Hotel Review: Hilton La Romana All-Inclusive, Dominican Republic
While we have been down in the Dominican Republic, we have come to absolutely love, trust and adore the Playa Resorts collection of hotels. This includes their Sanctuary Cap Cana, Hyatt Zilara and Ziva Cap Cana and the Hilton La Romana properties. Particularly during this unusual time, we’ve found their covid precautions to be excellent, their service to be wonderful and the experiences to be unparalleled. We were ecstatic to have the opportunity to try their Hilton La Romana property last weekend and can’t wait to tell you everything you need to know.
The Hilton La Romana is made up of two separate properties: the Hilton La Romana Family hotel and the Hilton La Romana Adult’s hotel. They are technically two separate hotels, but they are located directly next to each other, much like the Hyatt Ziva and Zilara properties. The Hilton used to be the Dreams resort complex and Hilton acquired it just a few years ago and completed a massive renovation of the resort.
The Hilton La Romana is situated on an incredible bay about 1 hour from the Punta Cana airport and about 90 minutes from the Santo Domingo airport. This is particularly convenient for travelers scouring for flight deals as these two airports are major international airports. The other thing to note about the location is the hotel is located on the southern coast of the Dominican Republic. The primary trade winds and current run offshore for the most part, with exceptions for rare weather and storms. This means that the property does not suffer from quite the same sargassum invasion as the rest of the Punta Cana area. This is particularly excellent news for guests traveling during the warmer summer months, where beaches like Bavaro are absolutely pummeled by sargassum.
The bay itself a small with calm waters and features only one other public beach area as well as a marina. Travelers from Punta Cana and the rest of the tourism area even have to come to this specific marina to take the tours to Isla Saona and Isla Catalina. This gives guests of the Hilton incredible access to two popular tours.
Lobby & Check in experience: 5/5
We were booked into the Premium Swim-up King room, meaning we have access to the club level on the adults-only side of the resort. Often, when we have showed up to resorts with a club level reservation, there has been a lot of confusion around the check in experience. However, this was absolutely not the case at the Hilton. We arrived at the lobby and were immediately assisted by the bellmen, who thanks to the security gate, knew our reservation was club level and directed us straight to the lounge. Since two other couples were checking in or out at the time, he took us towards one of the many seating areas to wait to check in. While we waited we were served a welcome drink of our choice (obviously, Rosé was in the picture).
We were checked in shortly after and the experience was excellent. Every detail of the property that was important to know about was shared, including the COVID-19 insurance guests can purchase for $29 per guest in the event they test positive before flying back to their country. This would entitle a guest to stay for free until their quarantine is over. They also explained how the complimentary Antigen and PCR testing worked and how to schedule an appointment. Max and I were not leaving the country so we did not need to go through the experience, but we wanted to know all the details to share with you.
After getting a thorough explanation of the property, what we can access, and what we need to know, we met our butler and were off to explore the property.
Both the Premium Club and the lobby itself are stunning. The property has undergone an excellent renovation that brings to light the beauty, lightness and “modern-caribbean chic” aesthetic that makes this Hilton incredibly unique. The lobby is airy, bright and features both a bar and a cafe with ample seating, gorgeous lighting and our favorite furniture company that we keep seeing across the high end hotels in the area. The Premium Club has a similar aesthetic and provides a wonderful retreat for guests to either work, enjoy cocktails or beverages or grab a snack.
We were checked into our Premium Swim Out Garden View King and overall, we really liked the aesthetic, use of space and modern amenities. The room is certainly on the small side, coming in at 411 square feet and this is the standard size of every room in the complex, with the exception of the few suites available. The suites come in at just around 828, about double the size of every other room type. Every room at both the Adults or the Family hotel are the exact same in terms of size, amenities and aesthetic. There are no “unique” rooms or shapes to be found, so what you see on the website is exactly what you’re going to get. The difference you will find is simply the views. The Swim Out rooms on the premium adults side face away from the resort and are incredibly private. There is no walkway or building on the other side of the pool, making this a very desirable swim out room. I typically tend to steer away from swim outs due to their, usually, very public locations on walkways or main areas of the resort. While this is what some people do like, it’s usually not our go-to. The other swim out rooms around property were similar, with fairly private locations, compared some of the other hotels we have stayed at.
All the rooms feature Crabtree & Evelyn bath amenities, a large rainshower, comfortable bed (king or two doubles) and a small seating area. The TV is large and does offer many English channels. However, we did find the menu to be clunky and difficult to operate. There is a master switch located next to the bed for convenient access to turn off all the lights and the AC is excellent.
The aesthetic between the Adults Side and the Family Side are similar, but there are a few unique decorative elements in each. What you’ll notice is that the rooms looks the exact same in terms of size, angle on property and overall “bones”. The only difference is the cosmetic look.
You can see our Premium Swim Out room:
Versus the Standard King room on the Family side:
Now, the difference between Premium level and standard is primarily service and facility based. While the rooms are the exact same, there are valuable “extras” that made the Premium experience worthwhile.
First, the check in experience is exclusive, private and relaxing. There is no concept of a “check in line” in the lounge. Even with a wait, we relaxed with a welcome beverage in a comfortable seating nook instead of standing in a line. This lounge is also available to guests all day as they do have a full bar and some snacks (which aren’t as exciting during COVID, but the bar makes up for it). The Premium Bar features liquors like Campari, Aperol, Bacardi, Brugal, Morini, Dewar’s, Evan Williams, Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, Tanqueray, Absolut, Bombay, Gordon’s and more. While the liquor selection varies a bit on the standard bar side, I wouldn’t call it dramatically different. The wine selection is the same across the entire hotel, which is Duc Oliver sparkling wine, Revero white wine (standard low end chardonnay), Cayo Sol Rosé (standard low end rosé) or Virtuoso Rosé (standard low end rosé) and a couple of standard low end reds. I was a little surprised to not see a higher end choice of wines in the club level as we have seen at resorts like Hyatt, however, the wines were fine for an all-inclusive.
Arguably the best reason to upgrade to club level is the access guests have to Noor (on the adults side) and The Grill (on the family side) for breakfast and lunch. Hotel guests not staying on the club level have access to the buffet restaurants for breakfast or room service for $5. Lunch, hotel guests not in club have access to a pop-up grill, pizza restaurant and the buffet. However, with club level, guests have access to two additional a la carté restaurants for both breakfast and lunch (with the same menus). The Grill was our favorite due to the stellar location on the edge of the water and we really enjoyed being able to enjoy a plated, served breakfast. Guests on club level also have access to complimentary room service.
Additionally, club level guests have access to purchasing a butler service for their stay, an amenity that standard rooms do not have access to. We find that the property does not do a great job advertising this incredible service, but it’s very worthwhile. Club level guests can purchase this service for $200 USD for 7 days (+$15 each day after that). The butler provides a range of services, such as planning restaurant reservations, romantic dinners and they can bring you anything you want at the pool and beach. Despite not serving food at the pool or beach, a butler can bring you lunch or drinks, wherever you are. We saw a number of butlers running around with menus and beverages for their guests. In the post-COVID world, they will unpack your luggage and coordinate a romantic breakfast on your balcony. One of the best features that I saw from a butler was that they can even reserve your pool or beach chairs for you. This is a really nice perk that I didn’t know about until I saw a “reserved” sign on the beach and inquired. If you’re looking for the “pinnacle” experience at the Hilton, it’s the addition of the butler. To purchase this service, you do have to book a club level room and then pay the property directly for the service.
Here are photos of the Family Side Club Lounge. It’s not quite the same “wow” factor:
The service at the Hilton La Romana was excellent all around. From the excellent arrival experience through to the food and beverage, housekeeping and front desk agents, we really didn’t have any negative service experiences at any point. The service was attentive, careful and refined. It is very clear that management is extremely focused on providing a higher level of service than what most would probably expect from an all-inclusive experience.
The butler service was a very unusual way of operating, in our experience. Instead of a butler being automatically added to Club rooms or suites, guests can opt-in to purchase the service separately. While it seems odd, we can 100% see value in the service as a whole. Our butler was accessible at any hour, it seemed, despite his work hours being only during normal 9-5 hours. We would message him requests here and there, sometimes late at night, and were always met with a friendly response. This is a stark contrast to what we’ve come to expect from most “butler services” in this price range at other Caribbean hotels. My one note around the butler service would be to ensure you understand all the benefits going in so you can take advantage of them during your stay.
There are a large selection of dining options available at the Hilton La Romana across the two properties. It’s important to note that children will not be able to access the adults-only restaurants, but adults can access all restaurants. We did have the opportunity to try a number of their outlets:
Noor – Adults Side
Noor is their Mediterranean style cuisine in the evenings and it is the Club Level a la carté available for breakfast and lunch. For breakfast, they serve standard options such as pancakes, waffles, omelets, bagels with lox, breakfast burritos and more. For lunch, they serve sandwiches, pastas, salads and similar “American” style options. We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch at Noor and felt the presentation of the food was better than The Grill. We did not go to Noor for breakfast, however, due to the location. We preferred breakfast at the Grill thanks to the oceanfront location.
The Grill – Family Side
The Grill serves Seafood and American-style grilled food for dinner and it is the Club Level a la carté restaurant available for breakfast and lunch on the family side. The location is superb, sitting right on the edge of the water, making it the perfect breakfast spot. It was worth the additional noise from families as a couple for this reason. They offer the same exact menu as Noor for breakfast and for lunch.
The Grill is also where all the romantic dinners are held. There are a number of more private nooks and crannies around the restaurant that enable guests to dine with incredible sunset views. We had a romantic dinner on one of these perches with a stunning sunset view and outdoor living room setup. The food was excellent. We had the choice of two items for each course and we tested our all of them. We thoroughly enjoyed the steak, salmon, calamari and ceviche.
Mare Grill – Adults Side
Mare Grill is situated on the adults side and features delicious seafood. We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner here, with a spectacular sunset view.
Sakura – Adults Side
Sakura is the Japanese restaurant on the adults side. They do also offer a hibachi experience, which looked like a blast! We did get to sample a few different items and I’d really like to go back to explore the menu at our leisure because we absolutely loved the sushi and would have liked to try a few more rolls as well as the hibachi experience. One thing to note is that there is no outdoor dining at Sakura so our recommendation is to go to Sakura after sunset hours so you don’t miss out on the perfect sunsets on property.
Pizzeria – Family Side
There is a pizza restaurant on the family side that is open for lunch that services a small selection of pizza. We really enjoyed the pepperoni pizza and could have done without the ham pizza. They were not the most interesting pizzas in the world – but if you’re looking a quite bite, I’d say this is a great option.
There are also cafes in both lobbies that service delicious espresso beverages, frappes and iced drinks. The sweets were ok – I preferred the croissants at the Grill.
Room service is also available on the property. Club Level guests do not have to pay a delivery fee, while standard guests pay a $5 fee for each delivery (whether you order 1 dish or 10, it’s the same). The room service during COVID-19 arrives in to-go style containers.
Between the two Hilton La Romana properties, guests really do have access to everything they need for the perfect beach vacation and more. Combine that with the pristine, flat bay that allows for water sports any time of day and you’ve got it all.
We really enjoyed the fact that the Club Level featured separate massive pool areas that did not feel like an afterthought, but rather, a planned and well executed feature on property. The Club lounge on the adults side was built from the ground up during the renovation and provides adults with a stylish, relaxing place to rest, work, drink and enjoy. The family side does feature a club lounge, but it has not been upgraded to the same stylish level as the adults side. That being said, they told us it was because families don’t spend much time in the club lounge overall. The Club Level also features separate beach areas for Club guests, with the adults only club side being the farther away from action and noise. Guests looking to be more secluded and alone will find a lot of peace and quiet on the Adults Club pool and beach section.
The Spa was also not updated, however, we did enjoy our massage down in the pagoda on the beach and would highly recommend the service. The prices were reasonable and the massage quality was very good. We did not spend much time in the spa otherwise, as it was a bit dated and set back on the property.
We mentioned this previously, but the property is very large so it has many little nooks and crannies to explore. One facility we thought was really a wonderful add-on is the “Romantic Corner”. Guests can book this romantic corner for $75 per person (or $250 per couple with a catered lunch) and it allows you to be able to spend the whole day in a private corner of the property overlooking the ocean with a private pool. This is a great option, particularly if you have a butler, because you can order bottles of house wine, sparkling wine, beer and food to your spot.
There is also a waterpark on property – a great perk for families. They also have a large kids club and teen club area. There are dozens of activities guests of all ages can take part in, including work out classes, morning yoga, water aerobics in the bay and more. They have nightly entertainment, typically on the family side auditorium as well as a musician in the adults lobby.
Overall, we enjoyed that guests have the chance to as bored, or as active, as they want.
The renovation that brought the Hilton La Romana to life was tastefully done with beautiful decor, modern and chic amenities and a true feeling of belonging in its location. Due to the older nature of the property, the flora, gardens and even the flamingos add an incredible touch of “jungle”, making the property feeling much smaller than it actually is. The trees are taller than the three story buildings, making this feel much more like a boutique property than the massive 768-room hotel that it is. We were constantly in awe, admiring the beautiful decor in the lobby, rooms and restaurants. We truly enjoyed the style and appreciate the attention to detail the designers had when developing the property post-renovation.
Overall, we would 100% recommend this property. If available to you, the club level + butler experience take the vacation to the next level. However, even just as a standard guest, we truly feel that this Hilton La Romana is one of the areas best kept secrets. The Bayahibe bay with its calm waters, spectacular sunsets and the excellent service from staff make this a true winner.
COVID-19 Safety Rating: 4.5/5
The Playa Resorts brand plus Hilton’s CleanStay policies are exceptional. From social distancing at restaurants, staffs visible precautions in front of guests and the fact that occupancy is capped at 70% maximum make this a very safe place to stay. Masks are required in all public areas for guests and staff alike and for the most part, guests did a great job. Housekeeping was excellent and we always love the “seal” of cleanliness of the guest room door, indicating the room has been disinfected and verified prior to your arrival.
We also love the fact that both PCR and Antigen tests are covered by the hotel, enabling guests to have a stress free vacation without needing to leave the property to get tested. The added insurance for $29 is also a great option for nervous travelers. The feeling of relief many guests have knowing that in the worst case, they are fully covered for the duration of their stay and quarantine is truly something that can make or break your vacation.
Overall, we felt incredibly safe, comfortable and relaxed throughout or stay and never felt that the COVID precautions were taken lightly. We can 100% recommend this property as a great option for any guest who may be anxious taking their first trip during the pandemic.
Disclaimer: We were hosted by Playa Resorts on a media stay. Please know the opinions expressed are all our own and may not reflect the hotel’s own views.