Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Punta Cana

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This is where you’ll find the resort’s most impressive restaurants, including Los Gallos, a Mexican restaurant which (owing to Palace Resorts’ Mexican roots, no doubt) serves up impressively authentic Mexican cuisine. Zen, a teppanyaki-style restaurant, is the only restaurant that requires reservations—and the only place on property that you’ll find those flowing white curtains, decorating a lounge area that looks plucked straight out of South Beach. Ciao, an Italian restaurant, rounds out the dinner offerings. But that’s just dinner. The Market offers buffet-style cuisine all day, and cafes and delis like Cafetto offer snacks and sandwiches. There’s even an ice cream parlor serving locally made frozen desserts.

The edgy, laid-back style that permeates the resort also extends to its casino which, at 45,000 sq. ft., ranks among the Caribbean’s largest. It’s filled with a wide variety of slots, and also offers table games including roulette, blackjack and a dedicated poker room. Plus, its Sport Book is lined with 86 screens, letting players sit back and watch nearly any game they have a stake in.

The Hard Rock casino is expected to become a hub of activity, not just for the resort, but for Punta Cana as a whole, when Oro nightclub and a restaurant conceived by “rock and roll chef” Kerry Simon open to the public this month. Neither the Miami-style club nor the celebrity restaurant will be part of the all-inclusive packages for guests, but by bringing more people into the facility, they should help to cultivate a hip party atmosphere—an essential part of the experience in this resort shaped by rock. Clients who’d rather not pay to party can head to Moon Lounge, a low-lit, clubby space, or to the Sun Bar, styled after a British pub.

Feelin’ Good Descending from the music, colors and lights of the casino into the Rock Spa one floor below, feels almost like going under water—there’s still a hint of the style above the surface, but it feels muted and soothing. Scents of lemon, cinnamon and chai follow clients from room to room throughout the impressive, 65,000-sq.-ft. space, including separate men’s and women’s steam, sauna and ice rooms, two communal swimming and plunge pool areas, and several places designed solely for sitting back and relaxing. With 48 treatment rooms in total, including couples’ and VIP suites, this is the largest spa in the Caribbean. Back upstairs, the Moon Beauty salon is a large, open area with dozens of stations for manicures, pedicures, hairstyling and more.

The Kids Are Alright
Many of the amenities and attractions at the Hard Rock—the double jacuzzis and showers in the rooms, for example—don’t exactly seem like they were designed with kids in mind. But the Hard Rock has made space for the rock stars of tomorrow, too. At the space-themed kids’ club, children ages 4 to 12 can do arts and crafts and play games on the Wii. Just a few doors down, an all-inclusive arcade lets kids (and grownups) try to beat the high score on auto racing, arcade basketball, Dance Dance Revolution and other video games. In addition, many suites have the option to interconnect, including plenty near the kids’ pool by the beach. And babysitting services are available, letting parents go out like rock stars whenever they want. Rates start at $400 pp per night.