On our recent trip to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, I wanted to make sure there would be plenty of activities to keep my kids busy. Unlike some other vacation destinations, there aren’t a lot of off-resort activities in the area suitable for young children. When hubby and I visited Punta Cana on our honeymoon, we went spelunking at Boca del Diablo (The Devil’s Mouth), one of the largest cave systems in the country (which has since been renamed a rather silly sounding Cueva Fun Fun). But at three and five years of age, my girls are too young to go caving, snorkeling, horseback riding, ziplining, parasailing, swimming with dolphins, or any of the other adventure activities nearby.
That’s why it was important to me that there were age-appropriate activities suitable for them at our resort, as well as opportunities for hubby and I to have some time alone. Happily, we stayed at the Grand Palladium Resort Complex in Punta Cana which offers a Kids Club for children 12 months and older, kid-friendly play areas and pool, and daily activities for kids of all ages.
To start with, the resort boasts a newly constructed Castillo del Pirata (Pirate Castle) Kids Club modeled on a colonial fort offering tons of features and activities for kids. Both the Baby Club (1-3 years) and Kids Club (ages 4-12) are located here. It has a generously-sized secure outdoor area with a small soccer area, climbing wall, sand pit, trampoline, mini zip line, and play structure.
Inside is a video game lounge, theatre and full stage where they show movies every afternoon, dress-up closet and make-up room, Hot Wheels room, arts and crafts area, small dining room, and a separate Baby Club area for the littlest ones with age-appropriate toys.
We soon fell into a routine of getting up early for breakfast, heading to the pool to play until lunchtime, then dropping the girls off at the Kids Club for a few hours while hubby and I read and relaxed by the pool. Then we either picked up the girls for dinner, or we went for a romantic dinner alone before picking up the girls and taking them out for their own dinner.
We visited the Grand Palladium during the non-peak season so there weren’t as many kids around as usual. Unfortunately, this meant that some of the Kids Club activities ended up being cancelled at the last minute due to not having enough participants. What a bummer for my girls! Another thing to be aware of is that the Baby Club and Kids Club are two entirely separate programs. With a toddler and a 7-year-old I don’t imagine that would be an issue, but my kids are close enough in age that they wanted to spend their time together. The upside of having fewer kids at the Kids Club though, was that the staff could be more flexible about accommodating the girls to play together, so things worked out in the end.
I’ve heard that every now and then parents and teens like to take a break from each other too! Fortunately, the Grand Palladium also offers the Black & White Junior Club for youth aged 13-19 with a full activity program and separate areas for video games, table games (pool, table tennis, foosball), and computers.
The Kids Club is located right next to the main family pool and pirate ship themed kids pool. That was convenient for us as we spent the majority of our time in either of these two pools. The knee deep kids pool and mini splash pad were perfect for even the youngest toddlers, and with a self-dumping water bucket at the top of the pirate ship mast and three water slides, it was lots of fun for older kids too.
I love all the friendships my girls struck up while at the resort. They played with lots of kids, but they picked one particular girl from Manchester to be their very best friend there. They couldn’t stop talking about her, and Kay still mentions her once in a while. I suspect it started because they saw her wearing Peppa Pig flip flops, and when she said, “Hello!” in her Manchester accent they just fell in love with her. Later on Tee told me she sounded just like Peppa Pig too, so I guess that was what sealed the deal.
Play at Palladium with Raggs
One of the most unique features of the Grand Palladium kids’ program is their cool partnership with the Raggs band. My girls weren’t familiar with the show before we arrived, but they quickly became fans of those rock n’ roll playing dogs Raggs, Razzles, Pido, B. Max, and Trilby. The costumed characters visited the Kids Club on a daily basis, and the resort also offered a special breakfast with Raggs once a week and a party at the disco on Thursday nights.
Of course Tee and Kay attended both of these special events. At the breakfast, all the food was decorated to look like the characters, and Raggs, Trilby, and Pido entertained all of us with a mini concert.
On Thursday night, Pido’s Surf Party brought all the kids out to the disco for an evening of grass skirts, limbo, and dancing with the Raggs gang.
There were lots of pop-up opportunities to see the Raggs characters around the Kids Club and pool, and one day the staff even came out to the pool area and set up this adorable photo opp for all the mermaids. I love this picture!
One last thing I wanted to mention. When we booked our trip the kids were disappointed to find out we’d be missing Halloween at home, but they felt a bit better when the Kids Club staff organized a big Halloween party for all the kids at the resort, including costumes and make-up. The girls loved dressing up, and I thought they looked pretty spooky in their ghost costumes (though Kay insisted on wearing a baker’s hat which sort of reminded me of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man).
Overall, the kids thoroughly enjoyed their first vacation and they keep asking to go back! Find out more about our kid-friendly vacation in Part I, Part III: What to Eat, Part IV: The Pools & Beach, and Part V: Things for Parents to Do of my review.
Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary stay for review. Nevertheless, all opinions expressed are completely honest and my own, based on my personal experience. Your experience may differ.