5* Paradisus Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

5* Paradisus Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

An oasis of tropical escapism embraces the fine white sands and crystalline waters of legendary Playa Bavaro.

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Our suite was on the beach front, and was very large and spacious. Each room has a living area, individually controlled air conditioning and ceiling fan, coffee maker, safe deposit box, luxurious bathrooms, private terrace or balcony with jacuzzi, 24 hour room service and daily stocked minibar. Room service includes Champagne, breakfast and full three course meals.

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Paradisus Punta Cana Resort, coexists in harmony with nature which results in an exquisite balance of natural and man-made wonders. Open-air architecture featuring indigenous materials gracefully rises from artfully designed tropical gardens, native mangrove forests, soaring palms and magnificent views of the stunningly clear turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.

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At every turn there is a new species of exotic vegetation, native birds and delicate garden scents. The Caribbean playground offers tennis, championship golf, an array of gorgeous pools, every non-motorized water sport imaginable, a casino, an exquisite full-service spa and health club and a thrilling collection of unique island activities.

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The staff are incredibly professional and attentive to hotel guests. As we walked round the grounds, a man cut up a coconut that had fallen off the trees and gave it to use. Its taste was incredible.

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All the hotel buildings are exotic, clean and very spacious.

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The resort offers 9 international restaurants, 8 bars with premium drinks and 24 hours room service

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The food was range was incredible, with each restaurant designed differently. Our favorite was the Argentinian Grill. Make sure you book well in advance because they fill up quickly! After dinner, if you can stay awake, after the early rise, day at the beach, excellent food and wine, don’t forget to go to the beach bar, disco or even to the circus.

The only bad comment I feel that should be highlighted were the vouchers amounting to $1,500 that we were given to spend at the resort. We didn’t spend any, as most had conditions of high minimum spends attached to them.

The hotel was beautiful, the beach idyllic and the service top rate. Choose Paradisus as your Punta Cana destination, you won’t be disappointed!

Santo Domingo, una vida caliente

Santo Domingo, una vida caliente

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A trip to Santo Domingo, a must do if you want to experience the real life and soul of the Dominican Republic. Remember, it is hotter in the capital, so bring lots of water, hats, sun lotion and headache pills!

The Dominican Republic in the West Indies occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with Haiti. The Dominican Republic was explored by Columbus on his first voyage in 1492. Santo Domingo became the site of the first cathedral, hospital, customs house and university in the Americas. This Ciudad Colonial, was founded in 1498 and was laid out on a grid pattern that became the model for almost all town planners in the New World.

The old colonial part of the city has been incredibly well preserved and renovated -All the streets clean, the buildings immaculate. The Ozama Fortress and Tower of Homage are said to be oldest formal military outposts still standing in the Americas.The whole area felt very safe, although apparently it was necessary to be accompanied by a security guard throughout the trip to the capital.

Among the Colonial City’s most outstanding buildings is the cathedral, constructed between 1514 and 1542. It is the oldest in the Americas.

The Panteon National. An Honor Guard stands at attention remaining absolutely still and is only allowed to move for two minutes every three hours. The task is arduous and physically draining.

Lunch A la Dominicana 😉

We drove along the promenade, and visited the newer regions of the city, including the Presidential Palace. The city was vibrant and full of life.

 

Sat behind the coach glass, cool and refreshed from the air-con, for our security, we could not explore deeper into Santo Domingo’s heart. For me the glass windows were too much of a barrier, and although I really enjoyed walking around the colonial part of the city, we were not really allowed a real experience or introduction into the everyday life of the people. As everything seemed very poor though, I think that it is understandable for proud Dominicans to prefer to show the us their beautiful buildings and world famous heritage.

Next stop…Punta Cana

Next stop…Punta Cana

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The airport is built in the traditional style, thatched buildings with no glass or windows. When it rains, an elaborate system or points and overhangs channel the water down to the ground.The palm trees swayed and the sun warmed us. Welcome to the Caribbean! Our journey had been long, more than 24 hours, with three stop overs, delays, compensation vouchers and finally although we had arrived, our bags had not. Somehow however, this was all forgotten as the warm sun kissed our faces and we disembarked from the plane.

The hotel was magnificent. After driving through tropical gardens, we pulled up in front of the hotel. Don’t forget to book your taxi from and to the airport through a local company like we did. Email and talk prices with jennymelob@hotmail.com  for a local service, at more than two thirds off the hotel price.The staff were awaiting our arrival. The dark black wood sparkled, inner fountains trickled away relaxingly. We were whisked into the VIP lounge, where our coconut bracelets were sealed around our wrists. This gave us access to all the seven restaurants, the pool, the spa, all the on site bars, sports facilities…Our week would clearly be very busy.

The campus was huge. I personally loved the walk through the tropical gardens, passed the white buildings housing. Our suite was on the sea front, it was paradise and everything felt very safe.

The perks of jet lag – after room service breakfast, I popped onto the beach to capture the sunrise.

The hotel at night turned into a fairy wonderland, with lights, music and performances.

If you are not planning on spending most of your time in an all inclusive resort, then Punta Cana isn’t the place to go. The activities offered, although enjoyable are very much for tourists. We chose to do the tour of the surrounding countryside in a motorized quad-bike/buggy. The fun part was driving through muddy, pot holed roads, and watching others and ourselves get soaked in mud! Yes, it was that sort of trip! If you don’t like dirt, avoid this one, or else opt for the VIP Buggy like we did, and come out relatively clean – i.e. you won’t have to throw your clothes away on return to the hotel.

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The trip to the plantation, although interesting, was fairly staged, and had clearly been built for the purpose of the tour. I was disappointed, as I had done a similar tour in Cuba which had been far more authentic, interesting and where we had visited an actual working farm. The stop off for the swim in the cave was short and lots of time was spent waiting and on sales.  The surrounding towns and countryside very poor. I hope that some of the money that was spent on the coffee, hot chocolate and flavored cigars managed to make its way to the children and local school as promised. The Dominicans had tried their best to show us the region, and what we had seen was very beautiful, but it just seemed that there just wasn’t a lot for them to work with. Needless to say the final stop, Macau Beach, was my favorite part, and very beautiful. The whole trip was really made 100% better by the great Dominican guides humor, fun, laughter and interesting information about the island and its people.