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Dominican Republic

 Wellness-inclusive Luxury at
Melia Punta Cana Beach Resort

 by Jennifer Merrick

This January, resolutions still fresh in my mind, I was delighted to check out the brand-new ‘wellness-inclusive’ initiative at the adults-only Melia Punta Cana Beach in the Dominican Republic.

“This program is like our baby,” said Oliver Bothfeld, hotel manager. “We really wanted to do something different.”

The first difference was that we checked in not at the front desk, but at the spa. Not just any spa, either, but the lush and serene YHI SPA filled with tropical plants and water features with turtles lazily basking on rocks. Our tight, winter-weary muscles unknotted a little, as we sipped Tropical Moringa Herbal Tea and filled in our information. Once done, we were given our wellness bracelets, which, unlike the plastic, hospital-like bands that I associated with all-inclusive resorts, was a black-stringed piece of jewellery with a larimar stone. Found only in the Dominican Republic, this blue gemstone’s energy supposedly resonated peace and clarity. Though skeptical about the cosmic power of gems, there was no doubt of the peacefulness that descended upon us at this spa. We reluctantly left, but knew we’d be back. Did I mention wellness-inclusive covered a massage a day and full access to the spa waters?

“Hasta manana, YHI SPA,” I whispered under my breath.

Our wellness suites had a menu of ‘stay well’ features that included: air purification, aromatherapy, circadian task lighting, guided meditation, stay well shower infuser, dawn simulation and a Deepak Chopra welcome. Meal options ranged from healthy pressed green juices delivered to your room to indulgent multi-course meals at the property’s many restaurants. And, of course, all sorts of libations as wellness-inclusive also meant all-inclusive.

“It’s all about choice,” Bothfeld commented.

We chose to skip the 7AM Run for Fun on the Energy for Life itinerary and instead biked around the resort. The grounds were beautifully landscaped with tropical flower gardens and wildlife, like the flamingos whose reflection shimmered pinks and corals in the water. Several times during our stay, we strolled along Bavaro Beach. Recognized by UNESCO, this stretch of sand was as gorgeous as they come with postcard perfect wind-swept palms, white sands and turquoise water.

We might not have kept all our resolutions, but we started the new decade in the right direction. Now every time I wear my larimar stone bracelet, I’m transported back to the Melia Punta Cana Beach Resort and start to breathe a little deeper.