Our one year anniversary was approaching and we decided that we would give an all-inclusive a try. We are normally ones to explore and not be confined to one place, but who can say no to beautiful beaches, all you can eat and drink for a week? Groupon Getaways is a great place to search for all inclusive deals and they normally do not disappoint. We booked our deal and next booked our flight with South West. We love South West because we were able to use credits from a flight to Florida we previously cancelled at no charge. I will say though, be sure to check-in online as soon as you can. The wife got a bit teary eyed on the flight to the Dominican because we could not sit together. Nothing a few lil prepackaged "Nips", this is what my wife calls the single serving alcohol bottles, won't fix. Not sure if that is what they're called, but I digress. These were her idea and they are great. You can buy one for about one to two dollars, where as a plane they are gonna be five bucks minimum.
Landing in the Dominican was great. Customs was very easy going through and they even had a live music performance going on the whole time. We learned that you should not do your exchange at the airport though. One, most locals want to be paid in USD and two, the airport is not very honest in their exchange rate. So, save your time and MONEY, skip the exchange, bring a bunch of ones and fives, and you are good to go.
The resort we stayed at, Catalonia Royal Bavaro, was great! Very accommodating, beautiful rooms, and separate from the family side of the resort. Last thing you want to are a bunch of kids running around, spilling your drinks, and staring at your wife's boobs. Did I not mention the resort is topless? Yea, there is that too. The rooms have a jacuzzi bathtub and the staff will come up with several different ways to make your towels look like all the animals in the kingdom.
After drinking at as many bars as we could find and eating at most of the restaurants, you will find your groove. So first off, DRINKS. My advice is, stay away from all the fruity sweet drinks, unless that is your thing. Myself and the wife personally, would be done in no time from an upset stomach. We came to drink and drink is what we will do. Everyone is there to party and get their money's worth, so we are "goin in". We were probably the only people who were not drinking vodka sprite the entire time. We also realized no one really likes to order whiskey. So we pretty much drank Jim Beam straight the entire trip. It is a must to get a few Mama Juanas while you are at it. They are sweet, but damn they have a kick. Plus they are a local drink you won't get anywhere else. There are bunch of games you can find on a schedule to play where the prize is a bottle of rum. Do this. Go to every one of them and try to win. They are fun and if you you don't want the booze, they are a great thing to take around and share with some new friends. Or just be cheap and say you got a gift for you friends and family back home. There are bunch of activities you should make some time to attend like, learn how to play blackjack, Bingo, a luau, beach dance party, and etc. Something cool we found out was to stop one of the guys landscaping and ask for a coconut. They have them stashed all over the place, and for a couple bucks, they will serve one up to you.
Now about the food... It took a minute to really adjust to the restaurants. You have a melting pot of people from all over the world coming to one place. Obviously the resort is trying to cater to as many nationalities as possible, but their buffets end up reminding me of a Chinese restaurant that also serves, Mexican , burgers, wings, and pasta. So with that, stick to the restaurants that are not buffets. We had great consistent breakfasts at the front and near the beach, tasty pizza near the pool bar, and a bunch of other places if you are feeling fearless to travel to the family side.
The beaches were super relaxing, warm, and beautiful. You can even find a sand bar path that takes you out about a 100 yards into the ocean from the beach. If you venture down the beach to the right of the resort, facing the ocean, you will find an area not ran by the resort, but has a lot of souvenirs and a masseuse. My wife loved the massage, but I am pretty sure the people outside the hut thought I was being tortured. If you like pain with your massage, ask for Iris. This was about as far off the resort that we got since everyone says it is too dangerous to venture out alone. We met a guy from another part of the Dominican and even he said he wouldn't leave cause he was not from these parts. My desire to ride on a motorcycle through the streets of the Caribbean will have to wait for another trip.
We like to scuba dive as much as we can, but I was disappointed in this dive since there was barely any sea life. We did a drift dive, which was our first, the crew was great, the water was clear, but the sea life was absent. My suggestion, take the island trip they offer. I wish we had done that, but the weather did not permit. We spoke to some people that made it out and said they had a great time.
Overall, the experience itself was great. If you want to make yourself relax and not be all over the place, this is the way to go. The resort was affordable, the staff was above and beyond, and the activities were a blast. If you want a place to explore and try a bunch of different things, All Inclusive is not for you.