Vacations to Dominican Republic

Just Back From: Dominican RepublicThere's no such thing as too much blue.

Just back from: Casa Colonial, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.

Was it your first time? Yes.

How long were you there? Six days.

Why did you go? We wanted to try something different in the Caribbean that had multiple flights daily and easy access from New York and Florida. We also wanted something for just six days, as opposed to the typical ten-day mandatory stay at holiday time. Casa Colonial was completely flexible about our length of stay.

Who were you with? My family (husband and two kids) and my parents.

What was the best tip you got before you left? My dental hygienist warned me not to go off-campus in this part of the DR. Sage advice. While not dangerous, it also wasn't too atmospheric outside of the hotel grounds.

What's the #1 tip you'd give a friend who wanted to go? Don't go off-campus, but do make a trip to the massive supermercado to score everything from snacks to Zithromax on aisle 1. The whole experience is just crazy and worth the trip. Note: You have to bring ID to buy anything with credit or debit cards. They check.

What did you do? We ate every meal outside and, in between, lounged on minimalist, tasteful loungers at the second-floor pool overlooking the ocean. This was interpersed with golf, tennis, a snorkeling trip, visits to the gym (the treadmills had CNN on loop), lots of reading, card playing, and just generally catching up with one another. Really interesting clientele at Casa Colonial — largely gay, a few older kids, and nary a person from the New York tri-state area. All in, refreshingly low-key.

Were you there for the right amount of time? Possibly a day too long. We tend to max out at five days of strong sun, but it was a great break nonetheless.

This was especially great: The service at the hotel. Everyone — from the waiters to the housekeepers to the concierge — tries really, really hard to please. Beds are made first thing in the morning; everyone smiles. Sometimes they misfire, but I'm all about an A for effort. Casa Colonial wants to keep customers happy, and the staff was terrific with my 9- and 10-year-old and worked with them on their Spanish words.

But this wasn't: Local vendors practically accost you on the beach selling everything from booze to jewelry to hair-braiding services.

Speed round of favorites:
Meal: Grilled local lobster tail in the main restaurant, Lucia.

Neighborhood to explore: N/a. Don't do it.

Thing you did: That supermarket comes pretty close. Weird, plentiful, serious local color.

Casual hangout: Lunch by the pool. Just six shaded tables with the best chopped salad I've had since the Ivy in LA.

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