Arrival We stayed at the Barcelo Dominican Beach from Feb 14/09 to Feb 21/09. This was our first trip outside the country for both my husband and I. We flew with Sunwing, out of Halifax. We were one hour delayed, due to runway conditions, but it was nothing serious. The flight could have been better had we had a little more leg room, but I was on my way to the beach, what did I care! Being we were a little late with our scheduled arrival, we had to circle the airport about 4 times before landing. The only good thing about this, was we got a great aireal view of Punta Cana! Upon arrival, we entered the airport where there was a lady holding a Sunwing sign. We were greeted by two beautiful ladies in Dominican dress, and they took our pitcure, which we could later purchase on our exit out of the country…and that we did ($9 us). We proceded through a fast moving line, which was a little hectic for a first timer, you are expected to be well prepared and keep the line moving.
This is where you pay your $10 tourist fee, and present your passport to be stamped. Then it is off to pick-up luggage and find your bus. Which we did, with the help of someone that offered to help. I am thankful that he did. There were alot of busses, and he took us directly to the right one. He appreciated a tip of $5, well worth it to us! We had about a 20 minute drive, and thankfully, we were the first stop…no chance of loosing our luggage! Check-in was uneventful and the drink they offered was nice and refreshing. We checked in about 2pm, and we were told to come back in about an hour to get our key. We had friends waiting for us as they arrived the day prior, so that was no problem. We went to their room to change and we hit the beach until about 5pm.
We stayed in block 98, which is the furthest block from the beach. It would have been nice to have had a room next to our friends(block 64), but they traveled with sunquest, and I think that makes a difference when requesting rooms together. I am not a person to complain, so we took the room without a fuss, and were glad we did. We may have been far from the beach, but we were also far from the noise and people. When it came night time and we wanted to sleep, this was a wonderful feature. So what we had to walk a little! If I didn’t have to walk there, I am sure this would have been a part of the resort I would have not gotten to see. We stayed in room 9830, which was on the third floor and I have absolutely no complaints about it. It had 2 double beds, which was fine, as we used one to hold our luggage and things…kept it off the floor. We had a huge double closet, and a nice sized bathroom, with a large vanity, which was great, when it came to holding all of our toiletries. The shower, sink and toilet were very clean, and that is what really mattered. There was a hairdryer that was attached to the wall, a make-up mirror, and a coffee pot. We had a patio door leading to the balcony, which had a clothes dryer and a table with 2 chairs…perfect, there was just the 2 of us. We had a tv, and a remote, but we didn’t go there to watch TV, we went there to get away from it. Everything was ceramic tile…even the balcony. There was an iron and a safe in the closet, but we didn’t use either. There was a bar fridge, and an air conditioner that always worked. Again, I repeat, we didn’t have any complaints with our room. We had to check out of our room at 12 noon, but we were able to make a reservation for a complimentry room to get cleaned up, as our bus wasn’t picking us up until 6:30pm. I found that this room was not quite up to my standards, but for the 15 minutes we were there, it was fine.
Restaurants and Bars:
I believe there were 4 a la cartes, and 3 buffets. We only ate at one of the a la catres. The only one you need to make a reservation at is the Japanese, which we heard was awesome, but we weren’t able to get reservations. Apparently you should book that on your first day if you really want to attend. We ate at the Italian, and for me, I tried the lasagna, and didn’t like it..and I am not a picky eater. The atmosphere was nice, but nothing to get excited about. We mostly ate at the buffets, the small buffet was best for breakfast…and the larger was best for lunch and dinner. The omoletes were awesome, you were sure to have a little wait, but it is worth it. I found the food to be just fine. Again I am not picky. I was game to try anything once. They have a little something for everyone. They have a grill next to the beach where you can have a burger and a 24 hour pizza place where you can enjoy pizza and we even found they had wings and fries one night. If you are looking for snacks, you should pack your own. There isn’t any unless you buy it at the little shop and it is very expensive.
The beach is AWESOME!!! The Sand is like powder. I have no complaints about the beach at all. We always found chairs, and we were looking for 4. There is just enough palm trees to offer shade to someone who wants it, and sun for those who don’t. They have activities at the beach daily, but we stayed clear of that. Friday nights they hold a Beach Party at 11pm…we retired before the real fun started, so I can’t report on that. They have 3 pools, a small one near the beach, and a larger one in the middle of the resort, and one that is in a section tha we beleive is the Italian side of the resort. It is seperate from the others. The larger pool offers a deeper end, and a shallow end. There is a swim up bar, which gets a little crowded around mid afternoon. Again, here we never had trouble getting chairs, and we only reserved them once. We took our chances. The grounds are very nice. Clean, clean, clean. There was a pond that had a bridge/gazebo over it, that didn’t have water the whole week we were there, but I am sure they had a reason for it. It was nice to stroll the walkways with the music playing from the rock speakers.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We took the free shuttle bus to the Palma Real Mall,(5 minutes away) Very expensive little boutiques, but we went there for the Hard Rock Cafe. We spent 2 hours there, and enjoyed every minute. We had awesome food, nachos and wings, and bought souveniers from the gift shop. We got a cab back, for $10…not bad. Apparently there is a cheaper mall close by, but we didn’t check it out. We did the Safari Outback Tour, and loved it. Our tourguide was Jose, and our driver was Victor. They were great. Jose speaks very good english, and was very informative. The drive to our destinations was worth the money. We got to see all kinds of things we never though we would. You certainly learn to appreciate the little things in life, that’s for sure. We went to a typical home that is sponsored by the safari outback company. We visited a cocoa and coffee bean plantation, saw a crocodile, tried mamajuana(dominican viagara) and went boogie boarding at a local beach. The boogie boarding was the best! It was an 8 hour tour and we all enjoyed it…they serve drinks all day and a meal half way through.
Other Comments: There is an internet hut on site, you can choose the time you want, $5 for 20 minutes, and it gets billed to your room. They offer massages on the resort too, but you have to pay. The girls go around asking you, they are not pushy, they take no for an answer. Also you can get braids done…no hassles here, as I have short hair. Friday nights they allow vendors on the resort. They do not bother you unless you go to their table. I actually thought it was fun to bargain with them. You can also walk to the left at the beach and visit the vendors. They try their best to get you to visit their shop, but don’t really pressure you to purchase. If you are walking along the beach, and prefer not to be bothered, walk in the water, as they do not want to get wet. They will not approach you. Never pay full price…start about 1/2 of what they ask and go fom there. We didn’t get approached at all by time share people, and we were told, not to buy cigars and rum on the beach.
The cigars could be made from banana leaves, and the run might just be water. We enjoyed our trip very much. Again this is our first time away, so we don’t have anything to compare our trip to, but when you leave happy, that must account for something. We would definetly go back, but next time we will try someplace else, maybe even a different country.