Two family-friendly resorts were on our bucket list to help us escape the cold, Midwest winters. With the help of our AAA Travel Advisor, we were able to enjoy both of them seamlessly. Along with our 4-year-old daughter, my husband and I realized that it was time to start planning our family vacation to Punta Cana as the cold air invaded our hometown. The cold temperatures we were escaping made us further appreciate our stays at the Nickelodeon Resort Punta Cana and the Margaritaville Island Reserve Cap Cana. Our family quickly found that each resort offers a unique experience, vibe, and amenities to appeal to families.
Sophie poses with her father at the Nickelodeon Resort
NICKELODEON RESORT PUNTA CANA
Stepping inside Nickelodeon's colorful lobby, guests are greeted with a welcome drink and green slime smoothies for the kids. As you check in, consider making reservations for restaurants and Character Breakfast experiences, as lines can get long and reservations fill quickly. Once check-in is complete, a butler whisks your family and luggage away to your temporary home away from home.
Luxurious bedding at the Nickelodeon Resort
Nickelodeon Resort offers a variety of luxury accommodations for couples and families, including swim-up suites and overnighting in SpongeBob's Pineapple Villa. Our swim-up suite was spacious and contemporary, with fun, playful touches that our daughter enjoyed. It was a treat to take a dip in the pool off our balcony whenever we wished, without having to pack a beach bag.
Another thing you won’t need to pack while visiting the Nickelodeon Resort is baby gear. The resort offers complimentary, all-inclusive toddler amenities such as cribs, strollers, bottle warmers, high chairs, and gourmet baby food.
There are plenty of family-friendly restaurants at the Nickelodeon Resort
There is always a spot to grab a delicious bite to eat with the family with twelve restaurants on property, from the intergalactic cuisine at Spacewalker Restaurant to the monstrous Machete Burger at BRGRS.PH—there is something for everyone and every craving.
Though known for its kid-friendly amenities, the Nickelodeon Resort is equally a retreat for adults. Premium cocktails, gourmet dining experiences, and a top-notch kids club are just a few ways adults, too, can escape, unwind, and enjoy some solitude. My husband and I recommend making a reservation at Kitchen 23, getting a relaxing massage at Vassa Spa, and enjoying a glass of wine at Vino. Parents can enjoy these amenities while the kids are experiencing exciting events such as Ninja Training at Club Nick.
Aqua Nick was the highlight of the resort
Families can splish, splash, and laugh while cooling off at Nickelodeon's premier water park, Aqua Nick. Aqua Nick was one of the primary reasons for adding this resort to our itinerary, and we are so glad we did! While my preference is to float leisurely in the lazy river, my daughter found the nose shower hysterical. Once we pried her away from this Nick staple, she enjoyed water slides, splash stations, and the enormous overflowing bucket that soaks everyone below.
Arrive early to Aqua Nick to secure a lounger by one of the many pools. Are you feeling peckish? Swing by Aqua Bite to grab an awesome, freshly-grilled burger, fruit, and drinks! While Aqua Nick offers tons of family fun, don’t forget to spend time on the beautiful sandy beaches.
Another important tip: Aqua Nick is about a ten-minute walk from other resort accommodations. Golf carts transport guests back and forth throughout the day, but you could choose to walk and enjoy the grounds. Consider your travel time when venturing to the Orange Carpet event, during which Aqua Nick is transformed into a glamorous dinner party.
Be sure to do a private Slime Time at the Nickelodeon Resort
Awesome Nickelodeon Experiences
In true Nickelodeon form, the Orange Carpet event makes every guest feel like a celebrity. Walk the orange carpet, sip on slime smoothies, then sit back to enjoy a fabulous show featuring all your favorite characters. Arrive early as tables for the buffet dinner are on a first-come, first-served basis. Come for the show, stay for the slime mohawks!
Characters make their appearance throughout the resort often. Still, a sure-fire way to see them is to splurge on a Character Breakfast, an event that gives each family dedicated time with the characters to ensure you get that picture-perfect vacation photo. A terrific breakfast buffet accompanies the Character PJ Party with plenty of music and dancing. Insider tip: Go to the 8:00AM Character Breakfast—the ideal way to start your day, and it concludes just as Aqua Nick is opening for the day.
Participate in the ultimate Nickelodeon experience at Aqua Nick by reserving a private family slime time. Hands-down, this was my daughter's favorite memory of our entire trip. Aqua Nick also has 'mass slimings' daily for even more slime fun.
After two slime-filled days, we were off to our next resort, Margaritaville Island Reserve in Cap Cana. Our pre-booked transfer made the transition from resort to resort a breeze.
Margaritaville Island Reserva Cap Cana
MARGARITAVILLE ISLAND RESERVE CAP CANA
It’s always five o'clock in Margaritaville! All of your worries will seem to melt away the moment you step foot into this Parrot-Head paradise. Icy margarita pops greet guests upon arrival, popular Jimmy Buffet songs drift throughout the lobby—all setting the stage for your fabulous all-inclusive getaway.
The picturesque resort offers a variety of family-friendly amenities while also catering to parents and other sun-seekers in need of solace from the stresses of everyday life. Lounge by the splash area, relax in the hammocks, then spend a sunny afternoon at the beach. Exceptional hospitality makes every visitor, big or small, feel as if they are the only guest at the resort.
My daughter felt like she was queen for the day as she lounged in her kid-size lounger and enjoyed her fruit smoothie next to the children's pool. Additionally, the Parakeets Kid's Club gives adults a chance to explore the resort while their children are thoroughly entertained.
Take time to taste over 60 rums at Rum Runners, snag a freshly brewed beer at Landshark, and retreat to your suite for a well-deserved nap.
Turquoise decor make the room feel luxurious
Luxurious suites offer guests all the comforts of home paired with magnificent views of the Caribbean Sea. Relax in the soaking tub, craft your own cocktail from the complimentary in-room spirits, and then place a room service order to enjoy a meal on your spacious balcony. A variety of suite options to accommodate all types of travelers are available, including the spacious Son of a Sailor suite and Swim-up suites. A highlight of the Son of a Sailor suite is the dining room area, which gave our family a dedicated spot to enjoy snacks and meals.
Refined culinary experiences at Margaritaville Island Reserve Cap Cana
Taste The Difference
Dining takes center stage at Margaritaville with a focus on refined culinary experiences. The dining experience does not disappoint at this all-inclusive resort, with exquisite meals, top-shelf cocktails, and premium dishes. Each restaurant has a dedicated head chef creating signature dishes, from mouth-watering arancini at Frank & Lola’s to traditional Dominican Sancocho soup at Rum Runners.
Though the restaurants are inspired by Jimmy Buffett, my daughter created her own concept by savoring a juicy, grilled cheeseburger in paradise. Whatever your craving, Margaritaville has a restaurant to help you satisfy it.
A cherished memory of this trip was picking up little, sweet treats at Joe Merchant’s Coffee & Provisions. With so many tempting options, we left with a plate full of decadent confections to enjoy while listening to live music during each visit.
Stephanie and her daughter pose poolside
Floating tacos were the ultimate bucket-list experience for me as a taco fanatic. Cold margaritas, gourmet tacos, and dips are great anywhere, but in a pool? It’s next level. The floating tacos are available in many quantities and varieties. Get plenty for the whole family and a few of your new Margaritaville friends!
Start your day in paradise with a spectacular sunrise breakfast. While getting up early on vacation may not seem appealing, watching the sky come ablaze as the sun slowly climbs over the sea is remarkable. Sip on a warm cappuccino, enjoy delicious pastries, and indulge in a hearty breakfast while taking in the breathtaking views from the rooftop. Breathe deep and enjoy this unique view of paradise. If you are traveling with kids, chances are they are early risers, making this an ideal family vacation moment.
Take Time For You
Rest and self-care are very important as they replenish our spirit. Take time to schedule a signature spa treatment at the tranquil Somewhere Spa. Relax with a Swedish massage or enjoy the hydrotherapy spa. Come back from your vacation feeling refreshed, renewed, and rejuvenated.
Book An Excursion
The staff at Margaritaville are happy to assist in booking exciting excursions around the island. I highly recommend booking excursions prior to arriving, as many places require reservations.
One all-day excursion that I highly recommend is Scape Park. From the majestic wonder of the Hoyo Azul to the thrilling flight of ziplining across a lush tropical jungle, Scape Park in Punta Cana provides guests with spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Bring along water shoes, sunscreen, and bug spray to make sure you enjoy your time!
The family enjoys a perfect balcony breakfast
PACK YOUR BAGS
Our all-inclusive stay truly covered everything, including scheduled and performed COVID-19 testing at the resort to fulfill return-to-home travel requirements. There's no 'reset' like a tropical escape, especially if visiting from colder climates. The laid-back vibes and palm-lined beaches make it easy to forget about real life for a moment while in the tropical paradise that is Punta Cana.
All photo courtesy Stephanie Taleghani