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Well Traveled: A Flavorful Getaway to Playa Grande, Dominican Republic

The northern region of the island nation that’s home to Amanera Resort is a favorite stop for Dallas restaurateur Miriam Jimenez.
By | |Photography courtesy of Amanera Resort
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Book Lovers: The resort’s Casa Grande features a fully stocked library among other amenities.
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Well Traveled: A Flavorful Getaway to Playa Grande, Dominican Republic

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It was dark when I arrived at Amanera Resort in the Dominican Republic, but the beauty of the location and the hospitality of its people shone through. I was welcomed to one of the property’s 25 casitas with a pot of Dominican Tea, a flavorful blend of passion fruit, green apple, lemongrass, ginger, mint leaves, and local honey used to boost the immune system and enhance relaxation. As I sipped, I looked out at the private pool and patio outside my casita—an area where I spent a great deal of time immersed in the sounds of nearby ocean waves.

Situated on the north side of the country near tourist destinations Puerto Plata and Playa Grande, Amanera Resort boasts a secluded beach, cliff-side infinity pool, fully stocked library, and elevated dining. Each casita is designed to showcase the serenity of the outdoors from every angle, designed by architect John Heah of Heah & Co.

We started the first day with the resort’s Jungle Breakfast experience. Staff guided us through a hike up nearby hills, offering local fauna facts while carrying my pre-ordered breakfast items. Pro tip: bring a towel because the Caribbean humidity is no joke. Once we reached the top, a pavilion with scenic beach views provided the perfect setting for a morning coffee, fruit plate, lox bagel, and yogurt parfait.

After a luxurious meal, we returned to the property for a salsa and taco-making class led by one of the resort’s chefs. We made guacamole, green salsa, and red salsa from scratch, then pork, shrimp, and fish tacos while the chef coached us on prepping, cooking, and blending our creations. When we were finished, we enjoyed a well-earned pairing and sipped on a cocktail beachside before heading to the Bay View Casa.

The resort’s only two-bedroom accomodation, owned by hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, can be rented out for private dinners and events. It was perfect for our barbecue dinner, prepared by a master Peruvian chef. We feasted on lobster and grilled octopus before sharing a tomahawk steak. We washed it down with Morir Soñando (meaning to die dreaming), a creamy mix of milk, citrus juice, and rum.

I then made a trip to the resort’s spa. I chose to indulge in the Waxing Moon treatment, 120 minutes of bliss that begins with a foot soak and massage, then moves through a coffee, rosemary, and black pepper exfoliating scrub. A coconut wrap envelops the skin, while a head pressure point massage relieves stress. Finally, cocoa butter is massaged into the skin to relieve muscle pain.

After I was ready to get moving again, I went to the resort’s Beach Club for its Dominican night, which showcases traditional Dominican BBQ (local fish and meats) and musicians. Before my night ended, I made sure to try the Mamajuana, local spices, tree barks, and indigenous roots steeped in Dominican rum, red wine, and honey. This unique beverage was used medicinally by the ancient Taino natives who inhabited the island; trust me, it will sneak up on you, but only in the best way—wrapping you in its strong flavor and the spirit of Dominican culture.  

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Miriam Jimenez hails from Santo Domingo, but Puerto Plata is her go-to destination up north. “There is more local presence in Puerto Plata,” says Jimenez, owner of Miriam’s Cocina Latina, a Dominican-inspired restaurant near Klyde Warren Park. “The region has great restaurants and beaches.” Sámana is another town she recommends. There, beachgoers can see many types of snails, especially after the early low tides that go out around 6 p.m. In February, whales visit to have their young. For Dominican dishes, Jimenez recommends Sancocho, a stew of meat and root vegetables. “It can be 100 degrees in the Dominican Republic, and we are going to have Sancocho,” she says. “It’s a very hot soup, but we love it.”

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