Wednesday, February 20, 2008

6 Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Long, cold winters in Boston make you dream about a place like Punta Cana. Needless to say it felt pretty amazing to disembark into the 80-degree Caribbean air. From the airport, we found the "shuttle" to our hotel-- a beat-up minivan circa 1985. While we had understood that transportation was included in our Orbitz package, we lacked the vouchers requested by our driver and ended up paying $40 to get to our hotel. So if you do book a trip to Punta Cana, it is important you work out these details ahead of time.

*At the time of publication, we have not resolved the issue with Orbitz. We did make sure to secure a receipt (chicken scratch in spanish on the back of our printed itinerary) from our driver to aid us in this dispute.

The all-inclusive Riu Resort in Punta Cana were our accommodations for the long President's Day weekend. The property is comprised of two super swanky hotels (Palace Punta Cana and Palace Macao) and three less deluxe (Naiboa, Taino, and Bambu). We stayed at Naiboa (pictured at left), which was the least expensive of the five, and thought it was an amazing deal. At arrival we were greeted by a bright, airy and very pink lobby. The room was clean and comfortable, with it's own complimentary liquor dispenser offering undoubtedly the finest bottom shelf rum and vodka of the area. The less than deluxe features included a small size, hardish bed, and a taped up handle on the sliding door to the balcony. Guests of the Naiboa, Taino and Bambu can use each others pools and restaurants (the food is all the same), and the deluxe hotels can use any hotel's facilities.

We were apprised of these rules upon checking in, when we also received our all-inclusive certification card and instructions on making reservations for dinner. Patrick was told that "large pants" were required at dinnertime.

While reservations are required for your seated dinner hour, we found that we were essentially eating nonstop throughout the day. Little distinguished the buffet breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, but we certainly never went hungry! We also learned to make pina coladas a staple of our diet. There were plenty of bars by and even in the pool and at the beach with bartenders ready to shake the fruity, rummy concoction of your choice. Katrina preferred to sip citrus-based cocktails before noon, since that seemed more morning appropriate.

But let's get serious, the real reason we and everyone else was there was the beach, and it did not disappoint. Neither of us had ever seen water that color--or that clear. The sand was soft and made for excellent long walks on the beach. And the constant off-shore breeze helped keep us cool in the blistering sun. We were delighted to find that the all-inclusiveness extended to water sports as well. We spent a gorgeous morning kayaking on the open water of the Atlantic and another afternoon playing water polo.

What was amazing about the resort was its mix of appeals. There were college-age spring breakers partying by the pool, retirees laying on the beach, and families making sandcastles and playing in the waves. The Riu Resorts are a European chain so there were lots of French, Spanish and German visitors, and not many Americans.

To help the intermingling of this diverse clientele, there is a staff "Animation Team". By day they are in charge of leading water aerobics, dance lessons and other such acitivities. They always pick up quite a following of new friends. But at night is when they really shine--we start with a rowdy game of Bingo followed by varying entertainment. One night there was a Mr. Naiboa beauty pageant, another was karaoke. Whatever that night's show, we could count on the Animation Team's signature dance routine and our emcee's ridiculous antics. While our active participation was limited to Katrina winning a Tshirt in Bingo, we had alot of fun watching German renditions of British pop and middle-aged, potbellied stripteases (captured below in video).

This all-inclusive vacation was definitely a change of pace from the past independent, more adventurous traveling that is our style. There is not much opportunity for exploring, and you really don't see anything of Dominican culture. That being said, it is a beautiful beach and perfect location for a resort. We were looking for a relaxing beach getaway and we definitely found it! Highly recommended for anyone planning the same.


  1. Wow! I amazed from your photos! It looks like tropical heaven:) Last year I was in two weeks vacation in London with my family and it was very nice. This year I'm closer to have a fantastic tropical vacation in the place like you did:) Thanks for the post:)

  2. Punta Cana would really be the place someone would ever want to visit when he had the time to. And by the looks of it, I've fallen to the place, it made me wanna book a flight now and go there. But then, for a meanwhile, I must be satisfied with just the pictures of it. Thanks for the post! Cheers!


    Punta Cana vacation

  3. Great photos of the Dominican Republic. Looks like you had a fabulous time!

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