When was the last time you treated yourself to a massage? Punta Cana, at the easternmost point of the Dominican Republic, lays claim to nearly 20 miles of beaches. This area has become a wellness destination thanks to top-notch resorts and spas. So go ahead—book that energizing Ayurvedic treatment or maybe a body wrap in an ocean-front cabana.
FOR OVERALL WELLNESS
Serious spa goers should make a beeline to Zoëtry Agua Punta Cana (zoetryresorts.com), a peaceful resort in northern Punta Cana. Walk along winding pathways flanked by native plants to the spa, an indoor-outdoor sanctuary with whitewashed walls and dark-wood accents. You can settle into a wicker chaise or carved daybed or take a dip in the pool while you wait for your appointment.
The treatment menu ranges from mini facials and yogurt-and-honey pedicures to the downright indulgent signature Zoëtry experience: a warm footbath, mud wrap, Swedish massage and facial. Therapists use a range of products, from the Barcelona-sourced Natura Bissé brand of skin care to local ingredients, like aloe, which grows right outside the spa’s door.
Healthy living is the emphasis at this property. Guests can start the day with yoga, and restaurants—the seafood-focused Indigo and the Italian Olena—have menus that include carb, protein and calorie counts. Those not staying at the resort can book treatments, though overnight guests receive a complimentary massage and a nutrition consultation.
Puntacana Resort & Club (puntacana.com), a 26-square-mile property that has 2 resorts and 18- and 27-hole golf courses, is the region’s original retreat. It was the founders, businessman Frank Rainieri and lawyer Theodore Kheel, who came up with the name Punta Cana, which has subsequently been adopted by the whole region.
The resort works with eco-friendly Six Senses (the Bangkok-based hospitality company has hotels and resorts all over the world) to manage its spa, housed in a British Caribbean–style clubhouse designed by Oscar de la Renta. Relaxation rooms overlook a serene swimming pool and royal-palm-dotted coastline.
Cozy up in a chaise before heading to one of 8 treatment rooms, individually designed with tranquil details. There are deep soaking tubs and couches loaded with pillows that invite you to linger; even when you’re stomach down on the massage table, you gaze into a bowl of bougainvillea.
You can mix and match 25-minute foot, hand and scalp massages—as well as treatments such as a Thai herbal massage, which uses acupressure and compresses, believed to help relieve aches and relax muscles. After you’re properly kneaded, you can head to a poolside table for a healthy lunch. The crab and local grouper ceviche is a standout dish, as is the fish of the day, cooked with sliced coconut.
There’s a terrific spa at the family-friendly Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana (dreamsresorts.com), 20 minutes north of the Punta Cana Airport. Its lobby, decorated with mosaics and a ceiling dotted with crystal-encrusted butterflies, sets a cheerful tone; there are 9 treatment rooms, including one with a wet spa table. You’ll stay horizontal while 5 nozzles hose you down with warm water. If you prefer to be oiled down, try a sabai mineral treatment, which incorporates rosemary and lavender extracts
Breathless Punta Cana Resort & Spa (breathlessresorts.com), the coastline’s recently opened adults-only property, debuted a spa to match its chic, upbeat vibe. The airy relaxation room is anchored by a swimming pool surrounded by Jacuzzis, ice-cold plunge pools and a foot-therapy circuit (you take an invigorating walk on stones as your legs are sprayed with hot and cold water).
It’s hard to pull yourself away from the serene space for your treatment; the 9 rooms have whimsical names, such as Infinity and Calm. The spa has developed a series of signature body therapies, including a caviar facial (using extracts of caviar and pearl) and a scrub-wrap-and-scalp-massage that incorporates local passion fruit and mango. If you’ve gotten too much sun, opt for the water lily wrap, which is reported to have cooling properties. Bonus for overnight guests: You’ll earn credits and discounts, depending on type of room.
Nikole Volk, the spa director at Iberostar Grand Hotel Bávaro (thegrandcollection.com), has opened spas all over the Caribbean. Now she’s spinning her magic at this 272-room property, also known for its impressive lobby, which has Spanish-tile floors, and grounds dotted with original sculpture. The 2-story spa has polished concrete walls, a winding wrought-iron staircase and treatment rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the ocean.
Treatment options include a 50-minute Ayurvedic massage (a slick rubdown punctuated by deep stretches) as well as the Caribbean Ritual: a milk bath, honey-and-oat body mask and essential-oil massage.
FOR RECOVERY AND REJUVENATION
The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana (hardrockhotelpuntacana.com) is one of the largest hotels in the Caribbean. There are 9 restaurants, 15 pools and 1,775 rooms, as well as a host of extracurricular activities, many of which fall into the after-midnight category. Musicians play on indoor and outdoor concert stages, and the casino is loaded with slots and craps tables. There are also 17 bars and lounges of the dress-up—or swim-up—variety.
After a late night, a spa day may be just what you need. A cascading staircase leads you to a low-lighted maze of cavernous spaces that have 20-foot ceilings. Lanterns frame pools, both in coed zones and in single-sex rooms. Couples and groups can gather in relaxation coves with water or hot tea in hand. Spa treatments include a salt-based body polish and a facial that uses organic Amala products.