If you read my previous blog post on the Secrets Hotel in Cap Cana, you know that the Dominican Republic is one of my favorite spots to vacation. I prefer the DR over Mexico. In my opinion, DR beaches are better, and we tend to experience better overall service in the DR than the places we’ve stayed in Mexico (Royal Hideaway Playacar review).
This year we stayed at the Live Aqua Beach Resort Punta Cana (adults only), located in Uvero Alto, which is about 35 minutes West of the Punta Cana airport. In past years, we’ve stayed on Bavaro Beach, the most popular beach for hotels in the area, so we were interested in trying something new.
Over the last decade, many new hotels have been popping up in Ulvero Alto, like Breathless, Nickelodeon, Royalton CHIC, and the Live Aqua Beach Resort, which opened in February of 2021.
We visited the property in February of 2023. Two years after opening, the hotel still looks brand new. The property is beautiful, well-maintained, clean, and serene.
The hotel has 347 rooms with several categories, including junior suites offering swim-up access to private pools. They have seven restaurants: Mexican, French, Italian, Mediterranean, and Japanese, a buffet, and a sports bar.
Facilities include five swimming pools catering to a variety of needs, from partygoers who love loud music to those who like a little peace.
The resort also has a spa, where I received not one but two amazing massages (highly recommend), although it would be nice if they offered beach massages.
Lastly, they had a disco club (which I never went to), a fitness center, and an indoor theater.
We booked a regular garden King room and had one of the closest villas to the ocean. The rooms were modern and reminded me of our stay at the Baha Mar in the Bahamas (review here). Lots of closet space, a spacious shower for two, plenty of counter space in the bathroom, a comfortable bed (with pillow service), and a minibar with a coffee maker and drinks and a tea kettle! As a tea drinker, I usually get hot water from the coffee maker, making my water smell like coffee residue. I loved that they had a separate kettle for boiling water. It’s small details like this that stand out to guests.
The rooms all have a huge tub on the balcony, a fantastic day bed, and a small table with chairs. We spent time out here daily, soaking in the tub and enjoying desserts. Now I don’t want to stay at a hotel that doesn’t have an outdoor tub!
Service is one of the reasons we keep coming back to the DR. The people are wonderful, super friendly, helpful, and always going above and beyond. Our room was always spotless. Front desk requests were quickly handled, and room service was fast.
The beach service was also 10/10. Our drinks came quickly, and the bartenders walked around plenty.
The hotel staff was on top of everything, from the bar staff to housekeeping. The only room for improvement is the service at some of the dinner restaurants took over 2 hours. Besides that, everything else was great.
When booking an all-inclusive resort, usually the food will not be a 10/10; however, the Live Aqua is a solid 7/10. Most of the food we tried was excellent. As mentioned above, the hotel has five specialty restaurants, a buffet, and a sports bar. Although the main buffet was closed for dinner, they had a small outdoor buffet nightly. We stayed for seven days and could have used at least one additional specialty restaurant. The restaurant selection was great, but for the first time I’ve ever seen, the menus were all in Spanish, so thank you, Google translate.
Our favorite restaurant was the French. The food was so good! Their bread, French onion soup, and beef bourguignon were up there with non-resort restaurants. The service was spotty at the specialty restaurants, with the French having the best service.
After Covid, many of these all-inclusive resorts have limited buffets availability. What we have experienced over the last 2-3 years is that most resorts only have the buffet open for breakfast, which was the case for Live Aqua. However, we found out that midweek they open the buffet for lunch Wednesday through, I’m guessing, Saturday.
The buffet was one of the most impressive buffets I’ve seen at an all-inclusive, and I’ve been to at least a dozen (if not more). The breakfast options included crepes, multiple egg stations, a breakfast nacho station, a smoothie bar, and many other options. After a few days, the cook remembered my order at the nacho station and would start making it as I approached him. They had so many delicious options; I was honestly floored! The service at the buffet was also top-notch. The waitstaff remembered us and always served us tea, coffee, and water to our liking.
For lunch, the hotel has two restaurants near the beach and a small pool pop-up grill every few days where they had some quick eats. Both restaurants were easy and quick, and the food was excellent. We never tried the pool grill because they didn’t allow food on the beach.
Towards the last leg of our trip, the buffet opened, as I mentioned for lunch, and again the selection was incredible—lots of pizzas. There are many options for making salads, a seafood station, where you can get freshly cooked shrimp and other crustaceans, and a station where the chef grilled meats right in front of you. I typically avoid the dessert options at buffets; however, they had so many great options! They even had chocolate-covered strawberries. I can’t sing the buffet enough praises. Overall, if you’re looking for an all-inclusive with great food options, Live Aqua is a fantastic choice.
The beach on this side of the Island is similar to Bavaro; however, the sand is darker. The water is clear, and we saw zero seaweed or rocks the entire week we were here. The only downside during our stay was the strong wind and the tide, so the flag was always red. Some days the waves were pretty powerful. We swam every day, but know that getting in is a bit wavy, or at least it was the week we were here.
The beach is split into two sides, the general population and those that paid for premium VIP service. We sat on the VIP side, which was less crowded and had a separate Bar. We had excellent service and never had any issues getting loungers. On both sides of the beach, they had many shade huts, a huge plus for my husband, who doesn’t like being out in the sun long. We wandered down the beach and saw several different hotels that did not have beach huts.
While the beach at Live Aqua is great, I still prefer the beach on the Cap Cana side of the Island. It’s much calmer, wider, and crystal-sugar white sand. Also, the hotel itself did not offer water activities. They had some stations a short walk from the hotel on the beach, though.
We typically don’t spend much time at the pool, but for a few days, we had crazy winds at the beach, so we had no choice. The main pool closest to the beach is the party pool. They blasted loud music all day, and it was pretty crowded, I’m assuming due to the swim-up bar. If party pools are not your cup of tea, no problem; the hotel has four different pools that are extremely quiet. In fact, very serene and not crowded. We never had a problem getting loungers, even in the middle of the day. Fresh towels were always available at the beach and pool.
Overall, we enjoyed our stay at the Live Aqua Beach Resort in Punta Cana. I recommend booking a visit here!