Recommend August 2014 - (Page 39)

onsitereview A P R I L 2 0 14 PUNTA CANA'S MELIA CARIBE TROPICAL-THE LEVEL One-Bedroom Master Suite at The Level. ed wetschler My rule: It is better to book a standard room in an outstanding resort than to book the best room in a mid-market resort. And I'm always right-except when I'm not. Which brings us to the Melia Caribe Tropical in Bavaro, Dominican Republic. This winter, the Melia, a four-star resort adjacent to a Melia property that's viewed as a five-star (the recently opened Paradisus Palma Real), unveiled a new section called The Level. Not only does The Level offer upgraded accommodations, but it has its own swath of beach, restaurants, pools, and lobbies. Why plural for "lobbies"? Because The Level, accounting for about half the Melia's 1,139 rooms and suites, is further divided into family and adults-only areas, so they each get their own lobby/ lounge. But regardless of which area guests are checking into, bellmen greet them with, "Are you ready for a new Level?" We sure were, but the devil on our shoulder had a question, too, so he whispered in our ear: "At what level would this new Level be?" better than the rest Some of the guest units at this resort used to offer enhanced perks called Royal Service, and it is these lodgings that Melia upgraded for The Level. However, we realized while staying there, The Level is no longer just a bunch of rooms with better services; it's virtually a separate resort. Why? As mentioned, the sense of privilege begins right at a VIP lounge where guests check-in and can also have continental breakfast, premium beverages, hors d'oeuvres, coffee and tea, and complimentary WiFi. The adults-only lounge says it all, sporting urbane black, beige, and white furnishings and sculptures that evoke a hipster's library, but even The Level's family lounge has a certain dignity, albeit with snacks and games (on handsome wooden boards) that delight children. The part of the beach for The Level guests is, admittedly, no whiter or wider than the rest of Bavaro Beach (how could it be?), but the lounges and daybeds are the best. Ditto, the beach butler service. The Level guests have access to Energy for Life activities (e.g. Body Balance, a mix of yoga and tai chi). The Level has its own (huge) swimming pools, one for all Levelers and one for adults only. I saw children playing with their parents in the pool by the Gabi Club, a restaurant and lounge solely for The Level (gotta love that glow-at-night furniture); while couples in the free-form adults-only pool gravitated to its nooks and curves and sipped dangerously good mojitos. Two reasons why The Level's family pool is relatively quiet: Its size, and the fact that The Level's families may put their children in the supervised kids' programs. august 2014 39 39-40 CB MeliaOnsite.indd 39 7/23/14 11:59 AM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recommend August 2014

Editor’s Notes
Hotel Desk Chic & New
Tour Talk FAMs to Latin America & Beyond
Uniworld’s S.S. Catherine
The Dish on Las Vegas
The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club
Lanai, Hawaii
Double the Charm in Cancun
Grand Residences Riviera Cancun
Tour Operators Do the Talking
The Beat Goes on for Thai Tourism
A Love Affair with Puerto Rico & Four Grand Personalities
Punta Cana’s Melia Caribe Tropical—The Level
Sandals LaSource Resort & Spa, Grenada
On the Tracks in France
Antwerp Sparkles Like a Diamond
Southern Africa

Recommend August 2014