SKY SERVICE Flight: Oh boy… everyone who said it was a small cramped plane was NOT kidding! I’m 5′ and I got swollen legs from being cramped. Make sure if you are on this plane, you make a couple trips to the furthest washroom just to get the blood flowing in your legs. Both flights were exactly on time, and the staff were amazingly friendly which was a huge surprise after what I had read. (I told them that I was surprised they smiled as well and they laughed). Food however, was… well… gross. The way there was a warm wrap of spaghetti sauce, small carrot/raisin salad, cup of water, cheese and crackers (those were good!) and some sort of cake thing. The way back was similar with the exception of some spicy thing in the wrap. BRING YOUR OWN FOOD FOR THE PLANE. They have movies which can be access via the earphones they sell you for $5 or you can use your own from home.
DRIVE TO RESORT: Yep, it is 60 minutes for sure, maybe a little more and I had to laugh when I read a review somewhere by a fellow with a preg. wife who didn’t like the bumps. I guess he thought they were going to take the Dominican 401? They do not have good roads there. Anywhere. I think if I was preg. I would be doing a little more reading up on where I was going before getting on a plane so things like that wouldn’t be a surprise. But, yes it is long but at least the 2 buses Sunquest put us on were nice.
RESORT CHECK IN: Here is a tip and I hope it doesn’t come back to bite me if everyone starts doing it. I jumped off the bus and headed for the front desk while my husband waited for the luggage. By the time everyone came in, we were all signed in and ready to head to our room. We were greeted with a wonderful glass of juice and off we went.
ROOM: I have to say our room was the nicest we have ever had of any hotel we have stayed in with perhaps the exception of Stage West and the Double Tree west of Toronto. Huge room with a marble bathroom, great water pressure and hot water at every time of day even with 4 of us showering several times a day in some cases. Mini bar was always full, beautiful balcony looking towards the water… what more could we want? (get the safe key for $2 per day at the desk when you check in to save yourself a trip back to the front desk later).
FOOD: Well, it isn’t "our" food (Canadian), but it must have been alright because I packed on almost 10lbs in 7 days! We are rather picky eaters, for example, our kids think hot dogs are a treat when they go to a friends birthday party because I don’t buy "mystery meat". However, there was always fresh pineapple, cantaloupe, mango, and papaya. Always something to put a salad together as well. Breakfast always served up pancakes and sausages (different than ours) an omelette bar, yoghurts by the dozens (not the same as you are used to), and cereals, smoothies made fresh while you watched, donuts and pastries, etc. Again, these are "their" version so don’t go down expecting to get Tim Horton’s stuff. Lunch had the same fruits and desserts, breads, soup, hot dishes, etc. etc. and Dinner had at least 3 assortments of meats some carved in front of you, soups, potatoes (I think the mashed were instant though), etc.etc. I have to say, the people that said they couldn’t find anything to eat there really shouldn’t be traveling. They need to stay close to their own stove. These people go out of their way to ensure the tourists have everything they want, and I find it sad that so many seem ungrateful of those efforts and cannot see the forest for the trees. I love crepes with peaches and whipped cream, but had to settle for plain ones with a syrup. Oh well. It is the same as 10 people bringing a potato salad to a party. I’ll bet not 2 are the same. Everyone has their own version, some you will like and some you wont.
BEACH: No words can express the beauty of what you are going to see.
CHAIRS: Not once in 7 days did we "reserve" a chair or have our towels moved while we were at the water. Perhaps we lucked out? Always lots there.
ENTERTAINMENT: WOW. I highly suggest you take part in all the exercise classes though if you are going to enjoy the food as we did. They had stretches and aerobics. Lots of fun stuff to like dance lessons and games and a Mr. Sexy 2007 that was the best 30 minutes I can remember in a long time.
KIDS CLUB: The two women who looked after this were wonderful. Our kids had the option of going or staying with us and always chose to go. 10am to 12pm and then 3pm to 5pm. Some nights the kids met them for dinner and then off to the mini disco or beach party. They even got a Sirenis Cocotal T-shirt to show off to their friends on Monday.
EXTRAS: When you walk down to the water you can walk along the beach to the right or to the left. If you go left, you will see a big white sign for horseback riding, ATV rentals, Fishing, etc. We ended up becoming quite good acquaintances with Ramon there who books the tours and I would even call him a new friend since he was concerned enough about us that he called me when we got home to make sure we arrived safely. You must put aside $40 for the 2.5 hour ATV tour! We went through the town and our kids got to see what life is like for the children there. When they hear the bikes coming, they all run out yelling "olla" and put their hands out so you can give them a "hi 5". I was just about "olla’d" out by the time we got back. We stopped at an underground cave which was magnificent and then at a store in the town were we rested up for a few minutes and got a free coke. It is $40 for a bike so if you double it, it is still the same money. I suggest you pack a bandana though for the dust and if you have swimming or ski goggles, you might want those as well.
Horseback riding was fun and I went 3 times. We have our own trail riding facility of 31 horses, so it was hard to see those horses. I was able to show Ramon though that doing up that back cinch so tight made it hard for the horse to breath, so at least that has changed. The ride was wonderful, $20 for 90 minutes. They also have a full moon ride that you should ask about as well. A beautiful ride down the beach at around 8pm is a once in a lifetime thing. Check it out. If you do, would you please do me a favour and tell him Lorrie or the horse lady from Canada says hi! He only gets paid if he books a tour, so make sure you share the word with others as I have if you enjoy it.
BAD HAIR DAY: Ladies, if you are prone to frizzy hair in damp weather (I didn’t realize I was!), pack a bottle of anti frizz hair cream. My hair is normally straight and I looked like I had a bad perm going on for the week. Where’d those curls come from???
MOSQUITOES and SAND FLEAS: Yep, found ’em. Only at night in the specialty restaurants did we have problems though so we sprayed our ankles and all was well. The sand fleas were bad in a couple areas down the beach, but we never did have a problem with any on the resort. Tiny little things that you really have to look for to see.
MAID SERVICE: Our maid was wonderful and as the saying goes "what goes around comes around". We took her special things and made an effort to communicate with her when we needed 2 extra towels (thanks to Debbies travel spanish/english cheat sheet!) we were able to leave her a note and VOILA, there were 2 extra towels. We made sure we always said Olla and smiled and left her special things each day, and one day we came in and she had left us 2 small paintings for our kids and 1 large beautiful one for us! I asked her what she would like from people wanting to bring things and she couldn’t narrow it down, just that she would be grateful for anything. She kept pointing to our knock off Walmart special Crock shoes so we left those and she wanted us to leave any of our kids clothes that we didn’t want. So, if your kids have outgrown anything, I know where you can take it.
WAIT STAFF: Eat fast or your plate is gone! They are so fast at ensuring you never have a dirty plate in front of you….. always smiling, always willing to help with anything you need.
VENDORS: When you go left on the beach there are vendors just past Ramon’s little hut where he books the tours. The don’t seem to have as many things as the ones on the other side, but sure worth a check because they have other things. The one thing they all said about our family was that they felt "equal" to us because we would shake their hands and smile and laugh when they called us into their little stores. What a great feeling that was, and again, how sad that being friendly all the time and smiling and taking their had was "different".
COCONUT AND SUGAR CANE: Neither are on a shelf for sale. Ask. The vendors to the right of the beach were wonderful for climbing the trees so our kids could see how they get them! Amazing! Take the camera for that one and although they never asked for money because they knew it made us happy, we paid for everything. Take some straws with you so you can drink the milk and then taste the young coconut. Nothing like you have ever had before. The sugar cane is brought in from town. Tell them if you want 1′ or 4′. Again, I always paid since they went out of their way for me. The kids love chewing on that stuff! Anything else you want? Just ask!
SPECIAL PAINTINGS: Have a picture you would like painted in an oil painting? Take it with you and show it to them the first day you get there to ensure you give them enough time to do it. Be very clear on the size you want and the price you are willing to pay before you make the deal.
SIRENIS TROPICAL: Same resort, just on one side of the sidewalk and the Sirenis Cocotal is on the otherside of the sidewalk. However, if you are going to book, try for the Tropical because they are suites rather than rooms for what seems to be the same price. Also mini bar is apprently stocked with rum as well, and includes a bathrobe and a few other goodies. Found this out the last day we were there.
AIRPORT FOOD: Expensive! $7US for a Wendy’s small combo. $3US for a large muffin. I suggest taking zip lock bags with you and making yourself a little picnic for the airport if you are between meals with your flights. I’d also make sure you let the staff know what you are doing so they don’t think you are hording.
WOULD WE GO BACK?: In a heart beat and in fact, I’m looking into March 1, 2007 right now to surprise my mom, dad and mother-in-law with a trip! Will I eat as much as I did last week? NOPE! Apparently my bikini had too much stretch to it and I didn’t feel myself growing into a beached whale. Harder to lose than it was to find. 🙂
Take care and happy resorting! Thanks for this wonderful service Debbie.