Traci and I were invited to go on this trip by Cousin Deana and her husband, Clarence. They had a beautiful wedding at the Grand Lido Resort in Negril, Jamaica the year before and decided to celebrate their one-year anniversary in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic with family and friends. There were ten of us who traveled to Punta Cana. Our travel group consisted of Deana and Clarence; Debbie and Brandon, Rochelle and Bryan; Tracey B.; Ms. Pat; and Traci and me.
Traci and I flew USA 3000 Airlines (Apple Vacations chartered airline) from Philadelphia to Baltimore where the rest of our travel companions boarded the flight to Puna Cana. The flight time from Baltimore was approximately 3.5 hours.
The Traveling 10
I'll admit I was a little apprehensive, at first, about going to the Dominican Republic because of some of the recent news reports about the area. The Dominican Republic is on the same island as Haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. Haiti had been having a very bad year - its president had been overthrown by rebels; Hurricane Jeanne devastated the country and caused over 1000 deaths. On the Dominican side of the island, there were news reports of Dominicans trying to reach the shores of Puerto Rico in makeshift boats to escape the economic conditions of the Dominican Republic. I wondered if we would be able have a relaxing vacation or would we be confined to the resort and constantly looking over our shoulders.
Well, fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly and joyful the Dominican people are. We were on the eastern tip of the island where there are beautiful beaches and picturesque countrysides.
Tourism is relatively new in the Dominican Republic. The country is trying to establish a solid footing in the Caribbean tourism business. If you ask me, I think they are off to a very good start. They've got modern resorts, multi-lingual staff, natural beauty, and a variety of fun activities.
We arrived at the Punta Cana International Airport to 90 degree weather. The airport kind of looks like a series of giant huts. We went through customs and gathered our luggage in almost no time. It was an approximately 20 minute ride on the Apple Vacations shuttle bus from the airport to our resort, Iberostar Dominicana.
Punta Cana International Airport
shuttle bus ride from the airport
Iberostar Dominicana is one of three complexes within the Iberostar resort. They are all within walking distance of each other. Iberostar Dominicana is situated between Iberostar Punta Cana and Iberostar Bavaro. Dominicana and Punta Cana look almost identical with their motel style buildings. Bavaro has villa units. Each of the three complexes has a pool, a show area, restaurants, bars, reception desk, beach access, and other facilities. Bavaro seems to be the more modern of the complexes but the rooms are about the same as those we stayed in at Dominicana. We know this because a receptionist at Bavaro let us see a room that she thought was unoccupied. Oops! That wasn't the case but fortunately, the occupants weren't there at the time. Whew! That would have been awkward for them to return to find us getting a tour of their room. Despite being the more modern of the complexes, the villa layout of Bavaro had a distinct disadvantage; and that is, when it rained there was no covered path for getting to the main dining and entertainment areas. Conversely, Dominicana and Punta Cana have covered paths, although the polished tile can become very slippery when it gets wet.
I was a little confused of the access rules for each of the three complexes. We were told that we had access to amenities at all of the three complexes; however, this did not seem to apply when it came to getting food or drinks on the Bavaro side. I went to the bar to order a lemonade on the Bavaro side but the bartender pointed at my wristband and told me I needed to order at Dominicana or Punta Cana. Clarence was told the same thing when he tried but a nice person sitting at the bar with a Bavaro wristband simply ordered one for him.
approaching the pool area
There is a daily list of activities scheduled at half hour increments from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. The activities were lead by the energetic activity coordinators. These coordinators were very personable and hardworking. I was impressed that some of them had managed to memorize our names despite the huge number of tourists they come in contact with daily. The activities included exercise classes, dance classes, volleyball, ping pong, mini golf, bingo, and many other activities. They even offered a daily Spanish class, which I enjoyed attending each morning.
Traci enjoyed the step aerobics class each morning
Darn! Eliminated in the 1st round
Sitting by the pool playing Bingo was a memorable experience. The caller had to call the numbers in four different languages (Spanish, English, French, and German) because of the diverse group of vacationers at the resort. The caller was excellent. He was even able to make jokes in these languages.
The resort also had a fitness room with nice equipment. Just be prepared to sweat as the fitness room is on the second floor of a building with no fan or air condition. It has open windows all around but in 90 degree, humid weather you don't notice much of a difference. I think I started sweating when I first entered the place. Despite this, I think everyone in our group, except me, worked out there at least once during the week. If you've read any of my other trip reports then you know working out is not my idea of vacation. Nonetheless, I was proud of my travel companions for being disciplined enough to exercise that week.
Several people in our group signed up for a massage and spa. These are not included in the price of the vacation package so you must make a reservation and pay for them. I think everyone enjoyed their massages and spa treatment; however, Traci did not care for the facial. continue...
Traci and Debbie complete their morning jog