If you’re looking to exchange vows in an exotic location that’s picture postcard pretty, with sand that’s akin to finely milled velvet, hospitable locals and a sun-drenched climate, then the Dominican Republic, which occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola that is shared with Haiti, is more than worthy of a place on your shortlist.
Located on the east coast, Punta Cana is renowned for its world-class golf resorts and championship golf courses. Over 5.9 million passengers pass through Punta Cana International Airport each year, making it the busiest airport in the Dominican Republic and second busiest airport in the Caribbean.
Elegant yet understated, with the kind of ocean-front location that one literally dreams about when planning the ultimate Caribbean getaway, the Westin Puntacana Resort and Club is the perfect base for both the Big Day and your wedding party.
While just a few minutes drive from the airport, there’s no droning air traffic noise, simply the sound of the waves lapping at possibly the whitest sand you’ll ever set foot on.
On resort, the facilities span 26 square miles and are quite simply first-class: 200 ocean view rooms and suites, two championship golf courses, water sports a-plenty, a world class spa, and award-winning cuisine.
If you’re the kind of couple that likes to keep things fairly low-key (if rather indulgent), you’ll be glad to know that the hotel has its own private beach – Playa Blanca. And don’t worry about being shoehorned onto a bijou stretch of sand, as there’s an abundance of space in which to kick back and relax, both here and around the hotel’s enticing pool, a few steps away.
When it comes to the ceremony, there’s plenty of choice – have it on the beach, at the chic La Cana Golf & Beach Club with interiors designed by Oscar de la Renta, or the beautiful Nuestra Señora de Punta Cana, a coral stone built church. No matter how big your party, they can accommodate, with up to 3,155 square feet of reception space.
Catholic civil ceremonies at Puntacana Resort & Cub are performed in Spanish, however an English translator may be requested.
To make things stress-free, check in with the resort’s wedding co-ordinator, who will work with you to create a day that complements your style and taste, with a distinctive Caribbean twist.
But before you take the plunge, it would be rude not to take advantage of the facilities at your fingertips; the Resort is the only location in the Americas to feature the world-renowned Six Senses Spa, and it really is a jewel in the crown, having received ‘Leading Spa’ distinctions from The Leading Hotels of the World.
The interior is inspired by the Asian aesthetic, with the scent of aromatherapy oils, cushioned day beds, dark wood and metal gongs setting the scene. And once you’ve drunk in the naturally beautiful position directly on the beach, the therapists will ensure you’re as zen-like as you deserve to be before things step up a gear.
The holistic treatments are based on Asian philosophy; try the Sensory Spa Journey with two therapists performing a facial and body massage at the same time, a ready made package or a couples massage in one of the indoor or outdoor treatment areas, surrounded by herb gardens and tropical plants.
Back in the real world, men can hit the 18-hole golf course at Corales by Tom Fazio or La Cana, or spend time deep sea fishing for the local Blue Marlin, off the eastern shore of the Dominican Republic.
Get hitched in March, and you and your guests will also be able to experience the famous Punta Cana Festival, which lights up the streets with a riot of colour and sound, and is an amazing visual treat for all ages.
Designed to promote the art and folklore of the Dominican culture to the thousands of tourists who visit Punta Cana each year, the Carnival is held on the second Saturday of March each year, and features troupes from around the country and other Caribbean islands.
The resort also makes for an idyllic honeymoon destination, especially if privacy is high on your wishlist. While we were there, the three-mile long Playa Blanca beach was gloriously uncrowded, making it the dream tropical destination, complete with swaying palm trees and calm, azure sea.
Honeymoon packages are available in premium or suite accommodation, and typically include breakfast, and sparking wine, chocolates and a rose petal turndown on arrival. Additional touches, depending on which package you opt for, include a private romantic sunset cruise with a bottle of champagne for the all-essential toast, and a couples signature spa massage.
In fact, the only downside of this exclusive, yet understated Caribbean destination is the fact that you won’t want to leave.
For more information, visit puntacana.com British Airways now flies direct to Punta Cana, with two flights a week from London Gatwick.