Saturday, 11 May 2013

Guest Travel Blog - Punta Cana, Dominican Republic by Laraine Drage.

Welcome to another Guest Blogger, Laraine, who through her love of travel has been to some of the most beautiful places in the world. She would like to share with you all, her trip to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, where she stayed in different hotels and had some wonderful travel experiences.

Welcome Laraine.

Getting there.

Punta Cana Dominican Republic
"We travelled in style with BA in club class. We checked in smoothly and were fast tracked through to the club lounge where we enjoyed a light sanck and drinks before boarding our flight to Punta Cana via Antigua. On arrival we were again fast tracked through immigration and collected our luggage on were soon on our way to our first hotel.

The hotels.

We spent the first two nights at the Hard Rock Hotel in Punta Cana, only a short distance from the airport which is good after a long flight. A huge hotel with everything you would wish for. It was so big it was like being in a shopping mall, there are 8 a la carte restaurants, 4 swim up bars in 11 pools, a casino, a nightclub and every room has a Jacuzzi.

We were entertained the following night at the Dreams La Romana which is beautiful and much more my style of hotel. Again the hotel is only a short distance from the airport and on arrival they greet you with welcoming cool towels and a local drink. No need for wrist bands here, they whisk you through check in and straight to your rooms with all your luxuries there. If you have forgotten any of your bathroom essentials you need not worry as they have thought of everything. Room service is 24/7 (like most of the hotels in the Dominican that are all inclusive) and if your favourite tipple is champagne they will replenish your fridge daily with it.    

The next day we had lunch at the Zoetry Agua which was calming and gentile, then onto the Hostal Nicolas de Ovando in Santo Domingo for our overnight city stay.
Hostal Nicolas de Ovando
This hotel is an old colonial style property which is almost reminiscent of staying in a museum. The rooms are spacious and very minimalist. Breakfast is served in a pretty courtyard and there is a rooftop pool.  We made our way back from the capital and stopped off overnight at the Now Larimar. This hotel looked lovely, but we were told that we had been upgraded to the Secrets Palm Beach  The hotel is on another beautiful beach with plenty of sun beds and an abundance of restaurants. No complaints here, we ate in the seafront ocean grill and were once again spoilt.

Finally we moved onto the Barcelo Bavaro Deluxe Palace for 2 nights. This hotel is again huge, very family orientated but has an adult's only section on the far side. There is an adult's only water park along with children's one so they don't feel left out, a 19 hole golf course and plenty of a la carte restaurants along with a casino and nightclub to keep you busy.   

Trip highlight.

Saona Island

There were so many highlights on the trip, but for me the boat trip to Saona Island was the best. We saw how the islanders still live and survive and how happy they are with life. We got to the island by speedboat, which was a challenge in itself especially if you know what I am like on water. We had a BBQ on the beach and even got to choose our own lobster before chilling in the sun.
We had the ultimate treat at the Hard Rock by having a session in the spa, we were able to experience the whole rock spa and hydrotherapy centre with its lagoons, whirlpools and colour therapy steam rooms. We used the clay steam room and relaxed in the sensory pool. Just what we needed after all of that hard work....... We also visited a sugar beet plantation and learnt how the sugar is extracted and used, along with a lesson in rolling a cigar in one of the factories.

Favourite hotel.

My favourite hotel has to be one that we didn't stay at but had lunch at. The Casa de Campo. I was amazed and would love to have had more time there. Lunch was lovely we ate down at the beach restaurant. There is a huge marina with a great choice of restaurants and the whole complex had a very pleasant feel to it.

The hotel that I most enjoyed staying overnight at has to be the Barcel√≥. The atmosphere is so laid back; it is big but not too big. The staff are attentative but not intrusive and the beach is out of this world.    

Santo Domingo
Most fun night.
This has to be the night in Santo Domingo. We went to the Colonial Zone and dance the merengue and bachata with the locals.
 A great evening was enjoyed by all. We felt safe with the locals and they were very welcoming and willing to teach us their dance moves.


Biggest surprise.

Having visited the island 25 years ago and not having the opportunity to visit since, I was really looking forward to seeing how and what had changed.
The island is still being developed and there are more and more hotels springing up on such beautiful beaches. These hotels are of such a good standard, you are totally spoilt by the facilities; the choice of restaurants and the service you experience. They are such good value for money and for me, the best I have seen in the Caribbean of late.  

There is still so much culture evident which is important as so many islands lose that with tourism. The locals are so welcoming and helpful and clearly love to speak and embrace you as a visitor to their island.  

Final thoughts.

I have totally been spoilt. I never dreamt that the island would be so impressive and so diverse. I have had to eat my words as I know for sure that in the past I have tried to switch sale clients to other islands for fear of them not enjoying the destination. I am happy to recommend it to families, couples, golfers, honeymooners and even backpackers that like to go off the beaten track. I shall be returning myself without a doubt very soon." 


To speak to Laraine about your travel desires (if you are in the UK) click here
Laraine is a self employed Travel Consultant for Travel Counsellors.