Dreams Punta Cana All-Inclusive Resort: Our Review

Our trip to Dreams Punta Cana was mostly smiles despite a few hiccups early in the trip.

Our trip to Dreams Punta Cana was mostly smiles despite a few hiccups early in the trip.

Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa is an all-inclusive family resort on Uvero Alto beach in the East Coast of the Dominican Republic. It's a spacious property that has a world class pool, fun activities and excellent childcare.

Punta Cana is an expensive place despite some major shortcomings (e.g. the water is not safe to drink). Nevertheless, Uvero Alto beach is home to many destination weddings and luxury resorts for families and singles.

Our family spent a week at Dreams Punta Cana. We had a great time despite a rocky start and what we feel is too high of a price tag. (Our stay was more than $6,000 including transportation. Dreams Punta Cana isn't worth it for everyone.) We hope our experience will help you decide if a stay at Dreams is worth it for your family. Happy reading and safe travels, wherever you decide to go!

Pros

  • Pool - Dreams has the best pool we've seen. It's gigantic and snakes like a river down the center of the resort. There are perfect spots for swimming, relaxing, watersports and family activities, plus, a swim-up bar and plenty of shady spots to hide away in.

  • Activities - The activity leaders at the resort are personable and “pushy” in the right kind of way: They motivate people to attend the daily events and have fun with each other.

  • Buffet - Dreams' World Cafe has great service and a remarkable spread of international foods. The baked goods and deserts are among the best we've had (they're baked daily at 3 a.m.).

  • Childcare - Our daughter had a blast at the "Explorer's Club," and begged to stay there each day from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. She also enjoyed the resort’s food, drink and activities.

  • Facilities - The buildings at Dreams are capped at three stories and decorated with Taínos inspired artwork. There are coral fossils in the sidewalks and flamingos roaming the resort. It's a spacious place that's romantic at night.

Dreams Punta Cana has tasteful landscaping and lots of space, creating a relaxed vibe.

Dreams Punta Cana has tasteful landscaping and lots of space, creating a relaxed vibe.

Cons

  • Non-Potable Water - With the exception of bars and restaurants, the water at Dreams (and most of Punta Cana) is not safe to drink. Brushing our teeth with bottled water felt strange.

  • Spotty Service - Some of the staffers on the resort were unhelpful, unfriendly, or both. The end result was a trip with high-highs and low-lows. Being able to communicate with the staff in Spanish was a benefit.

  • Airport Transfers Not Included - Dreams is not a cheap resort and we were disappointed that we had to arrange our own transportation to and from Punta Cana International Airport (which cost around $200 extra).

  • Aggressive Vendors - The resort allows vendors on its property. They sell cigars, artwork and jewelry. We found them annoying, aggressive and unwilling to take "no" for an answer.

Our Verdict and Rating

  • 4 out of 5* - Dreams Punta Cana gets many things wrong, but what it does well more than compensates for those missteps. This is a fun resort that we'd be happy to visit again.

*Non-Spanish speakers should subtract half a point from this rating. Additionally, we would have rated the resort a full point lower had we not booked a "Preferred Club" room (that unlocked certain benefits around the resort). Our trip could have been "2.5 out of 5" under a slightly different set of circumstances.

What Other Reviews Say

What's Included in the "Unlimited Luxury" (i.e. All Inclusive) Price?

  • Food, including all meals and snacks;

  • Alcohol, including beer, wine and spirits;

  • Childcare for children ages 3 to 12;

  • Teen club with daily activities;

  • Daily classes, activities and sports;

  • Stage shows and entertainment;

  • Non-motorized watersports (e.g. kayaks, paddleboards);

  • Cribs and rollaway beds;

  • 24-hour room service;

  • Gym access;

  • Towels;

  • Wi-Fi; and

  • Tips and gratuities.

What's Available, but Not Included in the Price?

  • Premium wines;

  • Private dining;

  • Spa services;

  • Butler service;

  • Laundry service;

  • Private cabanas;

  • Bring your dog;

  • Golf;

  • Amstar tours and excursions;

  • Horseback riding;

  • Scuba diving;

  • Motorized watersports by SeaPro;

  • Casino;

  • Babysitting;

  • Hair braiding;

  • Weddings;

  • Late check out; and

  • Preferred Club amenities (see below).

A Note About the "Preferred Club"

The hors d'oeuvres at Dreams’ Preferred Club Lounge are worthy of a standalone meal.

The hors d'oeuvres at Dreams’ Preferred Club Lounge are worthy of a standalone meal.

There is no difference between a Dreams "Deluxe" room and a "Preferred Club" room, as far as the room itself goes.

A preferred room unlocks various privileges and amenities throughout the resort. There are major advantages to booking a preferred room:

  1. Preferred guests are allowed to access the Preferred Club Lounge, which houses the best bar on the resort and a wonderful buffet of gourmet snacks (from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.);

  2. The best seating on Uvero Alto beach (including cabanas with mattress beds) is reserved for preferred club members; and

  3. Preferred guests can request a goose feather pillow to replace the foam pillow that all rooms have by default (the down pillow is a huge improvement).

Other nice-to-have privileges include:

  • Computer access;

  • Upgraded room service menu;

  • Exclusive breakfast and lunch at Oceana restaurant; and 

  • Discounts at the spa and stores.

Layout and Vibe

Dreams is a beautiful and spacious resort with a relaxed vibe. There are shady nooks extending from the welcome center all the way to the beach. The resort is decorated with Taínos-inspired artwork (the indigenous people of the Dominican Republic) and a pack of flamingos roam freely. The wide sidewalks are imprinted with coral fossils and the landscaping is beautiful. We also appreciated the small details, like grab-and-go umbrellas in case of rain.

The resort is stunning in the evenings. The glassy pool reflects like a mirror, and despite that lighting, plenty of stars and constellations are visible in the night sky.

The resort is stunning in the evenings. The glassy pool reflects like a mirror, and despite that lighting, plenty of stars and constellations are visible in the night sky.

At night, the entire resort is well lit and takes on a romantic vibe like the Caribbean Village at Beaches Turks and Caicos. There are lots of stars and constellations visible in the night sky. The buildings at Dreams are three-stories and the architectural-style is consistent throughout the resort. In fact, Dreams is a more cohesive resort than Beaches Turks and Caicos. (Beaches' Italian Village is newly constructed and the Key West Village was a neighboring resort that Beaches acquired.)

Mosquitoes and Fumigation

Despite having a stagnant pool directly behind our room, mosquitoes were not a problem.

Despite having a stagnant pool directly behind our room, mosquitoes were not a problem.

The Dominican Republic suffered a Zika virus epidemic in 2016 through 2017. Outbreaks seemed to have died down since then, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still advises travelers to take precautions.

The resort sprays for mosquitoes daily. There is also an optional in-room fumigation (we declined). We spotted three mosquitoes over a six day trip, however, no one in our family suffered a bite. We used 25% DEET bug spray and wipes to protect ourselves each morning and evening.

Rooms (and a Warning About Construction)

Dreams has "pool view" rooms that face the inside of the resort and "tropical view" rooms that face out. We think the pool view rooms are a better choice. All the tropical view rooms in buildings 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 overlook a construction site (a new resort is being built next door).

Construction or not, we believe that buildings 6, 7, 8 and 9 are more conveniently located. 

Our room was in building 6. It was steps away from the beach, pool, Preferred Club Lounge, kid's club and many dining options. In our opinion, this was the best location on the resort (and it helped offset our overall disappointment with our room).

Cost

Our vacation package for three (including airfare) cost around $1,000 per day. We believe that Beaches' family resort in Turks and Caicos is a better value because Turks and Caicos is a safer, more prosperous island, but our family had more fun at Dreams.

Childcare

Our daughter shows off a necklace that a friend made for her during craft time at the “Explorer’s Club.”

Our daughter shows off a necklace that a friend made for her during craft time at the “Explorer’s Club.”

Dreams' "Explorer's Club" is for children between ages 3 and 12. The signup process is painless and the resort conveniently provides a telephone to contact parents in case of emergency. Our daughter loved her counselors and made fast friends during the daily activities they prepared. She also enjoyed having meals at the World Cafe (a buffet with a huge selection of kid-friendly foods).

Teenagers have their own section of the resort. The "Core Zone" is an age restricted area that is specifically for those aged between 13 and 17. Some of the attractions include batting cages, table games and an outdoor movie theater.

Pool

The pool at Dreams Punta Cana is amazing. It's a huge, winding river that flows down the middle of the resort. It's good for swimming, floating, relaxing with a cocktail, mingling, playing sports and pretty much anything else you can do in a pool. We spent a huge portion of our trip in it.

A photograph cannot do justice to the pool at Dreams Punta Cana. It’s the best we’ve been in.

A photograph cannot do justice to the pool at Dreams Punta Cana. It’s the best we’ve been in.

There are lots of kid-friendly floats and foam mats available; we never had to wait for one.

Our only complaint is that the resorts' towels stain clothing. The orange dye transferred onto our light colored garments. For that reason, it may be wise to bring a beach towel.

Service

Some workers at the resort, especially those who don’t deal directly with guests, speak little to no English.

Some workers at the resort, especially those who don’t deal directly with guests, speak little to no English.

The staff at Dreams is a mixed bag. We met wonderful people and we encountered workers who treated us like we were ghosts. Thankfully, we had the best service where is counted most (at the kid's club and in the restaurants where we dined most often).

The resort's activity leaders were another bright spot. Dreams has a wonderful schedule of events and activities (more on that below).

We found that while almost every worker at Dreams speaks some English, it was easier to converse in Spanish if we needed to learn detailed information about something. Spanish isn't necessary, but it helps.

Tipping Policy

Tips and gratuities are included at Dreams, but that doesn't mean that tips are prohibited. (The staff at Beaches Turks and Caicos will not accept a tip; at Dreams, we never saw a tip go refused.) We didn't feel pressured to tip, nor did we feel like we received lesser service because we did not.

Restaurants

A Dominican breakfast, including eggs and salsa, sausage, fried plantains, sweet tortillas, cinnamon french toast, grilled pineapple and ham. The absence of vegetables was a common theme.

A Dominican breakfast, including eggs and salsa, sausage, fried plantains, sweet tortillas, cinnamon french toast, grilled pineapple and ham. The absence of vegetables was a common theme.

The restaurants at Dreams Punta Cana are hit or miss, but the food is excellent overall (and the buffet is downright awesome). We had an amazing meal and white-glove service at Bordeaux, the resort's adults-only restaurant. Oceana has good food and service and a spectacular ocean view. The World Cafe is probably the best buffet that we've eaten at and the resort's baked goods are to die for. (The onsite bakery starts churning out breads and pastries each day at 3 a.m.)

Most restaurants at Dreams have bars and restrooms inside, unlike the restaurants at Beaches Turks and Caicos. This is a convenience that is easy to take for granted.

We also had fantastic food at the resort's Preferred Club Lounge and during outdoor events like the Dominican Party. These meals outside of restaurants helped to maximize our time at the resort.

Open Bar

Our daughter sips a virgin “Flamingo” cocktail. Meanwhile, the drink’s namesake is also hoping to cool off by the pool.

Our daughter sips a virgin “Flamingo” cocktail. Meanwhile, the drink’s namesake is also hoping to cool off by the pool.

The open bar at Dreams Punta Cana has beer and wine options, but it favors mixed drinks. 

We think the selection of beer, wine and liquor available at Beaches is superior to what Dreams offers, however, we greatly preferred the frozen and tropical drinks at Dreams. 

Navy Grog, a classic tiki cocktail, was our go-to drink when relaxing in the pool. We also enjoyed several frozen drinks like a Flamingo, Coco Loco and Mudslides. We suffered brain freeze, but never a hangover.

The bar inside Preferred Club Lounge is the best place to score top shelf liquor like Don Julio Anejo tequila and Brugal Leyenda rum. We began most evenings at the lounge having an aperitif of fine Dominican rum.

Activities and Entertainment

There are dozens of things to do at Dreams Punta Cana. The resort publishes a daily schedule of events as well as a backup schedule in case of rain. (Thankfully, we didn’t have any rain days.)

We participated in dance lessons, aerobics, yoga, trampoline fitness and special events like a foam party, fresh-catch fish cookout and a Dominican cultural festival.

The beach foam party at Dreams Punta Cana is good, clean fun. A cannon shoots bubble-bath like foam on top of kids and parents. Smaller kids will need help getting into the bounce-house like foam pit.

The beach foam party at Dreams Punta Cana is good, clean fun. A cannon shoots bubble-bath like foam on top of kids and parents. Smaller kids will need help getting into the bounce-house like foam pit.

The activity leaders are "pushy" in the right kind of way. This gentle coercion results in well-attended events. Comparatively, some of the things to do at Beaches Turks and Caicos (like soccer games) don't materialize because the guests are left to their own devices.

The one downside to this wrangling is that the first participants may stand around for a while. For example, we waited on the beach for 20 minutes while the staff was looking for guests who wanted to eat freshly-cooked mahi-mahi. After that, we made a point of arriving fashionably late to events.

Dress Code

Dreams is a casual resort. The dress code is only in effect at restaurants and the Preferred Club Lounge. This code is basically summarized as "no wet or exposed bathing suits allowed, nor sleeveless shirts on men." The strictest dress code is at Bordeaux, the resort's adults-only restaurant. Flip-flops and t-shirts are prohibited and men must wear long pants.

We saw many well dressed ladies in evening wear, but most men got by in shorts and dress sandals. Resist the urge to bring dark-colored clothes or leather shoes. Light colors and fabrics are appropriate in Punta Cana's tropical weather. For more packing ideas, check out our guide to what to bring to Dreams Punta Cana.

Weddings

This outdoor wedding reception was held down a quiet, picturesque alley with a private bar.

This outdoor wedding reception was held down a quiet, picturesque alley with a private bar.

We saw several weddings at Dreams Punta Cana, but we never attended one.

Most of the weddings that we saw were in semi-private nooks. Large weddings can be somewhat of a nuisance for other guests, resulting in closed restaurants or inaccessible parts of the resort.

Dreams offers various wedding packages that include discounted rates for guests.

Spa and Gym

Dreams' spa services are not included in the price. The spa looks (and smells) lovely, but we didn't purchase any treatments. The fitness center is in the same building as the spa. It's a compact gym, but a functional one. There are cardio machines, benches and barbells, nautilus-style machines and dumbbells ranging from 5 to 50 pounds.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to drink the tap water?

No, the tap water at Dreams Punta Cana is not safe to drink. The exception is at bars and restaurants where the tap water (including ice cubes) has been filtered. 

Who owns Dreams?

Dreams is owned by AMResorts, a company that owns resort brands like Secrets and Breathless.

Is Dreams gay-friendly?

We have no firsthand experience, but we did see several same-sex couples at the resort.

When is check-in and check-out?

Check-in time at Dreams Punta Cana is 3 p.m. Check-out time is at 12 p.m. Late check out can be arranged with the concierge for $10 per hour depending on availability.

What is the resort's tipping policy?

Tips are accepted, but not expected nor required.

Does the resort fumigate for mosquitoes?

Yes, Dreams Punta Cana fumigates for mosquitoes on a daily basis. In-room fumigation is optional.

Can you smoke?

All indoor areas at Dreams Punta Cana are non-smoking, however, smoking is allowed on balconies and terraces. Cigars are available for sale throughout the resort.

Is topless sunbathing allowed?

No, Dreams prohibits women from sunbathing topless in the pool or beach areas.

What beach is Dreams Punta Cana located on?

Dreams Punta Cana is located on Uvero Alto beach.

Are there elevators?

The welcome center has an elevator, but other buildings in the resort do not. Guests with mobility issues are encouraged to choose a ground floor room.

Are pets allowed?

Yes, small dogs are allowed (at an extra expense). Details are published on Dreams' website.

Can you leave the resort?

Yes, but transportation is not included.

Is there a casino?

Yes, Dreams Punta Cana has a casino in the same building as the welcome center.

Is alcohol included?

Yes, beer, wine and spirits are included. Premium wines are available for purchase.

Does Dreams have room service?

Yes, Dreams Punta Cana has 24-hour room service.

Are wristbands required?

No, the resort does not use wristbands.

What does butler service include?

For an additional $35 per room, guests with butler service may request breakfast in bed, dinner reservations, bath preparation, shoe shine service and other amenities.

Is there a waterpark or lazy river?

Dreams Punta Cana doesn't have a waterpark or lazy river, however, the pool is similar to a lazy river.