Be sure you’re armed with all of the tips and tricks you need to make your stay at the IBEROSTAR Bávaro in Punta Cana everything you dream it’ll be. Indulgent TravelingMom Andrea Traynor wants you to come prepared to reconfigure your room to suit your family’s needs, order off the drink menu to avoid sugar crashes and find the resort’s hidden treasures—like fresh coconuts and the ice cream hut.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much research you do before booking a trip. Sometimes you may find yourself at a hotel or resort that initially doesn’t meet your needs or expectations. But with a few trusty hacks from families who’ve been there before, you can turn a good vacation into a great one. Such was the case when we visited the IBEROSTAR Bávaro Suites in Punta Cana.
This all-inclusive resort sits on arguably one of the Caribbean’s best beaches, and certainly the best in the Dominican Republic. It has all of the ingredients required to make your stay a happy one—as long as you know what to expect and how to make those ingredients work for you.
IBEROSTAR BÁVARO LODGING
When booking, be sure to specify which room arrangement you want. The rooms are clean and nicely appointed, but there are are only two kinds: one with two double beds and one with a king. There are no adjoining rooms nor are there any suites with separate master bedrooms.
Don’t confuse the described sofa bed with a pullout sofa; it’s simply a small sofa on which you can put sheets and add a pillow for one child under age six to use as a cot. Just be forewarned that it’s small and a bit uncomfortable.
If you’re good with two double beds, perfect. Otherwise, don’t be afraid to MacGyver your room a little. You’ll probably need to adjust the IBEROSTAR Bávaro family suites to accommodate your brood.
In a suite with two doubles, there’s room to bring in one extra rollaway bed. We had a king bed, and a very nice manager on duty who agreed to our request for two rollaways in our room. Just don’t count on the latter.
If you love eating at à la carte restaurants, make all of your reservations the day you arrive.
Each onsite restaurant opens at 6:30 p.m. for first seatings, except the steak house, which is at 7 p.m. By midweek, it was more challenging to get the earlier reservations. Not that it mattered, though, because the resort’s buffet was so (so, so!) exceptional.
Find the ice cream hut! It’s behind the poolside buffet and easy to miss unless you’re looking for it.
Watch for the guy on the grounds with the coconut wagon, who will gladly slice open a fresh coconut for you. Me? I’m a coconut freak. The kind who gladly tossed a dollar into the coconut guy’s basket to get an extra slice so I could rip the luscious coconut meat out with my bare hands.
If your shuttle back to reality leaves at noon, you won’t be able to get food from the buffets after the breakfast rush. I hit up Star Café for sandwiches and drinks that we enjoyed in the lobby.
Although the café con leche (coffee with warm milk) at the breakfast buffet is fine, it doesn’t hold a candle to the hand-crafted specialty coffees from Star Café. There’s no Baileys on-hand, but I made a daily pit stop at the lobby bar for a little splash.
We were in love with the fresh juice bar at the breakfast buffet. But if your kids are smoothie freaks like mine, you’ll find it challenging the rest of the day since all of the “virgin” drinks are pre-mixed, heavily sugared slush.
You can order a banana con leche (banana with milk) milkshake that’ll be made from scratch at just about any bar – even though it’s not on any drink menu. Depending on the bartender, you may also need to request “no sugar, por favor.” The ingredients? A freshly peeled banana, milk and ice.
Want a little extra flavour infusion with sugar you can control? Ask for a swirl of strawberry or chocolate syrup in the cup.
Use your towels to save your preferred palapa before you have breakfast. We liked those on the backside of the waterpark; they boast all-day shade, are right beside a bar, a 30-second walk to the outdoor buffet and only seconds more to the beach and ocean.
The waterpark’s big bucket doesn’t start up until at 11 a.m at earliest. My kids were pretty nervous about being dumped on when we arrived, so at first we went to the waterpark directly from breakfast. Within two days they were begging for the bucket to be turned on!
There’s a toddler-sized pool with only about a foot of water located near the pool that sits between the IBEROSTAR Dominicana and IBEROSTAR Punta Cana properties. Both are both part of the expansive IBEROSTAR complex and only a five-minute walk from the IBEROSTAR Bávaro grounds.
I wish we’d brought a pack of cards for rainy days. The kids’ club has board games but cards were hard to come by and staff didn’t want us to take the games to our room.
Although my children aren’t fans of kids’ clubs, it does offer onsite archery several days a week, which is fun, and a kids’ disco once a week—definitely worth the walk or short shuttle ride to the IBEROSTAR Dominicana.
OTHER HELPFUL TIPS
At the end of each day, don’t trade your towels for towel cards. Unless there are fresh towels to trade, keep your wet ones and hang them in your room lest you have nothing with which to save those palapas each day before the towel kiosk opens.
If you have kids who go to sleep before 9:30 p.m., cancel the evening turn down service. And don’t forget to put your “do not disturb” card in your key slot before hitting the hay — or you will have a visitor from housekeeping.
Remember that you’re in the tropics and “island time” is alive and well. If an activity is supposed to start at 2 p.m., don’t be alarmed when it casually begins later. Go with the flow and enjoy a life that’s a little less Type A.
TravelingMom Tip: Indulge in some mama me-time with a book in the orchid garden’s gazebo. It’s super tranquil and smells amazing.
BEFORE YOU BOOK
Then, all you have to do is count down the days until you leave.