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Are you planning on a trip to the Dominican Republic with kids and wondering what the best all inclusive resort in Punta Cana is? For years, our daughter has been asking to go to the Nickelodeon Resort in Punta Cana. But living on the West Coast, it was such a process of getting to the Dominican Republic that we never really planned it, especially since we aren’t fans of all inclusive resorts normally. But we recently moved to FL and now it’s a short 2.5 hour flight, making it easy to go for a few days. They have since opened a second location in the Cancun area, but we have not visited that one.
We traveled in September, which can be hurricane season, but we had awesome sunny weather during our entire stay. If you’re wondering if this is the best family all inclusive in Punta Cana and the Dominican Republic, read on for a detailed review of the Nickelodeon Resort Punta Cana and find out whether your next family vacation should be to this Punta Cana kid friendly all inclusive resort.
Things to know when visiting the Nickelodeon Resort
- The gift shop is super expensive. Like it makes Disney look like a bargain! A small plush toy was $60 USD, yes you read that right. Buy your own Spongebob plush for less than $10 on Amazon before coming so your kids aren’t bugging you to pay these absurd prices.
- Don’t forget essentials like quality sunscreen, baby wipes, really any toiletries. The sunscreen (awful quality) was $35 for a tiny bottle in the gift shop.
- Double and triple check any reservations you have made. I had an email from the concierge confirming our date and time and assuring me that we had a reservation. It was nowhere to be found when we arrived and we had to switch to another day. This was something we heard from others as well, don’t trust their concierge, even in writing.
- Bring your own pool floats for the pool. There isn’t any seating inside the pool like many resort pools have so you’re either just standing in the water or you can float around on a tube.
Where is the Nickelodeon Resort located?
The Nickelodeon Resort is about 35 minutes from the PUJ airport. While they don’t offer free airport shuttles, they work with a company called BRX that operates from inside the hotel and they offer shuttle service to the hotel. We only needed their services one way (pickup from the airport) since we were switching hotels halfway through and it was $80 for 3 people for a private transfer.
When you first arrive, you will be given a green slime slushie that tastes like pina colada as a welcome drink. We actually were not greeted at all and after seeing the multiple families after us receiving this, we had to ask so our daughter can try it.
Which room should I book at the Nickelodeon Resort?
We used points from our Chase Sapphire Reserve to book this hotel and chose the Nest swim up suite at the Nickelodeon Resort. Other cards that will earn you UR points that you can redeem for travel, including this resort are the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Flex/Freedom Unlimited, if you don’t need the benefits and high annual fee of the CSR.
Our room opened up to a nice deck with comfortable seating, including a daybed and lounges and a nice private pool where we can hang out when we didn’t feel like being around people. We spent every evening swimming in our own private area. The room itself was nice and spacious. We had a king bed and sleeper sofa for our daughter, but I will say it’s not the most comfortable sleeper sofa. It’s hard to believe this hotel is only 6 years old, as it’s already showing signs of age.
There was never anyone at the pool in their swim up room so it felt like we had the entire place to ourselves. The rate for this room during our stay was $650/night and to be honest, I don’t think it is worth that price tag but we used points and we loved it. If you have points to use, I would stay here but I would never pay their out of pocket prices especially given all the all inclusive resorts in this area that are cheaper and better. We came in the off season, there were barely any people here. I imagine this price is a lot higher during peak season.
There was a swim up bar near our room so we had constant access to drinks, which was nice. We enjoyed spending time outside and we were glad to have booked the swim up suite.
Have money to burn? Then book the one and only Pineapple Villa! Rates begin at $3800 per night and you’ll have your own pineapple shaped villa complete with a private pool, 2 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. It was vacant the entire time we were here, which leads me to believe this isn’t booked very often.
They were also advertising day use of the Pineapple Villa for the low price of $1500. But wait! Attend their timeshare presentation and you can save 50%.
Amenities at the Nickelodeon Resort Punta Cana
Since this hotel is marketed to families with young kids, there are lots of family friendly activities throughout the day, a kid’s club and a water park. Be sure to download the Karisma app before your visit as it has daily activity and character sighting times, kid club happenings and restaurant hours. If you want any chance of seeing characters, you will have to make a huge effort to do so as they don’t come out often and are spaced out 1 or more hours apart.
The kids club at the Nickelodeon Resort is located near the water park. We checked out Club Nick just to see what it looks like (see photos below) but didn’t actually utilize their services. They have baby sitting services for kids too young to go to the kids club (they need to be 4 to go). Inside Club Nick is a two story play area with a ball pit, slide and daily art and crafts activities. Club Nick is intended for kids ages 4-12 but I definitely think anyone over 8 won’t have much fun.
Pool at the Nickelodeon Resort Punta Cana
The main pool is right by the beach, and it has a swim up bar. I will say that there is not enough seating if the hotel is busy, and while we visited during the off season and it wasn’t packed, I can’t imagine how it is during times like spring break with so few pool chairs available. It was practically empty during our visit which was really nice!
It’s also super super hot. Their umbrellas are useless and don’t cover the chairs at all. There is no shade to be found anywhere in this area so be sure your kids have rash guards and hats if they get easily burned as you will be in direct sun all day if you come to the pool on a sunny day.
One day, they had paddleboards for kids to use at the pool so we took advantage and my California girl paddled around the pool.
Beach at Nickelodeon Resort Punta Cana
The beach at Nickelodeon Resort Punta Cana isn’t usable. The waves are rough and there is a ton of seaweed. They have tons of seating on the beach, much more than the pool area, but not a single person was ever out there. Definitely don’t come here for the beach!
Aqua Nick Water Park
The water park at Nickelodeon Resort Punta Cana is called Aqua Nick and it’s located across the street from the hotel. You can either take the walkway or a golf cart shuttle that takes you all around the property. There are designated golf cart stops and they are supposed to come every 10 minutes, but there were times we waited much longer or just ended up walking. The water park is more for young kids, I would say under 7. We recently visited the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, FL and my 10 year old said it was much better than this and we agree.
Something I feel like I need to mention about the water park is that the ground is extremely slippery. It is like walking on ice. Person after person kept falling and many people dropped their food and drinks. While it’s common sense that wet ground is going to be slick, this was ridiculously slick and we had to slowly shuffle in order to walk. I felt so bad when an elderly man fell and needed to be helped by several people.
Toddler water park
Next to the baby care center is a small toddler water park area. They have tiny chairs for little ones and a small area for them to play in.
Getting slimed at Nickelodeon Resort
If you plan on getting slimed at the Nickelodeon Resort, be sure to sign up ahead of time as they only do these during designated times. It’s $49/family to get slimed, and my daughter and husband both did it. I was not too keen on getting green dye all over myself so I sat this one out. They loved it!
Character Sightings at the Nickelodeon Resort
Character sightings were not really there, they had very specific times when they came out or you had to pay extra for the character breakfast, which during our visit was $59/person for adults and $43/person for kids. The food is identical to the main free buffet so you are essentially paying to see the characters which I think is what their intent given how rarely they come out. Keep in mind that the two times for the character breakfast have different characters, something many people weren’t told and they weren’t happy to have a Ninja Turtles breakfast when they wanted the one with the Spongebob characters so be sure to ask if you are hoping for certain characters.
The only characters we saw during our stay were from Paw Patrol, not something we were interested in. They were out very briefly during very random times (one super late near 9pm when children who watch this show were probably asleep and the other around 5 near the Zest restaurant).
At night when you walk around, you’ll see this shadow character setup so be sure to stop and try it out!
The Nickelodeon Resort has a nice fitness center if you’re hoping to work out on your trip. There is a fairly large fitness center near the Gourmet Village. You will find many cardio machines and free weights here, really anything you need to complete your workout. My only complaint was that it wasn’t air conditioned during the times I went. They had the door open but when it’s hot and humid outside and you are working out, that didn’t do much so keep that in mind.
Near the fitness center is a small arcade with games. It’s not much but if you have some time to kill, you can bring the kids here to play some games. I’m not sure what the prices were, but I’m going to guess not cheap.
Restaurants at the Nickelodeon Resort Punta Cana
There is no shortage of food at this resort and since it’s an all inclusive, it’s all included in your rate. The only restaurant that required a reservation during our stay was Spacewalker, so be sure to book if you plan on dining here. Everything else was walk in, and since we visited in the off season, there weren’t long waits for anything. I emailed the concierge to make a reservation for Spacewalker, they confirmed via email that it was done and when we arrived, there was no record of it, a common theme here it seems. The concierge had to make a second reservation but the day we had originally booked was no longer available, so we had to go another day. Don’t count on their email concierge to make any reservations, clearly that didn’t go well for us.
If you look at the app or website, all restaurants say the dress code is casual. However several, when we walked up, had signs saying no tank tops for men, no flip flops and long pants required for men. So keep that in mind when packing your outfits as their definition of casual is a bit different. We packed dressier clothes so it wasn’t an issue, but we saw others going to different restaurants after reading the signs.
Sugarcane is the buffet restaurant, where you will come for a breakfast buffet. They are also opened for lunch and dinner and have themed dinners every night (Mexican, Mediterranean, Seafood, etc) but they are best known for their awesome breakfast buffet. We were pleasantly surprised by the amount of food options here, everything from your typical omelets and eggs to a pancake bar and lots of fresh, local fruit.
We stopped in for dessert one evening during their dinner time (it was Asian night) and the food actually looked decent but we didn’t try it since we had just had dinner.
WokWok Far East Fusion
This is the Asian restaurant at the Nickelodeon Resort, we ate here on our first night. I will be honest and say this wasn’t our favorite. The vegetarian Vietnamese rolls were good as were the dumplings, but our entrees were just ok. I had the shrimp pad Thai, which I shared with my daughter and my husband had the kimchee salmon.
The kids menu at WokWok was pretty awful, none of the items were actually Asian. My daughter did not order anything off the kids menu, but here is a photo so you can see what they offer. In fact, this is the kids menu for ALL of the restaurants here. No matter if you’re eating Italian, Asian, etc. the kids will get this awful menu that has nothing to do with the restaurant theme. So needless to say, we didn’t utilize the kids menu at any of the restaurants we went to.
If you want a cocktail, head to VinoVino. This place has a nice lounge feel with a pool table and bar and it’s kid friendly up until 10pm. From 10pm to 1 am, it’s for adults only. We came one day to have some drinks and enjoyed everything we had. Despite the name, they don’t actually have many wines and when I asked to see the wine list, she pulled out two bottles leading me to believe they only have one red and one white to choose from.
Doppio Coffee & Tea
In the mood for some coffee? Then head to this little cafe. They have coffee, tea, smoothies and lots of pastries to choose from. Just don’t try the donuts, I’m not sure what that was but it for sure was not a donut! The texture was super mushy, almost like they soaked it in water before giving it to us. Pro tip: get your kids the strawberry frappe and ask for no added sugar. They will put out a massive container of fresh strawberries and blend it with ice, that’s it! Great healthy snack that my daughter loved.
At the main pool, there is a swim up bar with all sorts of drinks. They have lots of non alcoholic options as well, which is great for kids. If you get out of the pool and walk around to the other side of the bar, you can get ice cream in little cones as well.
By the water park, there is a small walk up restaurant called Aqua Bite. The menu isn’t huge (see photo) but if you want some food or a drink while the kids play at the water park, this is a good option. We tried the burger and chicken sandwich and they weren’t anything special but did the job when our daughter got hungry midday and we were already in this area.
Lighthouse Caribbean Fare
Next to the main pool is one of the few lunch restaurants. Open from 1-4:30, this is a buffet style restaurant that serves similar things found at the breakfast buffet with a few additional lunch options. It’s nothing special but much better than Fresco, which is one of the few other restaurants open for lunch.
Our favorite restaurant at the Nickelodeon Resort was Verdello. This is their Italian restaurant that’s open 6 days a week (no set days) so be sure to check when they are closed to plan accordingly. We started off with appetizers (the eggplant is amazing!) and then pasta and Osso Buco for the main course and everything was delicious. We ate here on our last night but would have probably gone back if we tried it first.
The only restaurant that required reservations during our stay was Spacewalker and I’m honestly not sure why since almost all of the tables were empty when we went, with only 2 other families dining. It’s a space themed restaurant where the staff wears space suits. The food isn’t great, in fact it’s downright awful and bland. But come for the experience and to see the inside but eat elsewhere, which is what we did. We did enjoy the Inner Core dessert and presentation. For $5, you can try the virtual reality game.
Located by building 2 near the swim up bar, this little restaurant is open for lunch. The menu is really odd here, they have bulgogi tacos, Mediterranean food, ceviche, fish and chips and some other random things with no theme in mind. Which is probably why they can’t do anything right. We ordered the bulgogi tacos, ceviche and fish and chips and all were awful. The bulgogi tasted like plain steak, zero taste of bulgogi. The ceviche wasn’t fresh so we didn’t dare eat that and the fish and chips were super chewy, and upon inspection we noticed that the skin was still on under the batter. We ended up just leaving without finishing our meal. There aren’t many lunch place options here, but you will have better luck at one of the lunch buffets.
One of the best things about the Nickelodeon Resort is that you have access to 24 hour room service, which you can order on the tv. There aren’t many options but if you are just hanging out in the room and your kids get hungry, it’s an easy way to order food without having to go out. Our daughter figured out that she can eat any time she wants and placed an order one day when we were hanging in our room pool. The order arrived in about an hour and was hot and fresh.
This burger restaurant is located between WokWok and Spacewalker. There is no sign outside, so it can be a little hard to find. They have several types of burgers but what they are most known for is their 2 lb. machete burger, which we ordered. Yes it’s massive and no we didn’t finish it all (close though!) but if you have 4 or more people in your family, you can probably eat the whole thing.
The resort is great for families however as I mentioned before, I would not pay what they are asking for this place. If you can use points like we did and get a free room, then go for it. But I would not pay $600+ to stay here. This most certainly is not a 5 star resort and certainly not a gourmet dining experience, I’m not sure how they are getting away with these charges.
If you have a credit card that earns points, see if you can redeem them for a stay here. The pool was nice, the beach pretty awful (no one was ever on it, it was covered in seaweed with very rough waves) and the water park was geared more for younger kids. Aside from the random Dora or Spongebob photo, you’d never known you are at a themed hotel so if the theme is something you’re after, you won’t really get that here. We had a lot of fun and really liked our room, but we also didn’t rely on the Nick theme. If you are hoping for a themed hotel, this isn’t the place for you.