This year we wanted our vacation to be different and very memorable. We wanted to book it ahead of time so we didn't run into problems of not finding something. This time we wanted to use a travel agent. It just so happened that I knew one! We have been Facebook friends for years and as I have gotten to know Lisa I knew she was my first choice.
We wanted to go on a cruise but after talking to Lisa about all the other wonderful places to see we changed our mind. We ultimately settled on The Grand Palladium Bavaro Resort and Spa in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. She even sent us pictures from her stay and told us first hand what to expect. She handled everything and sent us all of our paperwork very quickly. I was amazed at how fast and efficient she was.
The staff were super friendly and spoke mostly english. The language spoken is predominately Spanish with a few French speaking Haitians in the mix. Over all we did not have much of a language barrier.
Like a cruise there are ample opportunities to eat. There are 5 buffet Restaurants and 8 A La Carte Restaurants. We ate tons of fruit! The pineapple was our favorite but we got the opportunity to try starfruit, passion fruit, Papaya, Guava and many more.
The views were spectacular! It was heaven. I could live in a tropical paradise like this. The ocean was clear the skies were super blue and the breeze off the ocean was calming and serene.
We had so much fun and learned a lot while we were here. I thought I would share a few tips that will help make your trip as memorable as ours was.
1. Take plenty of sunscreen. The sun is more intense there and you will get burned if you aren't careful. Take more than you think you need. Sunscreen there is $40 USD a bottle! I kid you not! You do not want to spend your vacation in the shade because you ran out of lotion.
2. Take plenty of $1 dollar bills for tips. We tipped bar tenders, the porters, the casino worker who took her time out of her evening to help me when I injured my knee, the guys who drove the trams, etc. There is a safe in the rooms. I would advise you to use it. Not just for your tip money but your passports, credit cards etc.
3. Take a First Aid kit with you!! Someone is bound to scrape a knee, get scratched etc. It happens to all of us. The clinic is very expensive and want cash up front. Avoid it if at all possible. They do sell bandaids but it's $2.00/ bandage. They do not sell them by the box! Make sure you bring things such as Neosporin, bandages, etc. Anything that will prevent infection. Do not clean wounds with water from the faucet. Use bottled water only. I ended up with a bad infection in my knee and Cellulitus because of a scraped up knee and not much in the way of covering it. It's been three weeks and I'm still on antibiotics, the swelling and pain have lessened. Take it from me. Bring your own bandages!
4. Brush up on your high school Spanish. Not only is it a great opportunity to teach your kids about other languages, but the locals appreciate your effort. There were a few times that they would get so excited about talking to us that they reverted to rapid Spanish. It helps to know a few words so you can get the gist of what they are saying.
5. Men 12 years and older, bring pants and collared shirts for dinner. Women may dress as they like for dinner. Ladies use your best judgement but I would recommend a sun dress. It's still warm in the evenings until after 9 or so.
Over all, we had a blast. We rode on a catamaran, had a barbecue lunch on the beach, rode a speed boat, played mini golf, had alone time with our oldest daughter, visited the site where the movie Blue Lagoon was filmed, found and held starfish and so much more!
Would I recommend visiting Punta Cana? Absolutely! It really was a trip to remember. I loved being able to show my kids a different culture, teach them another language, and to experience food from other countries. It truly was paradise!
If you need someone to help you plan your next vacation, Lisa with Farnesi Travel is your girl!!