Recommend August 2016 - 20

onsitereview RIU Republica, Punta Cana Michelle Marie Arean a spacious shower complete with a peek-aboo frosted window to the bedroom that can add a little spice for couples. Michelle MArie AreAn Off-Property Excursions Decor in the accommodations plays off the surroundings. It's only been about a month since its opening date and already the RIU Republica is booked at about 90 percent occupancy. In fact, it's been at about 90 percent since the first week. "We were a little surprised by it," says Armin Kaestner, v.p. of sales and contracting for RIU Hotels & Resorts. He adds that after trying to figure out what was causing the high rate, the answer came during a recent flight. "I noticed on a flight back to Miami that most of the passengers were young couples," says Kaestner. Who is making up this high number of occupancies? Well, about 40 percent of the guests are from the U.S. and the target age range is 25-50. After spending an afternoon by the "fun" pool on property, I can vouch for that age group. Guests ranged between 30-50 and many were taking part in pool activities such as a water aerobics class that turned out to be surprisingly fun-more than half the pool was filled with guests participating and it was followed up with a water polo session. A few feet away, the swim-up bar offered the perfect spot for an after workout beverage (read: cocktail) of choice and socializing. It's all about the rewards on vacation, isn't it? 20 august 2016 Property Perks This 1,007-guestroom, adults-only property offers plenty of opportunity for fun in the sun, including lounging by the pool or beach. Those who prefer the turquoise waters and sounds of waves crashing against the shoreline can unwind at one of 200 beachside palapas. But the on-property perks don't end there-there's a fitness center; the Renova Spa, featuring complimentary access to the steam bath and jacuzzi; a sports bar with games (in addition to four more bars); four restaurants; nonmotorized watersports; and live shows and music. There's also a Wednesday night poolside foam party, and an onsite nightclub, Pacha. I had the opportunity to test out the Renova Spa during a 25-minute treatment, and can vouch that your clients won't be disappointed. If I walked out in a state of bliss after just 25 minutes, I'm sure a recommended 60- or 90-minute session will have your clients feeling as if they're walking on clouds. Guestrooms feature modern decor with splashes of turquoise amidst a sea of white. Bathrooms are large with a double vanity and Recommend clients take a day trip with ScubaCaribe to enjoy the Dominican Republic's water-based offerings. The excursion I took part in stopped at Altos de Chavon-a re-creation of a Mediterraneanstyle European village located atop the Chavon River in La Romana-where I took in the beauty of the buildings, churches, and the theater that accommodates about 5,000. An art school, affiliated with Parsons in New York, is located on site, which means the locale's small art galleries are filled with interesting pieces. Afterwards, we took a boat ride along the river and then hopped on a catamaran to go snorkeling. The waters in these parts are home to a stunning display of sea life, including an appearance by Dory, as well as needle fish, sea urchins and other underwater creatures. Then it was back on the catamaran for a ride to Catalina Island where we had a beachside lunch prepped by locals, and wiled the afternoon away on the private island. Tour rates start at $125 pp. Another don't-miss activity is a chocolatemaking lesson ($15 pp) at the sister property, RIU Palace Macao. Here, we learned the history of the cocoa bean, and its significance to the island-it's one of the country's four largest export businesses. We tasted a few sweet treats infused with the cocoa bean such as tea, the local drink Mama Juana, chocolate milk, and chocolate. Then, we put our skills to the test as we crunched the cocoa beans, and made our own chocolate bar concoction by adding coconut, almonds, M&Ms or sriracha. Now back to that high occupancy. Another answer to those filled rooms could be the rate. The introduction rates start at approximately $90 pp per night; in November that price goes up to about $99, and after New Year's it'll be at about $165, according to Kaestner. ■ Contact Information RIU Republica: http://www.riu.com/en/Paises/dominicanrepublic/punta-cana/hotel-riu-republica/ ScubaCaribe: scubacaribe.com recommend.com http://www.riu.com/en/Paises/dominican-republic/punta-cana/hotel-riu-republica/ http://www.riu.com/en/Paises/dominican-republic/punta-cana/hotel-riu-republica/ http://www.scubacaribe.com http://www.recommend.com

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