It had been since our honeymoon that Gary and I had taken a vacation. Seven years, you guys. SEVEN! Sure, we've had a few little weekend getaways since then: Santa Barbara, Vegas, a couple trips to San Diego with the kiddos. But a real take-your-time, enjoy-the-scenery vacation? Seven years.
We had started planning one and after some back-and-forth about where to go, we decided on Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and another couple friends of ours came too.
I didn't really know what to expect, but this place exceeding any expectations I didn't know I had (if that makes sense!). The country was so beautiful and everyone was so nice. Our resort was stunning. Seriously, I could live there. We did have a little mix-up with our rooms when we got there, but it was quickly resolved. It's really hard to stress out about anything at this place. We had upgraded to the Elegance Club so we were able to take advantage of the many benefits that provides. It wasn't very much extra, so I would do it again in a heartbeat.
This was my first experience with an all-inclusive resort, so it took a couple days to get used to not paying for food or drinks, which was all delicious. We were also able to do various activities for free. We went kayaking one afternoon which I loved. Another day, Gary and I went out on a big innertube-type contraption and that was so much fun!
Everyone who worked there spoke English very well, but the native language is Spanish with a lot of French speakers as well from those who came over from Haiti. I was surprised at how much of my high school Spanish came back to me. Everyone was so nice and tried to help you out if you were trying to speak Spanish to them. It made me want to take some refresher courses so I could be better next time! (Gracias a la señora DeMaster, señora Schrock, señora Medina, y Profé Logterman por ensenandome español muy bien por lo que recuerdo después 13 años). (<-- I hope that was right!)
They have a big open-air theater where they have shows every night. One night they were doing a music quiz, so we thought, "This could be fun." They would play part of a song and if you knew it, you had to run up to the stage and give the song title and singer. Thinking it was harmless to give it a shot, I went up and guessed "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston. They gave the winners a small prize and had us sit on the stage. After all the songs were guessed, they threw us a curveball. The second part of the game, for a chance at a free massage at the spa, we all had to SING THE SONG WE GUESSED!!! I was freaking out! I've been singing in choirs and such my whole life practically, but solos? No way. And taking on a Whitney song? HELL NO! I did the best I could, but I was shaking so hard. Gary so lovingly got the performance on video. I suppose it wasn't as bad as I thought while I was up there, but it wasn't good either. It was a fun experience though!
We initially weren't planning on taking any excursions outside the resort, but we got caught up by someone at the airport. According to this guy, all we had to do was go visit a new resort and we could pick an excursion at a discount. The discount was so good, we felt it was worth the 90 minutes he said it would take. Plus, we got breakfast too! Well, breakfast was fine, but 90 minutes somehow turned into 3 hours. Our guide was a douchebag and the hotel was nice, I guess, but we all liked ours a lot better. And at the beginning, we were told this isn't a sales pitch. Well, the sales pitch we got at the end of the tour would beg to differ. By the end of it, we were all so annoyed. Fast forward to a week later when we got home and looked more into this company? We dodged a HUGE bullet. They are a big scam. Terrible reviews from pretty much everyone. Awful experiences. I don't know how they are still in business.
The plus side is our excursion was still discounted and we had a great time! We got to ride buggies into the Dominican countryside. We were introduced to a woman named Francesca and were taught a little bit about the culture of this little off-the-grid mining village. Then we got to go into a cave, which was very cool. The people who ran the excursion had turned the upper part of the cave into a little Flinstone's tribute. It was kitschy and cheesy, but it was also undeniable cute and fun. I think Gary liked the ride back the best because since we weren't making any stops, he got to drive very fast over bumpy roads. It was a blast!
I loved the country and the resort. I know with certainty we will be back! It was pretty family friendly, so maybe we'll take the kids next time! And get a swim up suite!