When it comes to kid-friendly travel to themed resorts, there are lots of things to consider: how to keep kids entertained en route to your destination; how to keep them entertained once you arrive; and will you, as parents, go crazy from too much kid-focused programming? (C’mon, let’s face it: A cartoon explosion can be overwhelming for any fun-loving mom or dad.)
That’s why when I took my two kids on a press trip to the Gourmet Inclusive Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana by Karisma, in the Dominican Republic, I was beyond excited but a little apprehensive that I would be caught in a technicolor dream world of Willy Wonka proportions. I mean, I love SpongeBob, but would he be hanging out in our hotel room?
Thankfully, the answer was no. But also, thankfully (for my kids), SpongeBob, Patrick, the Paw Patrol team (my 5-year-old son’s personal fave) and more Nick characters were available for breakfast and visits by the pool.
Basically, it was a win-win.
When we arrived at the all-inclusive Nickelodeon Resort, the first international property by Nickelodeon and Karisma Hotels & Resorts, my son, 11-year-old daughter and I were greeted with cups of green “slime” (a citrusy beverage to get us in the tropical mood). While it was a clever and tasty nod to the kid-friendly brand, which my kids loved, I was more taken by the immaculate green grounds and the plush lobby décor—a gorgeously designed oasis right on Uvero Alto beach.
I was even more impressed once we made our way to our resort suite. We walked through a quaint village of white stucco and red brick buildings, lined with palm trees and resort restaurants, including the Asian-themed Wok Wok (pictured above), the futuristic Spacewalker, the lavish Vino Vino and the family-friendly Sugarcane. There's even Doppio, a coffee shop to rival Starbucks, where you can walk up to the counter and grab a doughnut while ordering an iced latte.
Before we entered our suite, just above a wrap-around pool, I wondered again if we would be bombarded with Dora the Explorer sheets or Fairly Oddparent pillows. However, the suite was tastefully designed with luxe bedding and amenities, including a large tub and expansive balcony, with fun hints of the Nickelodeon-themed colors of oranges and greens.
But, of course, this visit wasn’t all for me (although it really could have been). We also had a fun kid-tastic few days planned, complete with a character-themed breakfast at the poolside Zest restaurant, complete with dancing SpongeBob and friends alongside local resort entertainers.
The kids were also excited about the resort’s biggest attraction—the amazing Aqua Nick water park (pictured at top), which features water slides, splash pads and a big bucket of slime that’s poured onto guests every afternoon.
Not only that, but you can request your own personal sliming (for an additional fee)! The kids won’t forget that anytime soon.
Families can stay at the water park all day if they want, taking breaks to grab snacks or drinks at the Aqua Bite snack bar or checking out the Nick Knacks gift shop.
If parents want some time for themselves, they can even drop off the kiddos at Just Kidding, a clubhouse for children ages 4-12 that boasts a two-story slide, ball pit, video games and more. Also, don’t be surprised if you see the Paw Patrol crew or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles outside making appearances for photo opps or live performances.
At night, families can return for bubble parties, where the music is pumped up, the colorful lights are on and the lazy river is filled with massive mountains of bubbles. Staff entertainers are also on hand to give out prizes to eager kiddos.
While there is entertainment and dining for everyone (not to mention the luxurious Vassa spa), you might want to hang out on the gorgeous beach that’s just steps away from the resort’s infinity pool and swim-up bar. The water was calm and warm, and it was nice to sink your toes into the sand and take in a little bit of island life.
Walking around and exploring the resort, I found myself feeling so relaxed, despite being the solo parent on the trip. The amenities catered to grown-ups while giving the kids more than they could ever have imagined. We felt taken care of, for sure.
Despite appreciating Nickelodeon’s design subtleties, I have to admit I found myself eyeing the SpongeBob Pineapple suite, which was basically its own Nick-themed house. With a mix of cute SpongeBob Squarepants décor and nautical-themed items, it was true Nickelodeon luxury, complete with a private pool and outdoor shower and tub. I could get on board for that!
So, parents, you don’t need to shy away from kid-themed resorts—at least, not when it comes to Nickelodeon's resort in the Dominican Republic. Trust me, kids won’t want to leave. And you might not want to, either!
(Disclosure: Mom.me attended a press trip to the Nickelodeon Resort in the Dominican Republic organized by Nickelodeon and Karisma Hotels & Resorts. All reporting and opinions are our own.)