If you have been around BGWB for sometime you may recall my family cruise some years back or my group trip to Aruba. Welp we did it again, this time with a group of twenty-two people to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. It was a week vacation on an all inclusive resort. Lots of fun and life long memories. Check out my Punta Cana Recap below!
When I travel out of the country one of my goals is try to get an authentic experience of the culture. I look for historical sites, popular food or drink and other traditions. If you are a traveler like me, be mindful that you might not get those experiences in Punta Cana. When we arrived, I kept being like this place feels like the Truman show! Everything is a resort made to cater to American and European tourists. A little research once I got home uncovered that my assessment was correct. Punta Cana was the brainchild of entrepreneurs in the late 60s.
It’s genius though. The resorts are beautiful and there to cater to all of your needs. They also have beautiful beaches. But everything from the excursions to the shopping are all things that were made for tourists as opposed to an area that was used by locals originally that tourists began visiting. And this is not intended to be shade to Punta Cana at all. These types of resorts serve their purposes and are great for groups the size of mine, however I cannot point a distinct experience that I could only get in Dominican Republic.
We stayed at the Iberostar Grand Bavaro. There are a couple of Iberostar hotels all on the same property, but as the name implies the GRAND Bavaro is the nicest one. As an all inclusive adults only resort, once you enter the property pretty much everything is included in your room rate, from food, tips, to the mini bar, to alcohol beverages and so much more. Since you are at the top resort in the Iberostar family, you can also visit the other properties. We rode a golf cart over to the casino at the other property for example.
The big draws for this resort would be there large pool with tons of cabanas that do not require reservations. The property is also beachfront and only a short walk to the beach. There, you will also find plenty of chairs and umbrellas and it is also serviced by the hotel bar staff.
The service is excellent as one would expect. Although tips were included, we made a point to tip throughout the week particularly because our large group took additional accommodating which many gladly did. For your stay you also have a butler who helps coordinate your dinner reservations and assists with all of your needs throughout your stay. The butler service really sets this experience apart from a typical hotel.
The Food and Drinks
With the all inclusive resort we had access to seven restaurants, two of which were buffets, and 24 hour room service. We only ate at the resort. When I did a bit of research on other restaurants around Punta Cana they did not seem super impressive and the ones that were, were on other resorts which are not easy to visit. So we decided that eating the food at the resort, which we had already paid for was for the best.
During my visit I ate breakfast at the buffet daily. It was good to start, but by day five it felt pretty redundant. The lunch buffet was near the pool area with a great indoor/outdoor setup. Between the grill and the other hot dishes, there seemed to be more variety there. Then dinner included a Japanese restaurant, surf & turf, a Dominican buffet, Mediterranean food and Italian. For the most part the food was good. Well seasoned and great portions. I can’t say that any of the food was best thing I’ve ever eaten, but they definitely put effort into the dishes they made which I appreciated.
Drinks were also included and were hit and miss for the most part. We figured out the good bars and bartenders halfway through our stay though and stayed there. They served us their own unique cocktails and mamajuana, a popular Dominican drink.
The resort had typical cruise type entertainment with shows at night, dancing classes, live music, yoga classes and bingo. We took part in some,but for the most part we spent most of our time at the resort at the pool or the private beach. At night time, we headed to the boat on property which doubled as a club. We had a great time dancing and doing karaoke.
Our first excursion is was a spa boat hosted by Ocean Adventure. The excursion included a fish spa, pilates, a massage and body scrub all while out in the ocean. I loved it! Next we did a party boat and since there were 22 of us, we got a private boat. It was a great excursion however, motion sickness runs in our family so towards the end of that excursion we were out for the count and had to return back. I would still recommend doing a party boat!
I declined on the zip line and buggy excursion because just before the trip I saw a video of a Punta Cana buggy excursion gone wrong. The girl in the video was covered from head to toe in mud. Not my kind of party. For the most part those who did attend that excursion were unimpressed. They likened it to an amusement park rather than an experience in the forest or jungle.
Punta Cana is likely a one and done trip for me. I cannot point to anything really distinct or unique about Punta Cana that makes it worth coming back for. If you must go, I would recommend trying to go to Santo Domingo during your visit so you can get off the resort and get a taste of Dominican culture and people.
Be sure to check out my IG reels from the trip too!