I didn't realize how much I needed a getaway until I traveled with 30 Macaroni KID publishers to Meliá Caribe Beach in early August for our annual Macaroni KID Boondoggle. Our 2021 trip brought us together for four beautiful days in the Dominican Republic sun. My soul soaked up every single minute.
Here are 10 reasons why you should join us in planning a getaway to the all-inclusive, family-friendly Meliá Caribe Beach in Punta Cana to rejuvenate your soul:
1. The resort staff made us feel special, at home, and safe
Some members of the 900-person staff called us "familia" and we felt like it — they were always quick with a smile and even a joke, and always attentive and quick to please. We thoroughly enjoyed "The Level," which is Meliá's exclusive and personalized service where every detail has been designed to make your stay a dream. From the entertainers to the waitstaff, it felt like the people at Meliá Caribe Beach enjoyed their jobs, each other, and us — and that made us feel so much more at ease and at home ourselves.
The service and entertainment at Meliá Caribe Beach were top notch.
We also felt relatively insulated from the pandemic here. The staff wore masks at all times and are vaccinated and tested regularly for COVID. Resort guests are asked to take precautions as well (such as wearing plastic gloves while in the buffet stations) and everyone seemed respectful of each other and the circumstances. I felt safer than I do at my neighborhood grocery store!
2. The beautiful pools
Meliá Caribe Beach
I always worry that the pictures I see of a resort won't live up to the actual experience. I mean, that shade of blue doesn't really exist, does it? I can tell you that it does at Meliá Caribe Beach! The enormous turquoise lagoon-style pools meander across the resort property, a large oasis of that gorgeous blue that I couldn't wait to sink into. There are both kid-friendly pools and adults-only pools so large you will want to go exploring to see all of it.
Though once we found the lounge chairs carved into the pool's edge ... well, we were done exploring. Especially after a wonderful staff member brought us icy drinks poolside. Picture perfect.
Publishers Kara Ault, the Macaroni KID Fayetteville, Ark. publisher, and Jenna Slade, the Macaroni KID Saugerties, N.Y. publisher, enjoy a drink at one of the six pools at Meliá Caribe Beach.
3. The amazing entertainment
When I arrived, acrobats were on silk aerials in the beautiful open lobby — not something I'd ever seen before. That was not the last time I'd experience entertainment brand new to me while at Meliá Caribe Beach.
Outdoors Family Photo
Publishers Kristin Kindred, publisher of Macaroni KID Aurora, Colo., and Tammy Gnagy, publisher of Macaroni KID Louisville, Ky., dance it up at silent disco night at Meliá Caribe Beach.
The resort produced amazing one-of-a-kind experiences again and again in just the four days we were there. Highlights: A poolside party complete with hundreds of colorful balloons strewn about the pool, flamingo floats, really fun dancers and men on stilts; a silent disco (I didn't know what that was either: Each person gets headphones and everyone listens to music together while singing and dancing along... turns out it's ridiculously fun and silly); and nighty entertainment on the stage, ranging from family-friendly movies to thrilling dance shows and performances.
Outdoors Photo Family
Entertainers from stilt walkers to fire dancers thrilled our publishers during their stay.
4. We didn't have to think about meals
Parents know: A four-day break from slathering peanut butter on bread might not seem like much, but when you've been home with kids as much as we all have during the pandemic — let's just say it was bliss not to be asked for a snack. Or to make a box of macaroni and cheese. Or to have to load the dishwasher. Again.
Instead, this all-inclusive resort includes 13 restaurants, including Mediterranean, Mexican, Asian, and Spanish themes. They made every meal I experienced there SPECTACULAR and EASY — from edible breakfast displays to buffets to candlelit dinners to gorgeous drinks and beachside meals ... and I didn’t have to open a jar of peanut butter once. This mama’s dream vacation.
5. Time on the Caribbean Sea
Sink your toes into that warm golden sugar sand, breathe in that Caribbean Sea air, and you can feel the weight of the last year and a half just lift off your shoulders. The resort's Bávaro Beach is warm, calm, and Caribbean blue — making it a great swimming beach for families.
Outdoors Photo Family
Go for the ultimate getting-away-from-it-all moment by leaning back in one of the resort's luxurious oceanside beds and soaking in the view. Unforgettable. We were incredibly lucky to have a dinner right on the beach our first night in Punta Cana, complete with dancers in traditional Dominican Republic garb. Talk about a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Outdoors Photo Family
Our publishers were surprised with a beautiful dinner on the beach their first night in Punta Cana.
See more from our 2021 Macaroni KID Boondoggle!
Our publishers took so many amazing pictures on our beautiful Punta Cana trip and we couldn't include them all here! Search #MKatMeliaCaribeBeach to see more of the images from our wonderful time at Meliá Caribe Beach!
6. Learning about another country
Traveling internationally is always a wonderful eye-opening educational experience, and this was no exception. One of the great experiences we had: Spending an hour with representatives from the Chocolate Experience DR. They talked us through the entire chocolate-making process and even let us try cacao seeds straight from a cacao pod. We learned that the Dominican Republic is the largest producer of organic sustainable cacao in the world, making about 70,000 tons of high-grade, organic, fine-flavor cacao for export each year. Before leaving we had the chance to make our own chocolate bars to take home as a delicious memento of the experience.
Through Meliá Caribe Beach, we were also able to sign-up for an off-resort excursion with Bebe Catamarans. We spent a happy morning in the Caribbean snorkeling on a nearby reef spotting sea urchins, getting out of the way of silvery needlefish, and pointing out pufferfish swimming about. The staff onboard brought the party — leading dances and keeping our cups full. Plus: A water slide!
7. The amazing resort experiences
We had never seen aqua bikes before and couldn't wait to give a class at Meliá Caribe Beach a try! That was just the start of the fun activities available. There's also yoga, aqua zumba, water volleyball, and dance classes. Some of us also indulged at the full-service YHI Spa where we were pampered to our hearts' content.
Plus: The resort animals! I live in Pennsylvania, so seeing turkeys wandering about isn't that uncommon. But peacocks and flamingos? It was a thrill each time to see these colorful birds wandering the resort property. We even stumbled on one peacock with his feathers fully extended giving a show to a potential partner nearby. Day. Made.
Peacocks wander the grounds at-will on Meliá Caribe Beach, thrilling guests of all ages.
8. The family-friendly vibe
As Macaroni KID publishers, we're always on the lookout for kid-centered fun. Meliá Caribe Beach is the ultimate in family fun, with a water park complete with slides, waterfalls, and a splash pad and a supervised kids program for kids as young as 8 months.
The Kids Zone, meanwhile, features billiards and ping-pong tables and activities all day long.
The resort restaurants also have plenty of kid-friendly options, like a waffle bar, a donut display, and even a cotton candy machine. Want a truly unique experience? Ask the resort about planning a picnic lunch, just for your family.
We also appreciated the attention to detail in rooms for children (like the stepstools under the sinks so smaller kids can reach. So thoughtful!) You can tell the newly renovated and spacious rooms at the resort were clearly built with families in mind — there are suites, along with rooms that include hideaway beds and sleeper sofas. Some even include private gardens, where kids can play or lounge on an outdoor bed just steps away and within sight of their parents.
Newly renovated rooms & suites very spacious and bright, equipped with every kind of detail to ensure maximum comfort plus beautiful garden or pool views. Their elegant design also blends in perfectly with the Caribbean environment.
9. The wonderful people of the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic depends on tourism more than any other country in the Latin American region so the pandemic has been difficult, to say the least. The Meliá Caribe Beach's general manager thanked us on our first night for coming to Punta Cana and helping to support the 900 Dominican Republic families that depend on the resort for income. It's something you might not think about when making reservations, but something that really makes a difference to the people here.
We felt good about bringing our tourism dollars to this country, whether it was shopping at a local outdoor market for trinkets to take home to our kids or shopping at the resort itself.
A worker at the Chocolate Experience waits for visitors at Meliá Caribe Beach.
10. The chance to reconnect
I didn't realize how much I had missed in-person meetups with my Macaroni KID family. We talk frequently on the phone, on Facebook, and by text, but seeing their faces in person, having that chance to talk, share, and laugh until we cried ... I've missed that more than I realized.
Meliá Caribe Beach allowed us to reconnect in a happy bubble that has left us all feeling like we were floating on air long after we arrived back home. The staff of Meliá Caribe Beach made that possible, and I will always be grateful for their kindness and joyful spirits. That feeling and those memories are something each of us can carry with us — until the next time.
Outdoors Family Photo
Special thanks to Alliance Connection for planning our 2021 Macaroni KID Boondoggle. We appreciate the partnership and friendship your team has so warmly offered our company and publishers over the years.
Macaroni KID publishers were hosted at Meliá Caribe Beach for purposes of a review.