Dominican Republic

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Paradise for every budget

‘I’ve visited a lot of Caribbean islands and the Dominican Republic has some of the best beaches I’ve seen. I also loved the fascinating heritage of African, Spanish and local Taino Indian culture – local people were incredibly warm and happy to share their culture.

While it’s become known for its good-value, all-inclusives, it does luxury well too. One favourite is the peaceful Zoetry Agua Punta Cana, an all-suite oceanfront resort in lush gardens – the seaview suites have gorgeous views over the white-sand beach and azure sea. Their version of all-inclusive is quite different too. They call it Endless Privileges which includes gourmet meals, massages and horseback-riding.

A much larger resort is the 500-suite Paradisus Punta Cana on Bávaro Beach, with eight restaurants and nine bars (my favourite was funky beachfront Gabi Beach). It’s well-organised and the lovely service made it feel far smaller, but for something more intimate, I recommend the Relais & Chateaux Eden Rock on the exclusive Cap Cana Estate, designed by Milan-based architect Marina Nova where suites all have private pools.

My home for a week was the all-inclusive Club Med Punta Cana, on a gorgeous beach and the first Club Med to offer ‘Creactive’, their collaboration with Cirque du Soleil where guests can try trapeze, Acro bungee or Cirque de Soleil make-up. Their adult’s only Zen Oasis is wonderful, with its own pool, adults-only rooms and a quiet beach.

You can also visit the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park, take a boat trip into Los Haitises National Park near Samana, play golf or go kite-surfing, scuba-diving and snorkelling. The food is a delicious blend of Latin American, Taino Indian and European so it’s always worth venturing out to the local restaurants. The Dominican Republic is perfect for fly-and-flop, but you can do so much more too.’

Flight time: 9 hours

Language: English

Capital: Santa Domingo

Currency: Dominican peso

Time difference: GMT -4