Written by Jill Fischer.
I was expecting SpongeBob SquarePants and a fleet of other Nickelodeon characters to greet me and to be bombarded with them wherever I went. I assumed all that would be available to eat would be hot dogs and cheeseburgers. Honestly, I thought I’d hear children screaming everywhere. Nevertheless, I signed up to check out the new Nickelodeon Resort in Punta Cana with a group of other travel agents, courtesy of Delta Vacations. Boy, was I wrong.
What greeted me was a cool towel and a Bellini right as our group entered the lobby. No, it was not because we were a VIP group; all guests are treated like VIPs. No characters in sight yet, and the only evidence to show we were at a Nickelodeon-themed resort was the sign out front and the distinct shade of orange in some of the décor.
Once you pass through the lobby and into the resort area, you find a village area where most of the restaurants, the spa, and gift shop are located. To get a better idea of what I’m talking about, you can click here to view the resort map. You’ll see that they have an additional restaurant closer to the ocean and pool, which is where the character breakfasts are. There’s also a pool bar, which has a patio side and a swim-up side.
Of course, the beach changes based on the tide and seasons, but when I went, it was great for taking a walk on. I wouldn’t say it was particularly swimmable right off the resort’s section of the beach, but you can easily walk up the beach a little bit where there are more swimmers. The resort has a ton of really nice beach loungers and were in the process of building more cabanas when I was there.
As you can also see from the resort map, the waterpark area is a short walk under a bridge. Call a golf cart for a ride if your room is placed in a location where you wouldn’t want to walk that far. That’s where the characters are, the slimings take place, kids’ club, Nickelodeon gift shop, lazy river, and the sports center. They have a restaurant there as well so you don’t have to take too long of a break for lunch. You can also find the characters outside of this area at the character breakfasts, which are only on Saturdays and Sundays. Saturdays have the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and are $17 per kid and $25 per adult. Sundays have more characters and cost a bit more. The group had the opportunity to enjoy a character breakfast while we were there. The service was great and they had a buffet of all the standard continental breakfast items, plus some.
Nickelodeon partnered with Karisma Resorts to create this family-friendly resort to include quality food and service for their guests. Karisma’s “Gourmet Inclusive” concept brings only the finest ingredients, an award-winning wine list, only top shelf liquors, free tequila and wine tastings on select nights, and the attention to detail was incredible. Even the buffet is presented as a “food display” so it’s much more aesthetically-pleasing than your average buffet.
I was very impressed with the quality and selection; it was definitely not your basic all-inclusive resort food. Feel free to read more about Karisma’s Gourmet Inclusive concept here. They even have an adults-only section of the main restaurant, Sugarcane, and an adults-only restaurant, Kitchen 23.
Kitchen 23 requires reservations (after check-in) and there is no menu. They take note of any allergies you may have, and then the chef’s own creativity determines your meal. As of December 2016, the cost for an eight-course meal is $45 per person and 16 courses is $75 per person. The other restaurants that require reservations are Verdello, Wok Wok and Spacewalker. I ate at Spacewalker while I was there, and think it would be perfect for the adventurous kids. The food is pretty basic, but good (shrimp cocktail, etc.) and they present/package the food to look like space food. I didn’t eat dinner here though, only a late snack, so I can’t speak for their entrees. If the dishes you order don’t fill you up, the beauty of an all-inclusive resort is that you can just order more! This restaurant does not cost additional.
Make sure to try a “cremoso” at Doppio, which is a blended iced coffee drink and the Machete Burger at BRGRS.PH, which is a burger made with 2lbs of beef and meant to be shared between a group. No, there is not a prize for finishing it yourself!
Their standard rooms had plenty of space, and all have a large balcony/patio area with plenty of seating. I was impressed with the bathroom, which had enough room for a tub and a whole separate, spacious shower. As a clean freak, I was very happy to see how immaculate every room was that I saw. In the swim-out suites, they have a gate you can secure to your sliding door so you can have a breeze come in and keep your kids safe at the same time.
The Pineapple Villa is the same exact layout as the other villas, but you get the fun Spongebob décor. The villas have a king master suite with private bathroom and outdoor tub and an upstairs kid room with two twin beds and their own bathroom. There is room for two more kids on a pullout in the living area, plus you get your own plunge pool and outdoor lounge area.
The idea of travelling with small children who need extra equipment like a Pack ‘n Play, bottle warmers, step stool, etc. sounds very daunting. What fixes all of that is the fact that this resort has plenty of supplies right at the hotel for you at no additional charge. They even have mini robes for the kids! The resort also offers babysitting services for $20 per babysitter per hour (as of Dec. 2016) and their policy is to have one babysitter per child.
I think it’s important to mention that there is a nightlife scene for the adults. The place does not shut down right after dinner just because it’s supposedly a kid resort. Our spot was at the wine bar, Vino Vino, which had a DJ and dancing until late. Other people in our group went to a free tequila tasting, so, there’s plenty to do! Overall, the Nickelodeon Resort impressed me with their level of service as well as their ability to satisfy all ages.