Tortuga Bay, located in an exclusive enclave of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, is paradise, in every sense of the word for its sheer effortlessness and ease. I had never traveled to Punta Cana before, despite visiting The Dominican Republic many times. Why? Because I was always under the impression that the area was synonymous with all-inclusive hotels and travelers who who there to party, and that it might not really represent the authenticity of a destination that I knew inherently had so much to offer. But, I was wrong. Flying-in to Punta Cana couldn’t be easier as the airport is literally a 15-minute drive from Tortuga Bay and some of the other luxury hotels within this resort community. This time I flew from St. Maarten, as I had previously been on the island of St. Barth, so had to land a little further afield, in Santo Domingo, a 1.5 hour drive away.
Getting to Tortuga Bay was easy. The concierge arranged a private transfer, and, in no, time, I found myself entering the gates of Punta Cana and Tortuga Bay - a sanctuary of peace and relaxation. Tortuga Bay was designed by legendary Dominican fashion designer, Oscar de la Renta, as he absolutely loved this area of DR and lived nearby. The 30 rooms on-site are all stylish, exude understated luxury, and offer everything from one bedroom suites, to two-bedroom suites suitable for families. The rooms all have kitchenettes, terraces, ocean views, huge flat screen televisions, and 24-hour room service. The property sits within a stunning 1,500 acre ecological reserve - with the nearby Ojos Indigenas (Indigenous Eyes Ecological Reserve) to explore. When I arrived, I was welcomed and check-in was done right in my suite - the easiest and best way in my opinion.
For me, almost immediately, what struck me about Tortuga Bay was the level of service and attention to detail - layered with personalization.
During my first breakfast this was evident when the staff began to suggest things from the kitchen in the gorgeous poolside dining room. I opted for the Dominican breakfast - a mix of fresh fruit, eggs, sausage, fried cheese, and mangú, which are salty mashed plantains (almost like mashed potatoes, but heartier).
They brought freshly squeezed orange juice, tea, and coffee - and noticed that I usually started with a cappuccino and moved from there to green tea. Each morning after this, without fail, they brought my beverages without being asked and remembered exactly what I had ordered the day before. And, from the moment I walked into the place, every person knew my name. I was impressed.
Tortuga Bay is a place for relaxation and for doing as much or as little as you’d like. The property is owned by Grupo Punta Cana who also manage the Westin and the dining sites within the greater resort. So, upon arrival, you are assigned a golf cart which you can use to tool around and get from golf lesson, to tennis appointment, spa treatment, to beach. I was at Tortuga Bay for two nights, so my agenda was simple - spa and beach. If I had stayed longer, I would have golfed or played tennis, but I felt that taking advantage of the spa was more up my alley. The Six Senses Spa, with no relation to the Six Senses Hotel Group, is a haven of relaxation located right in front of the water. I had one of the best massages I’ve had in a long time here, in a large candle lit room, and was able to relax afterwards with views of the sea.
Most of my time at Tortuga Bay was spent right outside my suite, on the beach. The beach staff are incredibly helpful, fun, and kind - setting up towels and chairs and suggesting menu items to try while your toes are buried in the sand. The ceviche, served in open shells, is divine, as well as the tuna tacos. There are plenty of options for seafood and non-seafood lovers. Cocktails are wonderful, my favorite here being the strawberry daiquiri, but the staff is always happy to whip-up something custom if you are open to it. I did this on a couple of occasions and it paid off with a fresh mango vodka concoction that was heavenly.
While at Tortuga Bay, you can choose to dine in many places. Chilean Chef Cristian Shinya runs the kitchen at Bamboo and La Yola. La Yola is located at the Punta Cana Resort and Marina, right on the ocean, and features Mediterranean fare. Bamboo is by the Tortuga Bay private pool, shrouded in Palms, and offers locally sourced cuisine with some Mediterranean influences. There are other options as well including Brassa, a steakhouse, and my favorite, Bao, which serves phenomenal Pan-Asian cuisine - with items from China, Korea, Japan, and more. You really can’t go wrong with dining here.
If you’re looking for a party, of course you can have someone drive you 20 minutes into Punta Cana’s heart where you’ll find bars, other restaurants, nightclubs, and other spots to see. But, coming back to Tortuga Bay is always the highlight. What works about this place and what makes it truly luxurious is how easy it is here. It’s close to the airport, it’s an easy flight, your name and preferences are remembered from the time you set foot on property, the quality is top notch, and all you have to do, literally, is relax. It’s no wonder some people end up buying a home within the resort itself in one of the many residential communities. I can’t wait to return.