Less a makeover than a reconceptualization, renovations at Bahia Principe Luxury Esmeralda have left this family-friendly Punta Cana property with a whole new image to the fullest extent. Inspiration was taken at the most local level; in a celebration of, and commitment to preserving, history and heritage, the culture of the indigenous Taino people—its traces indelible parts of Dominican tradition—gave heart to the changes, remodeling the guest experience as thoroughly as the resort itself.
Eight months and $35 million went into transforming this Bavaro Beach all-inclusive mainstay. The December 1, 2023 reopening saw the introduction of the “Taino Soul,” a brand-new venture for Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts. Honoring the Dominican Republic’s Taino roots first and foremost with its design, Bahia Principe Luxury Esmeralda has taken elements of the culture and incorporated them into communal spaces.
It begins in the home. For the Taino, it was the cacique, where the chief resided; at the resort, it’s the lobby, the symbolic hearth that welcomes all guests. A walk across the grounds opens up into shared entertainment spaces subtly referencing the traditional houses of the nataínos—nobles and warriors—and on to the outdoor venues and theater, influenced by the tranquility bohiques (priests and healers) brought to their people. Both the adults pool and kids water park are among the updated spots, having been redesigned in the spirit of the new concept.
Across the property, find nods to batú, an ancient sport, in the stone furnishings and rough-hewn textures. Vibrant native blooms pop throughout the resort—a reminder of the island’s natural beauty that deserves our respect.
Refreshing, tropical comfort is the new look each of the rooms and suites offers, informed by subtle touches that speak to the Taino Soul. All room categories have been updated, and their amenities enhanced, to provide more comfortable stays than ever.
But the improvements don’t end there. An entirely new category, the Junior Suite Deluxe Swim-Up, is now available to book. Up to four occupants can enjoy direct pool access, Guest Experience services on request, and 24-hour room service from these junior suites.
Channeling the influence of the naborías, the fisher, farmer, and artisan class of the Taino, Bahia Principe Luxury Esmeralda’s six existing restaurants have all been refreshed. A new à la carte restaurant, El Taino, embraces the concept at a core level. Soft, natural aesthetics allow colorful indigenous ingredients to pop, including:
- Fried yucca, banana, and sweet potato
- Plantain “canoes” stuffed with slow-cooked beef
- Sancocho stew topped with yucca cream and avocado
- Roasted octopus smothered in red cilantro mojo sauce
- Pork confit topped with roasted celeriac and a cornmeal crisp
- Coffee-scented three-coconut-milk cake, a play on tres leches
Also making its first appearance, Yurta, named after the circular huts of Taino nomads, showcases pre-Colombian cuisine fused with Mongolian flavors. Although meat is the star of the menu, grilled vegetables and pasta and rice dishes ensure everyone can find a satisfying bite to eat.
Try to plan your dinners in advance; both restaurants require reservations—and are worth the effort!
Make your stay in Punta Cana a true vacation—add some tours to see the sights!