Touring the Dominican Republic

This year has been a light year for me for travel when compared to previous years. I became anxious in August to take a trip before I faced a big move. Traveling for me is definitely a de-stressor. I started perusing Groupon and Living Social for last minute deals. I came across a good deal to a hotel in Puerta Plata, DR. After about a day of internet research I was ready to buy. I also started to ask around to see who has been to Puerta Plata. Everyone I talked to replied they have been to Punta Cana. My last resource was a friend whose husband is from DR. He suggested that I would like Punta Cana or Samana better. I started my search all over again using various sites since this was a trip with a departure date of less than 2 weeks. I used various combinations of searching for flight and hotel separate and finally after having about 10 tabs open I settled on a package through expedia. Expedia had a good sale at the time and also allowed for 24 hr cancellation with no penalty fees.

Package: 3 nights 4 days

Airline: Delta

Hotel: Paradisus Punta Cana All Inclusive (ranked 28/101 hotels in PC according to trip advisor)

Airport: PUJ

Ground Transportation: Blue Travel/Expedia

Upon arrival unto PUJ, you enter into customs. This airport is interesting as most is outside so depending on where your plane arrives/departs you may have to take a bus to and from customs. This makes for interesting boarding, you can pretty much forget about zones when boarding as they call out zones and then you get on a bus in no order and board the plane.

They have an entry fee of $10 when you enter into customs. I paid for my ground transportation prior to since it was $12 roundtrip as opposed to trying to take a taxi. They have ground transportation kiosk located after baggage claim. I just showed them my confirmation (printed before) and they told me which shuttle I would be on.

Paradisus Punta Cana

Hotel Arrival: Staff was really nice and they escorted us to a VIP lounge for check-in which I found out was for expedia and orbitz users, a.k.a lets try to sell these customers on a timeshare. 🙂 We had a concierge and they told us we had access to premium liquor in the VIP lounge. We then had our bags taken via the resorts “tram” to the room, which I liked because when I traveled to an all-inclusive resort before you have to leave your bags in the lobby and the staff will bring you the bag which could take some time.

Room: Garden View Junior Suite building 18. Loved this building because although it was not directly on the beach it was a short 2 minute walk to the beach restaurant and pool. Buildings 36-34 are family buildings closer to the Lobby and I’m glad we did not stay in that area. Room was decent size with beds sofa balcony and a stocked mini bar of sodas, water and beer.

 

 

Food: Dining was good they have over 10 restaurants; some were closed due to the season. You could make reservations up until 5 which is suggested due to crowding. My favorite restaurant there was Mole, Mexican food. The Gabi beach buffet was not my favorite.

Resort: Lots of things to do at the Resort, there is a small casino open from 7pm to 2am. They have rock climbing; you can ride bikes around the property (i was told you have to make a reservation 24 hrs. ahead of time hmmm). They have classes such a Zumba, water aerobics, cigar and wine, sushi making and other dance classes. There is a tram that comes every 15 mins. to take you around the property. Free Wi-Fi is available in common areas and in some of the rooms (however I believe my room came with internet via Ethernet cable for laptop computer)

Resort Beach: Very clean with beds, hammocks and lots of chairs. You of course have occasional people trying to sell you things like cigars and excursions.

Sales Pitch: They give you a concierge so that you can attend a sales presentation where they try to sell you a melia membership. You can decline the (90 minute) presentation; we did not because we were curious on the cost. It wasn’t bad price but I can’t commit to that right now. I should have declined, wasted half a day.

Excursion: I used Blue Travel/Expedia who partnered with “CultourAll” and went on the Samana Tour. It is a bit pricey ranging from $250-$300, if you mention you are a VIP member with the resort you should get 10% discount. We left at 6:45 am and didn’t return until about 7pm. The tour company was awesome. We took a charter plane to samana (30-40 minute flight) and went to the country side and tasted some of the local food, then went horseback riding through rainforest up to the waterfall at El Limon, then ate at a restaurant in Samana, then took a boat to relax at Bacardi Island (no there is not tons of Bacardi at Bacardi island). It was very intense but I had a lot of fun, I’ve never rode a horse and it was so pretty to see the waterfall. It was sad to know that Samana is the poorest of the provinces in DR but the people were so friendly. We signed up for this excursion without asking many questions. We had a backpack which was helpful and a change of clothes. I had a shoulder cross purse. Antibacterial, snacks and plenty of water is helpful. They provide water but you can never have too much. Also a towel is helpful when you’re at the beach and if you decide to get in at the fall.

Nightlife: Can’t help you here as I got sick on my last night there. The resort kept pushing club jewel which is owned by them and rapper Akon. The locals had not heard of it and recommended Hard Rock casino and the club inside of there.

Would I go back to PC DR? ABSOLUTELY

Recommend this hotel? Yes it’s okay but a great deal for what we paid. The Paradisus Palma Real was really nice. The only weird thing is they have random stray cats on the resort and they weren’t timid either.

I’m not sure what made me sick but I know in the future to travel with more supplies, as well as not have drinks with DR ICE lol. I will also brush up on my Spanish for future trips. It was challenging at times to communicate with the staff, I said I was sick and they sent my call to the emergency onsite person when I was asking if they have medicine for sale.

Take plenty of cash when you go for tips and things you may want to buy such as souvenirs because you don’t want to get hit with a hefty foreign transaction fee. However some AMEX or other cards don’t charge them. Just check before you go and don’t forget to notify all banks that you are traveling, so they can notate your card.

Take lots of insect repellant!