Photo Credit: Cynthia Dial/Tortuga BayYou’ve heard there’s one chance to make a first impression and there’s no where better to illustrate this truism than PUNTACANA Resort & Club’s Tortuga Bay boutique hotel in the Dominican Republic.
Here’s my first impression. Arrival at the airport is the old fashioned way—you disembark the plane by descending stairs onto the tarmac. Upon landing, it is warm (polite terminology for hot) and the line of passengers to get through immigration/passport control is lengthy, spilling onto the tarmac. As one of the last to disembark, I dread the impending wait when I notice an attractive young woman at the base of the stairs holding a sign with my name.
Thus my introduction to Tortuga Bay’s “VIP Whisking Service” begins...whereafter I am swept to the front of the line, through passport control, baggage claim and into a private car where I’m served an icy drink for the five-minute ride to the resort.
Bottom line: Within 20 minutes after rising from my airline seat, I am checking into my hotel home for the next several days. Is this service because I’m a journalist? No. It is because I am a guest of Tortuga Bay.
Luxe perks are not unusual for this resort. Tortuga Bay, PUNTACANA’s luxury boutique hotel, recently received the coveted AAA Five Star Diamond Award (second year running), making it the Dominican Republic’s only hotel and one of only four in the Caribbean to tout this distinction.
I was there to play golf, 45 holes of golf. It’s been said that the idea behind the design of Tom Fazio’s 18-hole Corales Golf Course was to make “every view a postcard.” Picture-perfect it is, including six ocean-front holes, the last three known as El Codo del Diablo, Devil’s Elbow, because they bend toward the sea. And from personal experience I consider its name perfection as I find it almost necessary to make a pact with the devil to play well this trio of holes.
Then there’s the 18-hole La Cana Golf Course, a PB Dye designed course. Top accolades come from Golf Magazine, which compared La Cana to Pebble Beach, declaring it the “number one course in the Caribbean.” And new on the scene is the nine-hole Hacienda Course, another PB Dye creation.
Speaking of the noted golf architect, PB Dye is at breakfast in Bamboo on my first morning of golf, which I’m told is not unusual. His home is nearby and we chat over coffee about golf and his renowned golf-course-designing father Pete Dye. But this sighting is almost considered the norm, as it’s not uncommon to rub elbows with Oscar de la Renta and Julio Iglesias, as well as the Clintons who frequently celebrate the Christmas holidays at PUNTACANA.
Is there more than golf, you might ask? The resort’s marina is the focus of a myriad of water activities. One of our afternoons is spent on a catamaran sailing along the pristine coast, where we anchor near sandbars, spending time on the sea-surrounded white banks of sand, all the while drinking champagne with passengers of other yacht-anchored vessels.
Then there’s the private, eco-chic 1,500-acre ecological reserve. Like a back-in-the-day swimming hole, it’s after a 10-minute trek into the jungle that I’m rewarded with a lush vegetation-surrounded pond, complete with a wooden dock and ladder extending into the water.
Tortuga Bay is the complete package—haute couture, 45 holes of golf, world-renowned spa and celebrity clientele—all wrapped in luxury. And all live up to “my first impression.”
Visit Puntacana.com to learn more.