a seat unless you get up early to reserve a lounger.

Vibe: Everyone welcome

Dreams markets itself as offering a "luxurious, all-inclusive, kid-friendly vacation." However, based on my experience, Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana attracts more couples than families. There were some families, but most guests were there sans kids.

Although some couples chatted in the pools, at the bar and during our hibachi dinner, most groups kept to themselves. There was no music at the Preferred Club pools, as this area was supposed to be peaceful. But by the pool bar, there was chill background music, and by the entertainment area, I heard "Sweet Home Alabama" several times while walking by.

Pool bars open at 10 a.m. and the lobby bar is the place to be until midnight. But, in general, the vibe at this resort was calm. I saw a few intoxicated couples dancing, but that was the extent of the partying.

Related: How to book a trip to the Dominican Republic using points and miles

Room

Our room was basic, sterile and dated despite booking an upgraded Preferred Club premium room with a tropical view, and the view from our patio was uninspiring.

Our room felt more budget-friendly than luxurious. The wooden furniture felt totally dated and many of the drawers wouldn't close completely. Bright pops of orange clashed with the rooms wooden trimming — and a window with wooden shutters opening into the bathroom was just strange.

When we arrived, there were just four clothes hangers in the closet. We called for more hangers, but it took about two hours for them to arrive.

There were some stains on the pillows, but the bed was otherwise comfortable.

The bathroom was spacious, but there was mildew and bad caulking in the tub. The jacuzzi did work, though, and appeared clean. And unlike some guests I spoke to, we luckily had hot water.

The minifridge in our room contained two Presidente beers, two Coke Zeros, two Cokes, one Sprite, one Fanta and four water bottles when we arrived. Above the mini-fridge was a basic coffee set-up.

Unfortunately, there was a large gap under and around the main door, letting in noise from the hallway.

KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Related: 7 things to know before booking a stay at the Royalton Punta Cana All-Inclusive Resort & Casino

Dining and drinking

I enjoyed the dining selection at Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana and appreciated the no-reservations policy for dinner. Despite the inability to make a reservation, I was impressed that we only had to wait for one of our five dinners (the wait was about 30 minutes for hibachi).

There are five restaurants open for dinner. On our first night, we tried the Japanese-style venue. This restaurant offers hibachi seating (where you get fried rice, chicken, beef, seafood and your choice of fried ice cream or fried banana) and normal table seating (where you can order off a menu). We opted to wait for hibachi, and I was impressed with the chef's skills and the energy of the fellow guests at my table.

On the second night, we tried the Mexican restaurant. The food we ordered was fresh and tasty but wasn't authentic Mexican.

We tried the French restaurant on our third night. My steak was tender, but the salmon had been frozen and the food didn't actually seem all that French. The desserts were small portions but tasted good.

On our fourth night, we went to the Italian restaurant, which impressed us with its menu offerings and quality. But the restaurant served our five-course meal as three courses, so plates awkwardly piled up on our table.

We also ordered room service several times. Breakfast took about 25 minutes to arrive, while lunch took 50 and 55 minutes to arrive. Each time we ordered room service, the person taking our order seemed extremely eager to get off the phone. But, the food was warm and still relatively fresh when it arrived. The cheese quesadilla and fries, two classic comfort foods, were my favorites from the room service menu we tried.

We also went to the beach burger shack for lunch one day. This grill offers freshly prepared burgers, hotdogs and fries with picnic tables near the shack where you can eat your meal.

A coffee shop near the buffet serves various coffee drinks, including some with alcohol, and an assortment of tasty bread and pastries. I particularly enjoyed the banana bread and lattes. By day three of my five-night stay, the staff already remembered how I liked my coffee.

Preferred Club guests can also get snacks in the Preferred Club lounge and from a beachfront restaurant. We tried the restaurant while waiting for our room to be ready but didn't find the food to be better (or worse) than the other dining options.

Finally, I tried the breakfast buffet one morning and was surprised by its extensive American, European and Dominican offerings. My omelet was undercooked, but the hash browns and cinnamon French toast were highlights.

I never faced a sizeable line at the pool or lobby bars. If you have access to the Preferred Club, the bar in that area has higher-quality liquor. But, I enjoyed getting drinks from the resort's only swim-up bar, which was in the main pool. Unfortunately, the swim-up part of this bar closed two hours before the pool itself each day, so guests needed to exit the water to get drinks later in the day.

I mostly stuck to beer during my stay, but I did order a strawberry daiquiri from the walk-up pool bar near the Preferred Club pool one day. It took 78 seconds from when I got in line to when I had my drink. Although the pour was heavy, I didn't particularly like the drink since it used a watery, pre-made frozen mix and the bartender didn't adequately mix in the Classico alcohol.

KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Related: 7 things to know before booking a stay at Zoetry Agua Punta Cana

Activities

Most guests at this resort relaxed around the pool all day — and they took reserving loungers seriously. Each day when I walked around the pools around 9 a.m. I noticed guests had already claimed all the lounge chairs. Even before 8 a.m. — when towel distribution is supposed to start — guests had already claimed many chairs with towels.

Around 4 p.m. each day, I noticed all the chairs were still claimed and most had people in them. The resort has adequate space around its pools, so it should set up more chairs to accommodate more guests.

In total, this resort has four pools: one adults-only Preferred Club pool, one kid-friendly Preferred Club pool and two main pools open to all guests. There's a hot tub next to a pool in the Preferred Club area. Unfortunately, this hot tub was never even remotely warm.

There's an activity desk by the main pool where you can pick up towels, buy inflatable pool toys and book tours. There's also a fish therapy area, a minigolf hole and occasional pop-up casino tables around the pools.

The beach wasn't nearly as popular with guests as the pool area. The beach was pretty, with palm trees, and there were always some empty loungers. But the local salespeople were aggressive in selling tours and trinkets, which made me (and seemingly others) avoid the area.

The water sports center had many tours and activities on sale. But, there were also some complimentary activities on offer. For example, you could borrow kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, sailboats and snorkeling equipment. The water sports center even offered a free sailing lesson daily at 9 a.m.

Finally, you'll find a small casino and health clinic if you go out past the front desk and reception and alongside the parking lot.

KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

If you keep going, you'll find the teen-friendly Core Zone with pool, ping pong, foosball, a half-court for basketball and several gaming systems.

Next to the Core Zone is a tennis court and a kids club. The kids club was staffed but didn't seem to have any kids present when I went by one morning.

Related: 7 things to know before booking a stay at Royalton Chic Punta Cana

Recommendation

Frankly, even with this property falling in World of Hyatt's lowest all-inclusive award category, I'm not eager to return. The resort was fine — but for the money or points it typically costs, I'd rather try something different. And some of the issues I heard about from other guests — ranging from no hot water in the shower to people attempting to enter their room late at night — make me wary of recommending this resort.

However, I would likely return if I got an excellent deal or if I knew the resort had undergone significant renovations. As one couple I spoke to in the (cold) hot tub noted: "It's clean, just really outdated and worn."

Featured image by KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
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  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
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  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
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  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees