Basking on the sandy shores of the Samana Peninsula, Sublime Samana hotel is a natural fit for this secluded stretch of the Dominican Republic. What makes this spot truly sublime? The proof is in the details. Twenty modern, spacious suites in white gleam against a backdrop of tropical terrain and turquoise skies. Beyond the private beach, Samana has pro-worthy tennis courts, fine dining, a sumptuous oceanfront spa and a show-stopping swimming pool on its vast, palm fringed grounds.
Check out noon; earliest check-in 3pm (two hour flexibility, subject to availability).
Double rooms from £251.96 ($309), including tax at 28 per cent.
Rates usually include breakfast. An additional guest is $44 per person per night. No extra beds are available per se, but there is a pull-out sofa bed in each room that's most comfortable for children under 12.
There's a fitness centre, where guests can break a sweat during a yoga or pilates class (held twice a week). The hotel also offers access to non-motorised water sports.
At the hotel
Spa, private beach, tennis courts, fitness centre, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: full kitchens, flatscreen TVs with DVD/CD players, bottled water and White Company bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Modern, white-washed suites, all bedecked with tropical touches – shell motifs and pebble floors – all Sublime Samana’s rooms are enticing, but you might consider permanently relocating to the stunning Three-Bedroom Casita. Set beside the garden path to the beach, these spacious suites are topped with sprawling rooftop terraces above the palm trees, with panoramic ocean views and a hot tub for a steamy soak beneath the stars.
Canopied daybeds perch above interconnected waterways that flow into two dramatic swimming pools at the heart of the hotel.
After a few hours sunning poolside, sink deeper still into your relaxed state with a premium pampering at the natural beach spa. Just steps from the shore, indulge in a coconut caressing, soothing sun rub or rejuvenating rain massage in one the three breezy pavilions.
Breezy maxi-dress for her, relaxed linens for him and flip-flops all around. Save room for lightweight hiking shoes to explore the surrounding coconut palm-covered mountains or the ecological reserve.
There’s a two-night minimum stay on weekends (four nights during Holy Week and five over Christmas).
Welcome. There is a bistro menu for kids, but note that one of the pools is adults-only.
The outdoor deck, sheltered by a billowy white canopy, is best on nights with a gentle breeze. Inside, take your place near the floor-to-ceiling windows for a moonlit view.
Keep it beach chic and add tropical pops of colour to play off the mostly white-washed decor. Spray a splash of mosquito repellent as perfume to keep buzzing pests in the jungle where they belong.
Sleek marble floors, dark furniture echoed by the exposed wooded beams, and white tablecloths set an elegant scene in the Bistro Bar and Lounge. Chef Jose Luis Tejeda sources local ingredients – notably ocean fresh fish – for his weekly changing Mediterranean menu. Take lunch at the beachside grill, a casual open-air spot serving ceviche, burgers and the catch of the day prepared as you like it.
Sip mojitos as classic bossa nova drifts from the speakers at the airy Bistro lounge connected to the main restaurant. After 7pm it’s adults-only.
Bistro serves breakfast from 7:30am to 10:30am; lunch from 11am to 6pm and dinner from 6:30pm until 10:30pm. The bar stops serving at 11pm.
Dishes from the Bistro menu can be brought to your room if you fancy breakfast or dinner on your balcony.
Sublime Samana hotel is set on the northeast coast of the Dominican Republic along the 35-mile-long Samana Peninsula, a 90-minute drive from the capital, Santo Domingo.
The closest airport is El Catey International (Samana) about 25 minutes from the hotel. Las Americas International (Santo Domingo) is about two hours from the hotel. Transfers can be organised from El Catey for $80 (per way, per six-person car) and from Las Americas for $200 (per way, per six-person car).
A car is advisable to explore nearby natural areas and the fishing village of Las Terrenas for shopping and dining. Santo Domingo’s airport offers car rentals through most major agencies, including Europcar (www.europcar.com) and Sixt (www.sixt.com). Free parking is available at the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Following a soak in one of the two tranquil pools, a dip in the bath-like Atlantic and a good kneading at the coconut-scented spa, you should feel refreshed enough for a little adventure. Explore lush mountains, protected coves and untouched natural beauty spots by having the hotel arrange a horse ride to the dramatic El Limón waterfall, a snorkelling or sailing trip along the Cabo Samana cliffs or cruise in a speedboat to the ecological reserve Los Haitises National Park, a haven for sea birds and native wildlife.
January to March, witness the magnificent mating dance of massive humpback whales as the make their way to Samana Bay for their annual ritual. Ask the hotel to arrange a whale-watching excursion by boat with a local outfitter.
Gérard Prystasz, a former chef at the French Presidential Palace, has since embraced paradise at the Hotel Atlantis (+1 809 240 61 11) on Playa Bonita, a 15-minute drive from the hotel. He prepares a range of dishes – fresh grilled Dorado, island bouillabaisse – all with a French accent.
Bread is not a staple of Dominican cooking – a mix of Spanish, African and Taino traditions – however, the French have made their mark on Las Terrenes. Stop by La Boulangerie Francaise on Calle Principe in Plaza Taina, for pain au chocolat or a fresh baguette.
Every hotel is visited personally by members of our team and given the Smith seal of approval. As soon as our anonymous reviewers have returned from this boutique hotel in the Dominican Republic and unpacked their Santo Domingo coffee and hand-rolled cigars, a full account of their beach escape will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Sublime Samana hotel…
It’s a real bubble-burster: you go to all that effort to get away from it all, only to discover that you’re sharing a hotel with 300 of your fellow countrymen attempting precisely the same thing. On the seven palm-dotted acres of Sublime Samana, there’s no danger of that – only the locals and the most intrepid travellers have discovered this lush jungle idyll on the Dominican Republic’s northeastern coast. And now you, obviously.
Sapphire skies, wind-sand shores and cerulean sea: you might think nature’s the star of the show in these parts, but she’s sharing top billing with Samana’s own charms. Awash with white, the petite 20-suite resort is chic but not over-showy. Stroll from your private terrace to the courtyard, where canopied day-beds look over a network of waterways flowing into two dramatic swimming pools. Saunter down to the waterfront for a sun-kissed massage at the beach spa. Hop on a horse and discover the jungle. Or just lie by the pool and don’t move for a week. No need to stress yourself.