October 27, 2020

Destination of the week


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1297677184483_ORIGINALNew waves in the Caribbean: Chic resort part of trend toward more sophisticated island getaways

By Robin Robinson, From Toronto Sun

Punta Cana,
The mermaid is drawing an appreciative crowd as she dips and dives in her sparkling blue-and-white-tiled pool. Three Las Vegas-style showgirls — dubbed the “Chic Angels” — strut their stuff on a catwalk over the water. A DJ spins cool tunes on the pool deck and a barman makes the rounds with a tray full of colourful cocktails while the scene — a bit like Vegas meets The Little Mermaid — plays out.

South Beach soiree? Hip Vegas happening? Fashion Week fete?

None of the above.

Instead it’s a mid-afternoon mixer for guests at Chic by Royalton Punta Cana, the newest all-inclusive offering in Sunwing Vacations’ Adults Collection.

The resort, which opened in late December, is the new kid on Uvero Alto Beach located about 40 minutes from Punta Cana airport. Owned by Blue Diamond Resorts, a sister company to Sunwing Vacations, Chic is part of a new wave of sophisticated Caribbean retreats that strives to live up to its name in several ways.


Dark heavy woods and pretty pastels — once the hallmarks of Caribbean resort decor — are nowhere to be seen at Chic. In their place, a light breezy beach-club ambiance created by lots of cream-coloured marble and soft-grey stone in rooms and around public areas such as restaurants, lounges and swimming pools.

Situated in the centre of the resort, the pools are accented by eight curtained cabanas that can be rented for a full or half-day. Each cabana has a soaking pool and is outfitted with a couch, loungers, flat-screen TV, mini-safe and stocked bar.


I’m not a fan of the 1,000-plus room mega resort that is becoming increasingly common, so I love that Chic has a mere 323 rooms and suites. It’s big enough to have everything one might want — five a la carte restaurants, six bars, including a sports bar and mandatory swim-up bar, a disco, casino, spa and more — but still small enough to feel exclusive.

No matter where your room is located, you can walk to everything in less than five minutes. You don’t have to rush to the waterfront or pool-side at 6 a.m. to secure a lounge chair. And you don’t have to make restaurant reservations on Day One of your stay or miss out.

In fact, Chic’s restaurants don’t take reservations. They are strictly first come, first seated so you can dine according to what you feel like that day.

During my early March visit, the only small lineup I encountered was for morning cappuccino at the Insomnia Cafe.


There are three main levels of accommodation — rooms, junior suites, one bedroom presidential suites — some with swim-out option, plus the .

All rooms feature balconies or walkouts, one king or two double beds, mood-lighting, satellite TV, USB charging stations, free calling to North America and many parts of Europe, free WiFi and well-appointed bathrooms with rain-shower.

Guests who book Diamond Club accommodation enjoy oceanview junior suites with jacuzzi tubs, a club lounge — for check-in, continental breakfast, cocktails and canapes throughout the day — butler service, a dedicated beach area with waiter and sun-beds, use of the elevated Mermaid pool, a pillow menu, free visits to the hydrotherapy suite at the spa plus a 10% discount on treatments and more.


Fantasy meets reality at the Chic Mansion, a sophisticated spacious party palace designed to accommodate up to a dozen guests.

The Mansion’s six self-contained rooms — each with its own private terrace and luxury bathroom — are arranged around a two-storey shared lounge with floor-to-ceiling glass, which opens out to a private courtyard patio with a beautiful heated swimming pool, hot-tub, barbecue and areas for dining and reclining.

There is a lavish formal dining room, a fully equipped kitchen — where a resort chef can whip up a private dinner party — a large activity room with pool table and a wine cellar.

This type of exclusivity does not come cheap but is ideal for special occasion splurges such as a destination wedding.


While there is always something to eat somewhere on the resort — even 24-hour room service — the focus in restaurants is on food quality over quantity.

During our stay we dined at the well-curated Elements buffet — one of the better resort buffets I’ve tried — the atmospheric Moroccan-inspired Tagine, the whimsically named Vespa for Italian, and also enjoyed a blowout multi-course chef’s dinner at the Chic Mansion. Fish lovers won’t want to miss Pescari for sushi and ceviche, while meat-lovers should head to Hunter, the steakhouse.


With 15 treatment rooms, a full menu of treatments (massage, body scrubs, aromatherapy, etc.) and a hydrotherapy circuit with whirlpool baths at various temperatures and steam showers, spa lovers might be tempted to spend their entire vacation in the Royal Spa.

I opted for the Clouds Pathway reflexology massage and my therapist was experienced and excellent, which is frankly not always the case at resort spas.

Other creative treatments include the Royal Fusion for couples, which combines water immersion, body-scrub, facial and massage, and the 90-minute Royal Diamond facial, which uses fine-milled diamonds — yes, diamonds! — peptides and antioxidants to make skin glow.

Included with every spa treatment is a visit to the hydrotherapy suite, where I could have lolled about happily in the warm water for days.


The Dominican Republic is a lush and lovely land populated by friendly people so try to leave the resort at least once. Sunwing offers many excellent tours through sister company Nexus.

We took an all-day tour to Saona Island, which is fringed by some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Saona has been used in films — some scenes for Pirates of the Caribbean were shot there — and TV commercials.

Offshore of the country’s south-east tip, Saona is part of the East National Park and can only be reached by boat. In addition to its white sand beaches — with sand so powdery it doesn’t get hot — there are bathrooms, a few shops and plenty of shade from the abundant coconut palms.

Nexus has a prime permanent spot on the beach with shady and sunny areas, lounge chairs, a small bar and picnic tables for the included cocktails and buffet lunch.

You arrive at Saona by Catamaran and return to the resort by speedboat, stopping en route to see starfish and have a swim and a drink at the Blue Lagoon.

The lagoon is actually a huge sandbar in the ocean, where the water is an amazing shade of turquoise, very shallow and warm.


Having just opened in December, Chic’s entertainment offerings are still evolving. In addition to themed pool parties and night-time dance parties, the mermaid swims in her pool daily. While the elevated pool is for the use of Diamond Club guests, it has viewing windows, where all guests can watch the mermaid’s underwater acrobatics.

The Chic Angels are actually dance instructors who lead Zumba classes, teach guests how to cha cha and do merengue and salsa dancing. They take on their showgirl personas and dance at theme parties and other resort events.


All-inclusive packages for Chic Punta Cana are sold year-round in Canada exclusively by Sunwing Vacations. Prices vary depending on dates, rooms selected and departure city. For instance, a seven-night package from Toronto costs $1,065 (plus $425 tax) per person the week of June 3 and $2,575 plus $425 tax, the week of Dec. 26. Summer rates for Diamond Club junior suites start at $1,935 per person plus tax. And summer rates for the Chic Mansion start at $2,195 per person plus tax, based on 12 people sharing. For details, see sunwing.ca.

Famous for its natural beauty and part of a national park, Saona Island is a popular excursion for tourists. ROBIN ROBINSON/TORONTO SUN
Travel writer Caroline Parent gently examines starfish at the Blue Lagoon off the coast of the Dominican Republic. She only holds them out of the water for seconds so as not to stress them. ROBIN ROBINSON/TORONTO SUN
Seagulls hang around a popular gathering spot for fish off the coast of the Dominican Republic. ROBIN ROBINSON/TORONTO SUN
One of the Chic Angels strikes a pose at the resort’s Mermaid pool. The Vegas-style Angels give dance lessons and interact with guests at social events. ROBIN ROBINSON/TORONTO SUN
he private Jacuzzi and swimming pool in the courtyard of the well appointed Chic Mansion, which provides great accommodation for small groups, wedding parties, etc. ROBIN ROBINSON/TORONTO SUN
A traditional colourful rural house near Chic Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. ROBIN ROBINSON/TORONTO SUN
Just off the Dominican Republic mainland, Saona Island is part of a national park and famous for its natural beauty. It’s a popular day trip for tourists and has been used by filmmakers. ROBIN ROBINSON/TORONTO SUN

For more on this story and images go to: http://www.niagaraadvance.ca/2015/03/20/new-waves-in-the-caribbean-chic-resort-part-of-trend-toward-more-sophisticated-island-getaways

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