On top of that, Beaches Turks and Caicos is a more luxurious all-inclusive family resort and airport transportation is included in the price. Nevertheless, we had more fun at Dreams than we had at Beaches (even though we think Beaches is the better resort overall).
Only you can decide if Dreams, or any all-inclusive resort, is worth it for your family. Here are a few things to consider:
Do You Want Luxury, or Fun?
We consider Dreams an authentic resort. The staff lets their personalities show through (many of them tease in good humor), which is unlike the pomp and circumstance of the service a luxury hotel. Dreams is fun. There are many things to do and no one takes themselves too seriously.
Do You Speak Spanish?
Our trip to Dreams wouldn't have been as successful if we weren't able to communicate in Spanish. The staff has varying degrees of English fluency, and while it's easy enough to communicate the basics, getting better service requires some degree of Spanish fluency.
The Importance of Dreams' "Preferred Club"
Many of the best parts of our trip hinged on us having a "preferred" room. This status only cost around $75 for the trip, but it unlocked huge benefits (like extra dining options and access to the best bar on the resort). Our trip may have been a bust if we couldn't access the preferred lounge.
Are You Traveling With Kids Younger Than 3-Years Old?
The group childcare at Dreams' Explorer's Club is for children aged 3-years and older. The program is excellent. Our daughter had more fun at Dreams than in the equivalent program at Beaches Turks and Caicos, however, the included childcare at Beaches begins with newborns.
Crime is common in the Dominican Republic and more than 25% of homicides are robbery-related. We felt safe because we arranged private transportation from-and-to the airport, but there were plenty of careless (or downright crazy) drivers on the roads. We also noticed smoke in the air in the early mornings because farmers burn their garbage.
The average worker in Punta Cana makes the equivalent of $300 U.S. per month. That's barely a livable wage and many people pad their income by preying upon tourists. For example, we met a family at Dreams that was quoted $245 to buy a painting at an art fair. They walked away with it for $45. Vendors solicit hard and all prices are negotiable, which can be annoying and stressful.
Cost and Deals
Our 6-day stay at Dreams Punta Cana cost around $6,200 for a family of three, including airfare and the ground transportation that we arranged with DominicanPlus. Vacation prices depend on the time of year; we wouldn't have been happy to pay higher prices during peak travel season.
Our family likes to stay 1.5 days at our destination for every hour that we spend in the sky. It's a silly rule, but it helps us to plan enough relaxation time on the ground. Flying to Punta Cana takes around 3.5 hours from our home in New York City and we stayed at the resort for 6 days. If we lived on the West Coast, we wouldn't have traveled to the Dominican Republic.
The food at Dreams Punta Cana is excellent overall. Meats, breads, fried foods and deserts were the highlights, but the vegetable dishes were disappointing.
We enjoy beer, wine and spirits on vacation. When you add it up, our combined bar tab would cost around $700 per stay. There is less value to be had at the resort by those who don't drink alcohol.
The beer and wines included at Dreams Punta Cana are limited and so-so, but there is excellent liquor in the Preferred Club Lounge and the mixed drinks on the resort are consistently great. Wine lovers should consider the open bar at Beaches Turks and Caicos: The included wines are excellent.