Dominican Republic All Inclusive family Resorts
By Samantha Chapnick
My family picked in the Dominican Republic for our spring break for four reasons :
- We could stick to our budget with no real opportunity to spend more than we set aside.
- It's a simple short, affordable, non-stop, no jet lag, JetBlue plane trip from NYC with few delays or complications.
- Unlike several tropical islands, the DR has walking beaches, not just coves.
- Almost all the all-inclusive resorts have kids programs and activities.
After 11 days, 6 tours, and 4 hotels, 33 meals, 7 kids events and I'm not going to tell you how many pina coladas, this is the round-up of our in Punta Cana:
Punta Cana is ideal for travelers who want an all-inclusive vacation and are willing to trade their Crackberries for cocktails, marble bathrooms for beach walks and Whole Foods for watersports.
To continue the alliterations, Punta Cana is more about interaction than intimacy. It's a stretch of continuous beach on the Dominican Republic's northeastern coast, with 20+ two- to five-story all-inclusive hotels lined up one next to the other. Lush with palm trees and other verdant foliage, for the most part you won't notice there are other properties until you walk on the soft pink sand beach (my favorite feature of this area). Hundreds of plastic lounge chairs continue for miles, fostering a very social environment. Guests revel in the chance to meet others and play together — fueled by the non-stop entertainment schedule. With water aerobics, ping pong tournaments, Salsa lessons, beach drumming, kids and adult discos and shows, boredom is not an option here.
The entertainment staff is a second major asset. Extremely friendly, outgoing, helpful and energetic — everyone we encountered at every resort was naturally ebullient, professional and dedicated to making sure visitors had a great time.
I think the resorts expect most people to spend their all-inclusive vacation lounging around the pool or beach, and they have invested the most heavily in those areas. There are plenty of loungers, the pools are huge (albeit UNHEATED), the ocean is crystal clear, and there are plenty of people walking around offering drinks (except at Club Med where there is no pool staff at all except lifeguards).
I think a non-foodie would find the meals to be just fine. At all the resorts we visited during our Caribbean vacation, there was plenty of variety, the food was relatively fresh, and perfectly acceptable. Most offer "gourmet" restaurant options, but beware: there seemed to me to be a system designed to make sure that we didn't eat at most of them. Compared to the gargantuan buffets where everyone can eat at any time, the 30- or 40-seat specialty restaurants are teeny — and they usually only allow one seating.
The gourmet restaurants are, in general, a modicum better than the buffet. In general, I'd say unless food is very important to you, simply avoid the hassle and go the buffet for your stay. I would suggest that those who want to go down the gourmet path should find out what the policy is for each restaurant IN ADVANCE. Most require showing up at 8:15 a.m. when reservations open to book it for that night. We felt the Iberostar has the best policy: they allow you book a certain number of gourmet restaurants based upon the number of nights of your stay, and it was easy to get a table. And Club Med, with the best all around food, only has buffet restaurants, so they are a good choice as well.
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