Live operatic music pirouetted through the Il Paradiso restaurant as we devoured an extraordinarily succulent Italian culinary feast. Our dinner at the Garden Circus steakhouse—I’ll have the mouthwatering octopus, thank you very much—was embellished with heavenly whisky cocktails and tableside circus acrobatics. My early morning wake up calls came with views of fairy tale castles.
No, the Luxury Bahia Principe Fantasia Don Pablo Collection is not your everyday all-inclusive. The resort delights in playing up its unique attributes—the playful resort mascot, a silly monkey, plays with children as they enter the main buffet restaurant, Larimar; jugglers and beautiful magical creatures—some butterfly-like and others adorned with flowing white dresses and golden horns—wander the grounds entertaining guests; a VIP area with a red-carpeted mini-staircase is set out for the littlest members of the family so they can reach the reception desk while checking in; there’s a kids-only gym; and the teen spa has an area for them to glam up for an Instagram-worthy photo shoot.
With Fantasia “we were looking to do something unique where everybody in the family could feel they were having a unique vacation,” says Helen Montijano, v.p. of sales and marketing, USA & Canada, Bahia Principe. “We want the parents to have their own time—to disconnect—and know that the children are being taken care of. We want the teenagers to have their own thing, and then we wanted to have something that was very interactive for the kids and their parents, so we have the cooking classes with the children. Fantasia has been successful beyond our expectations; the market is eating it up.”
The centerpiece of this Don Pablo Collection resort, which, incidentally, is Bahia Principe’s top-tier category, is its trio of castles—one houses the aforementioned Garden Circus restaurant, there’s another poolside with the Koroko sushi bar, and the one farthest from the lobby, but closest to the water park, plays host to the kids club. The very bright and airy kids club, for ages 4 to 12, is complimentary featuring Latin dance classes, picnics (parents are invited) and theater shows put on by the little ones for their families. Of course, there’s also an arts and crafts area, treasure hunts, and mini Olympic games.
It goes without saying that at a family resort keeping the kids happy is a top priority, so Montijano was eager to tell me about something she witnessed during a visit to Fantasia. “I visited as part of a FAM, undercover saying I was a travel agent, because I wanted to see agents’ reactions as they are the ones who sell it. They are the ones who really can get deep into it and say, ‘this yes, this no.’ So we were in the kids club and there was this little guy who must’ve been about 5 crying his eyes out, and we all walked in and we asked, ‘What’s the matter,’ and he cried, ‘I don’t want to go. I’m not leaving. I’m staying here forever.’ And I said, ‘Yes, that’s what we want to achieve.’”
Beyond exploring the castles, kids can splash around in the water park (exclusive to Fantasia guests only); they can hang by two massive pools; spend a day at the beach; and, of course, discover the rest of the Bahia Principe Bavaro Resort complex, which in addition to Fantasia is home to six distinct properties. The complex is massive, but it’s not overwhelming and there’s a shuttle service if guests want to explore the sports-centric area or the Caribbean village, with shops and nightly entertainment.
What’s unique, too, about Fantasia is, says Montijano, “that it’s the only hotel that has access to everything within the 7-resort complex. We don’t want to saturate Fantasia—it’s upscale, so we need to set it apart.”
Let Clients Know
• There are 516 Junior Suite Deluxe accommodations (2 adults, 3 children), and connecting rooms are available
• Butler service is available upon request—my butler called a few times daily to see if I needed anything
• Non-motorized watersports are included complimentary for an hour per day
• The three a la carte restaurants require reservations (Le Gourmet; Garden Circus; and Il Paradiso)
• In-room minibars can be customized for guests; and kids get their own mini-bathrobes
• They can sign up for a chocolate-making class at the Chocolate & CIA shop, located on the complex (extra fee)
Luxury Bahia Principe Fantasia: bahia-principe.com