With its costumed characters and fairy tale castle, Bahia Principe Fantasia in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, feels Disneyland-esque with the Atlantic Ocean as the draw instead of high-tech rides. But, like the amusement park, Fantasia isn’t just for families with young kids. In fact, I’d recommend it for anyone of any age looking for surf, sun and fun.
The Bahia Principe Fantasia Complex
Fantasia is one of seven hotels on the Bahia Principe’s Punta Cana property. Three family-friendly options, including one with a water park, make up the core of the property. On either side are luxury hotels: two that are adults only and two that are family friendly. Fantasia, the property’s premier hotel, is family-friendly with luxurious accommodations.
Staying at Fantasia—even if you don’t have kids—has its advantages. Each of the seven hotels has its own swimming pool, restaurants, entertainment and gift shops, and depending on where you stay, you have access to only certain areas. (If you stay in one of the core hotels, for example, you can’t escape the kids and hang out at the adults-only hotel.)
Fantasia is the exception. Guests at Fantasia have access to ALL the pools and restaurants throughout the property with the exception of the individual hotels’ buffets. (Every buffet is the same, however.) Plus, guests from the other hotels can’t take advantage of Fantasia’s pools, restaurants or amenities. Only Fantasia guests can swim in the ginormous pool surrounding the fairy tale castle or visit the kid-friendly spa at the hotel.
Bahia Principe Fantasia—Luxury in Punta Cana
Once I understood the perks, I was glad to have a room at Fantasia. It was quieter than I expected, and I appreciated the refrigerator stocked with complimentary water, soda, beer, potato chips and airline-sized bottles of alcohol, something you don’t get in other areas of the complex.
I was impressed, too, with how spacious my accommodations were, especially the bathroom, which had a separate shower and bathtub. There was also enough space for two queen beds, a narrow desk, a couch and a table with chairs. On the balcony, a small sitting area was the perfect place to watch swimmers in the pool below. (None of the Fantasia rooms have ocean views.)
The room did have a few quirks worth mentioning. First, I’m admittedly spoiled by the single-serving, pod-style coffeemakers found in most American hotel rooms, but the pot coffeemaker in my Fantasia room seemed outdated to me. Not to mention, I stubbed my toe several times on the raised floor of the closet. Most notably, though, all but one of the outlets in my room was the two-prong, European style.
(The others in my group all had outlets with both European and American plug options throughout, and our host was surprised to hear I could only find one three-prong plug in my room. She assured me the front desk could provide converters to anyone who needed them.)
The Bahia Principe Fantasia Restaurants
During my stay at the Bahia Principe property, I dined only at Fantasia restaurants, which for breakfast meant the Larimar Buffet. The buffet had the typical all-inclusive staples—pastries, fresh fruit, hot dishes, and an omelet station—plus a great juice and smoothie bar.
Both times I had lunch on property, I ate at the Beach Restaurant. I have to admit, though, if I hadn’t already been on the beach that second day, I would have opted for Larimar instead—the food at the Beach Restaurant just wasn’t that good.
Dinner at Il Paradiso, Garden Circus and Le Gourmet was much better. Meals began with a welcome drink and trip to the appetizer buffet. At some point, the evening was pleasantly interrupted by entertainers who burst into the restaurant. The actual entrées were hit and miss. For me, the big hit was the flavorful and perfectly-seared rib eye at Garden Circus.
Complimentary alcohol is one of the perks of an all-inclusive, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Mama Juana, a local spirit made from red wine, honey and rum steeped in a bottle of leaves, bark, and herbals. Almost every Dominican family has its own recipe, but generally, it tastes like mulled wine with a kick. You should definitely ask to sample some during your stay.
The Beach, Spa and Activities at Bahia Principe Fantasia
Most guests come for the beach. If you’re one of them, you won’t be disappointed. Although the Fantasia is about a 10-minute walk (or short tram ride) from the water, it’s worth the trek to the soft sand. I didn’t have any trouble finding a lounge chair either afternoon I went down.
There’s plenty to do besides lounge poolside or at the beach, though. One of my favorites was the Chocolate Experience ($20) at the Chocolate & Cia shop off the Bavaro lobby. There, my group learned about the process of making chocolate, made our own bars to take home and sampled several products.
You can also sign up for several excursions ranging from swimming with dolphins to horseback rides through the countryside. At night, you can sing karaoke in the Bahia Principe Village, gamble at the casino, or watch a theatrical production. Guests of Fantasia are treated nightly at 10 p.m. to images projected on the castle—the show is well worth making the effort to see.
One of the highlights of my visit was the Mama Juana Massage at the Bahia Spa, located at Esmeralda, the neighboring Bahia Principe luxury hotel. The oils used in the massage are infused with the same bark, leaves and herbals used in the drink and perfume the room with hints of cinnamon as a skilled therapist works knots out of your muscles.
The Bahia Principe Fantasia Details
Overall, the Bahia Principe property in Punta Cana is one of the best all-inclusive resorts I’ve visited. It was spotless, inside and out, which is remarkable considering I visited days after Hurricane Irma downed trees and ripped off roof tiles. In fact, the staff is so dedicated to keeping the property looking pristine, I noticed one worker applying a fresh coat of white paint to an already glistening and unmarred curb.
The staff is also one of friendliest you’ll encounter. Almost all speak English, and everyone I met seemed to genuinely like their job and want to be there, something that isn’t always the case at a large resort.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations, meals and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.