Hilton La Romana Dominican Republic Review
Ready for an escape from the snowy and icy Midwest, and armed with 3 expiring Hilton free night certificates, I found some last-minute award availability at the Hilton La Romana All-Inclusive Family Resort. Considering I booked this only 11 days out during peak spring / mid winter break season, it was a pretty good find.
Hilton La Romana Overview & Pricing
Standard rooms at the Hilton La Romana go for 80,000 Hilton Honors points per night. I booked five nights for the total cost of 3 free night certificates and 160,000 Hilton Honors points. Keep in mind that while the fifth night is free when booking Hilton award stays with points, you do not get a discount when combining it with free night certificates. That same room would have cost $2,633 for five nights.
This hotel is located in the La Romana municipality, which is about a 55-minute drive from the Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) and about 1:20 from Santo Domingo International Airport (SDQ).
You can either rent a car at the airport or book a private transfer. The resort has a partnership with Transekur, a third-party service that offers flat rates for transfers to/from PUJ and SDQ. At the time of writing, the flat rates for transfers to or from PUJ and/or SDQ airports booked via the resort are:
- Luxury SUV, up to 6 passengers: $186 each way
- Small SUV, up to 2 passengers: $130 each way
- Minivan, up to 5 passengers: $137 each way
- Sprinter Van, up to 16 passengers: $284 each way
- Bus, up to 54 passengers: $333 each way
Since car rentals were similarly priced, we opted to book the transfer with the hotel. As a bonus, the hotel processed the payment, which triggered the $250 resort credit on the Amex Hilton Honors Aspire card, wiping almost the full cost of transportation. If you do opt to rent a car, parking is free for everyone.
Hilton La Romana Dominican Republic Review – Lobby & Check-In Experience
Prior to arrival, I checked my Hilton app and saw we had already been upgraded to a Premium Club room.
The front desk staff were very friendly and welcoming. They brought a nice fruit drink in a champagne flute while we checked in. The check-in experience was mostly fine, but because of Hilton’s archaic reservation system not allowing points reservations to be combined with free night certificate reservations, they fumbled a little thinking we were only there for three nights instead of five. It also took 3 requests for a crib to finally get one delivered. As a Hilton Diamond member, you are also supposed to get a private check-in at the Premium Club Lounge, which for some reason we weren’t offered. We were the only people checking in at the time, so there was no wait anyways.
The lobby is pretty large, with the hotel check-in desk on the left as you arrive. On the right, there are staff from the Playa Collection, which owns this hotel and several others in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Jamaica. Similar to time share properties, the reps will find and pester you to attend a presentation to join their rewards program until you either do it or tell them to buzz off.
Being a maximizer, I eventually did attend, told them I travel mostly using points and miles, and the rep said “well I can’t do better than free,” so they gave me a $100 property credit + coupon book. Not a hard sell and worth the 30 minutes. There are also desks for their in-house professional photographer and excursions. Continuing through the lobby, there is a coffee shop, bar, and lots of seating. It opens up to the main pool with a nice backdrop of the Caribbean Sea.
Hilton La Romana Premium Club Garden View First Floor Walkout
We were proactively upgraded to a Premium Club Garden View room with two queen beds. It’s labeled as “garden view,” but it in fact does have a decent sea view from the patio in addition to a pool view. It’s the same as the base level except for being located in the premium section of the hotel, which gave us access to the premium club lounge, premium pool, and premium beach.
The bathroom was fairly large with both rainfall and handheld shower heads. Plenty of storage space in the closets to unpack and put our suitcases away. A long bench under the TV served well as a diaper changing station. Beds were pretty comfy but not amazing, and we had a small table for breakfast or snacks. We were on the first floor, which is the best level in my opinion, because the door opens up to the patio. Higher-level rooms have balconies, but they are about half the size of the first-floor walkout patios. Being able to sit outside when we put the kids down without having to sneak through the room to go get drinks or snacks was a huge benefit of the first-floor walkout. A one-bedroom suite would certainly have been nice, but this was definitely the next best thing. The other room type option was for a swim-out, which we were offered to upgrade to for a fee, but we declined.
Hilton La Romana Dominican Republic Review – Food & Drink
For breakfast, you can head to the main buffet (and walk past a group of live flamingos!), which offers the most options. Plenty of fresh fruits, juices, breads, pastries, breakfast meats, cooked-to-order eggs, pancakes, waffles, and there is even a crepe station. The food was just ok – about what you’d expect from a huge buffet. The other options for breakfast are room service (extra charge for standard rooms but free for Premium Club), or The Grill Restaurant (open only for Premium Club guests during breakfast and lunch). This was my favorite, because the outdoor seating area was right next to the water, the service was great, it was never busy, and it was just such a relaxing and chill vibe.
For lunch, you can grab a burger or hot dog from the beach grill, pizza from the main pool area, or head to the buffet. Room service is an option as well as The Grill for Premium Club guests.
For dinner, you can dine in the buffet, get room service, or dine in any of the sit-down restaurants.
- Ausangate is the Peruvian restaurant located right next to the main buffet. It was a nice vibe with an open concept kitchen and great service. The Octopus Ceviche and Shrimp Chaufa Rice were delicious, and the soup was pretty good. We ordered grouper for our daughter, and I got the Bluefin Tuna in Black Pepper Crust, which was…interesting. It almost tasted like a pork chop. Not bad, just not what I expected.
- The Grill is open to all guests for dinner. They had basic grill type food like salads, soups, fish and steaks. Good service, good presentation, great atmosphere and view, mediocre food.
- The two other dinner restaurants are Azurri Italian and Moustache (French). Instead of dining “in” any of the restaurants, you can choose to sit on one of the outdoor decks overlooking the beach and water. This option requires you to purchase a bottle of wine. Here, you can order from any of the three dinner restaurants, which is what we opted for. The two best dinner restaurants by far!
- The last food option we splurged on was the “Romantic Dinner” which we booked at the Premium Club desk. I still had my resort credit to burn on my second American Express Hilton Aspire card and thought that would be a nice way to end our trip. The meal is served at a private table on the dock and cost $95 per person (we ordered off the regular menus for the kids). The food took forever between courses, but it was presented nicely. The filet was overcooked and no better than the skirt steak I got at The Grill, and the lobster was just ok. If you want the best dinner experience, grab a table on the deck and buy a bottle of wine and order from Azurri or Moustache.
Hilton La Romana Dominican Republic Review – Amenities
The Hilton La Romana has two beaches, each with their own bar – one for the adults-only side and one for the family side. The family beach includes a grill, where you can get burgers, hot dogs, and nachos during the day. They also serve fresh fruit on the main beach. The Caribbean Sea water is warm and crystal clear, and it was very calm. For those hoping to get some good snorkeling in, the water off the main beach has no reef, and I didn’t see a single fish. However, there is a reef a little outside of the resort I was told had some good snorkeling. Walk into the water off of the Sunset Garden and swim out a bit and you should find it. You will want water shoes for this excursion, as you’ll have to walk over some rocks and potentially some sea urchins.
There are four main pools. One Premium Club pool on the adults side, a larger adults-only pool, the main pool, and a Premium Club pool on the family side. Balinese beds are available for rent in each pool, and they all have their own bar. The main pool area is the largest and busiest. It includes a swim-up bar, hot tub, kids pool, and pizza stand (the fresh pizzas were outstanding).
The water park attached to the hotel has four water slides, a shallow pool for the kids, a lazy river with waterfalls, and a kids splash zone. It’s not the best for really little kids or kids who are afraid of getting splashed, but once my son got comfortable with it, he had a blast. There is also a grill at the water park serving burgers, hot dogs, and chips with guacamole.
Drift Away Spa
Located near the lobby, the spa offers facials, body wraps, aromatherapy, massages, manicures, pedicures, haircuts, hair braiding, and waxing. They even have facial treatments for kids. You can get your massage either in the spa or on the beach for an additional charge. We did not use the spa, but it looked very nice and would be a good way to use your Amex Aspire resort credit.
Kids & Teens Club
The Hilton La Romana offers areas to drop the kids (ages 4-12) off for the day. Dedicated staff have plenty of activities to keep them busy, including arts and crafts, building sandcastles, games, treasure hunts, etc.
The teens club is for kids ages 13-17, which offers a game room, basketball net, TVs with video games, social events, and excursions to the water. There’s a batting cage as well, but I didn’t see anyone using it the time we were there. The outdoor games are open to everyone as well, including ping pong, foosball, and giant connect four.
For $199 per week, you can get butler services for anything you need throughout your stay. This includes direct cell phone contact with your butler from 8am to 8pm, a welcome amenity in the room, an in-room romantic breakfast, daily ice bucket service with drinks and fresh fruits at beach and poolside, and late checkout. This seems like a non-worthwhile extravagance, especially considering how easy it is to get anything yourself at the resort. But hey, if you want to go all out, you do you!
Day in a Private Cabana and Private Pool
For an additional fee, you can rent a waterfront private cabana and pool and have premium drinks, snacks, and lunch brought to you. It’s located near the premium family side on the edge of the water, where it’s rocky with no beach. This one didn’t seem worth it to me, as the pool is tiny and we would have gotten bored. Also, no beach. Still, for couples who want some privacy and a day to lounge in the sun, this might be worth the splurge.
Every night, the resort has a concert or some kind of entertainment on the stage by the main pool. We could hear the music sitting out on the patio but were unable to watch any performances as the kids were in the room sleeping.
Hilton La Romana Dominican Republic Review – Bottom Line
This is a great all-inclusive resort property with very friendly staff, beautiful beaches, plenty of options for activities, and a good use of your free night certificates. The food was pretty good but has some room for improvement.
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