Gran Bahía Príncipe Cayo Levantado, Cayo Levantado island (off the Samaná peninsula) $$$$
Concierge.com's insider take:
The opening of an international airport and a soon-to-be-completed highway is transforming the Samaná peninsula from a ragtag whale-watching region to the Dominican Republic's latest hotspot. Leading the charge is Cayo Levantado, the crown jewel of Bahía Príncipe Resorts' nine all-inclusives. A modern take on a Victorian seaside manse, the sprawling 195-room resort feels more like a town than a hotel, so much so that you won't even know the rest of the island is there. A boat speeds you from the mainland to the island, where guests can choose between rooms with four-poster king beds, and modern rattan and wicker furniture or larger suites—many with terraces and both indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis—housed in villas throughout the property. The resort's private beach is not as huge as the island's public beach (popular with day trippers), but it is plenty serene with stretches of sand tucked into coves of placid waters. Especially impressive are the resort's two creatively landscaped pools, part forest, part open-bar party spot, surrounded by palapa umbrellas to shade you from the sun. Best of all, service has that rare balance of professionalism and fun. There's just one big letdown: the sit-down restaurants—one seafood, one Mediterranean, and one “gourmet,” which they take to mean French—seem to be having teething problems with both service and quality. Luckily, the main buffet in the central building is first rate, shifting daily from Italian to Spanish to Asian to local “Creole” cuisine.