Kids have amazing memories—they remember the big moments and the small ones. We love taking them on vacation to experience new places and make memories. This year when you are planning your family getaway consider a new destination where sun and sand meet…slime.
Just 30 minutes from the Punta Cana airport, the new Nickelodeon Hotel & Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic is a unique experience meant to delight everyone from the youngest traveler to seasoned resort vets. It is an all-inclusive resort where you are welcomed upon arrival with a glass of slime—for real. Our kids eagerly downed their green drinks (non-alcoholic smoothies) while pointing out all of the cool Nickelodeon features. You have to look for them because the theming isn’t over the top or obvious, just subtle touches here and there (think: a topiary shaped like Spongebob Squarepants).
Nickelodeon Place & AquaNick
A short walk (or golf cart ride) across the street from the main resort is Nickelodeon Place, which is where you will find all the slime you have been dreaming about. The main attraction is AquaNick, a large waterpark built for hours of fun with the whole family. From waterslides and lazy rivers to buckets of slime that may just end up on your head, this is where you go for some kid-friendly fun.
We loved that you don’t need to bring your towel from the main resort (something we learned when we got there!) because there are towels available when you enter the waterpark. There is truly something for everyone at AquaNick. There are pools that are deep enough for strong swimmers to jump and play in, but the same pools also have shallow ledges where you could sit with a younger child and enjoy the water. We saw tons of lounge chairs available, and with serving staff coming around periodically to bring you drinks, mom and dad will get the pampering they deserve.
This is also where you go to find Just Kiddin’, the resort’s kids’ club. Our kids (8-years old) loved spending time here, more than even they thought they would. Why? It’s standout feature: a slide into a ball pit. Our kids loved this, and they also loved running around and meeting new friends from all over the world. There are lots of organized activities and the kids’ club staff are attentive—we popped our heads in while they were decorating cookies and were impressed that the staff had 15 kids seated around a table and completely under control…all with the tempting ball pit just feet away. Overall, Just Kiddin’ is a fantastic spot for giving kids a break from being out in the sun—and parents a break from the kids.
But what is Nickelodeon without slime? If you want slime, Nickelodeon Place is where you find it. You can join one of the daily group slimings that take place every afternoon (check your activity itinerary for when). Kids (and grown-ups) gather underneath the large dunk bucket at AquaNick and after doing a fun song and dance with the resort animation team, then the bucket drops a TON of green water on the eager crowd waiting below. Alternately, you could choose a personal sliming—up to four people can get slimed together. This is an additional cost, but totally worth it for the photo-op alone!
The one negative to Nickelodeon Place is its location across the street from the rest of the resort. They have frequent golf cart transportation to deliver you there and back, and your family could plan to spend the day at the water park (there is also a small-bite restaurant right there to eat lunch at), but this could be a challenge for families with kids who are different ages and who may need to make periodic returns for naps or breaks. It’s only about a five-minute trip—but be sure to take that into consideration when planning your days.
With over 208 suites Nickelodeon Hotel & Resort Punta Cana has options for every budget. The basic room is anything but basic, with lots of space both indoors and on your personal outdoor balcony—which is huge and has enough space for parents to relax on after the kids go to bed, or for kids to hang out on while mom and dad are prepping for the day.
All of the rooms share the same subtle theming that you will find all over the resort (if you’re expecting crazy slime-covered walls, you’ll be disappointed). Expect tone-on-tone murals on the walls, splashes of orange in the accessories, the fun glass etchings on the bathroom wall, and the bright orange signature Nick blimp stools at the foot of the beds.
The large bathroom includes a closet/dressing area, separate tub and shower, double sink and private toilet. Our kids loved the massive tub and had a blast having a soak…and a splash.
Each room includes a mini bar that is stocked daily with snacks and drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and a safe in the closet for you to keep your valuables.
If you want to spend a bit more you could spring for one of the gorgeous swim-up suites that have pools connected to their patios. These are a great option for families with little kids who still need to nap—mom or dad can take them back to the room to rest and still be able to soak up some sun and pool time in their private pool. One of the best features of this type of room is that the sliding glass door features a smaller safety door so that you can have the patio door open and get fresh air and a breeze into your room, but the kids won’t be able to leave the room and get out onto the patio (and to the pool!) unless a parent unlocks the latch. Genius. We love that the safety of guests was front and centre on the minds of the designers of this resort.
If money is no object your family can sleep like Spongebob does—in a pineapple. There is one incredible ‘Pineapple Villa’ that features multiple rooms on two levels, a private pool and an outdoor shower area, plus tons of other Spongebob Squarepants theming. (If the Pineapple Suite isn’t available there are other Villas available that have the same amount of space, just with different exteriors.)
In our opinion one of the greatest parts of going to an all-inclusive resort is that you don’t have to worry about cooking. That’s not to say that there aren’t decisions to be made when it comes to mealtime, but at least you aren’t packing lunches and making dinner!
There are 8 restaurants and 2 bars/lounges at Nickelodeon Hotel & Resort Punta Cana and they are each so beautifully appointed and decorated that you will think that you are visiting the coolest restaurants ever. Our favourite meals were at the burger restaurant, BRGRSPH. They had amazing burgers and milkshakes that were out of this world. And to increase the fun factor, the kitchen is housed in a food truck, inside the restaurant. So cool! The service was a little slow when we were there, which is tough when you have a couple of kids who are starving. Also a bit strange is that they don’t have a kids’ menu at lunchtime, but we were able to improvise and have two kids share one adult burger. Everyone was happy and enjoyed their meals.
Most of the restaurants (except for BRGRSPH) require reservations for dinner, and they do fill up so make sure you take some time and make your reservations when you arrive. You can always eat at Sugarcane buffet marketplace restaurant if you don’t want to commit to a reservation, or try the 24 hour room service to get tasty eats in your room.
However if there is a restaurant that you want to try and are told that there aren’t any reservations available, try walking up to see if they can take you. We did this with Spacewalker, which is a crazy space-themed restaurant and were seated right away. It was a little bit later than the dinner rush, but we were happy that we got the experience of eating there. Definitely check it out if you visit this resort, but be aware that the menu is fixed and a little odd…but most of what we had there was very good.
Nickelodeon Punta Cana prides itself on being a gourmet resort with lots of food options, but there were times when we wished that the food leaned towards the fresh and tasty, rather than the exotic and gourmet. We would have loved to see more kid-friendly options for restaurants and wish that it wasn’t so difficult to get reservations at some of the restaurants. However, that being said, we never went hungry and were always greeted by a pleasant staff member at each of the restaurants who all went above and beyond to make sure our meal was enjoyable.
One of the highlights of going to Nickelodeon Resort Punta Cana is that you have the opportunity to interact with some popular characters. From Dora and Boots to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, there are lots of fun characters your kids will love to meet.
Your weekly itinerary will outline where and when characters are available to meet (usually at Character Central located in Nickelodeon Place), but if you want to make sure your kids get some special one-on-one time we would recommend you book a character breakfast. Your family can enjoy breakfast at Zest, which is one of the beachside restaurants, while in the company of some of their favourite characters. Our girls had a great time hanging with the Paw Patrol squad, Spongebob and more. There is an additional cost for the character breakfasts, but it is a great way for you to make sure your kids get some time with their favourite Nickelodeon friends.
Nickelodeon Hotel & Resort Punta Cana is unlike any resort we have visited before. They seamlessly blend together the zaniness and fun of the Nickelodeon brand with the upscale feel that many adults look for in a vacation destination. We love that there are lots of activities to keep kids entertained and busy and that parents can have adventures of their own knowing their kids are being properly looked after. Being close to the airport is a plus, and we found that the beach and pools had lots of space and never felt crowded. Kids will love meeting their favourite Nickelodeon friends and parents will love the looks of joy on their kids’ faces as they explore the resort.
And you can sleep in a pineapple.