We spent one week at Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic at an all-inclusive hotel. In general we were pleased and enjoyed it. We went to the IFA Villas Bavaro Resort and Spa from January 11-18 flying directly there from the Kitchener Waterloo airport. Getting there and back with Sunwing Airlines was anything but pleasant but our stay was good.
The hotel is beautiful, the weather was glorious, the food was plentiful as were the drinks and we enjoyed ourselves. The best part was the weather. Every day was sunny and warm with the occasional shower. The humidity was high and we found that the clothing we put in drawers became damp but this wasn’t a problem. We were lucky to be put in a nice room facing away from the pool which was busy and noisy. Our balcony looked on a green space and although there was construction nearby seven days a week, it was off in the distance and other than a few trucks going by, it didn’t bother us. We were grateful that we were not close to the theatre as it was extremely loud beyond the threshold of pain and had absolutely the worst excuse for entertainment that we have ever encountered.
We found the staff to be consistently friendly, pleasant and helpful. Spanish is their first language but most of them are multi-lingual. The waiters and waitresses in the main dining room were always smiling, singing and professional. Although we are comfortable in Spanish no one should run into problems anywhere.
We were surprised to find that most of the guests didn’t do anything or go anywhere. Most of them simply lay on the sun beds and worked on their tans. Very few of them read or talked to anyone. The beach was a good 10 minutes away but the hotel provided a continual shuttle service there and back. The beach was broad with lots and lots of free sun beds and had fine pure white sand. Again, most people just lay about like zombies. There were the usual selection of party boats complete with loud jazz and tipsy drunks.
It was always interesting to watch the people. There were smokers everywhere and ash trays were on every table in every restaurant and bar. The shapes and sizes of people and bathing suits were varied and interesting as were the huge number of tattoos sported by the majority of guests. There were thousands of dollars in ink on most people.
We found very little to do at the hotel or on the island. The hotel says that it offers four specialty restaurants but really has only three. We ate at each of them and found that the menus were unusual but that the food left a lot to be desired and was far below expectations. Although drinks were free elsewhere, this didn’t apply in these restaurants. The hotel offers many excursions but we found them to be very high priced. We had booked a Segway eco tour before we came and it was a well done highlight which took us by Segway to beaches, through the jungle and for a swim at a crystal clear fresh water pool. We also took the shuttle buses to two local malls. The first was a free trip to the Plaza Real Mall about 20 minutes away. It was modern, small but interesting. We also went to the San Juan Mall which was closer and larger but we were very annoyed to find that we were charged $6 per person to get there and back.
If you go.
- Take lots of sunscreen and a hat.
- Take insect repellant. There are lots of mosquitos.
- Take reading material. Our hotel did not have a library.
- Beware of the bottled rum. Some of it isn’t as advertised.
- Be prepared to bargain for everything everywhere and do not pay the asking price.
- There is little or nothing to buy here.
- There is no place to go outside the hotel except for pricey tours.
- Be prepared to pay $10 US per person to get into the country and $20 per person regardless of age to get out of the country. This was an annoying rip off.
- Be very careful walking on the marble floors and walkways. They are extremely slippery when wet.
- Take lots of US money. It is accepted everywhere.
- Vanilla is a great bargain, but costs $15 at the hotel and $1 in the supermarkets.
- Don’t count on free Wi-Fi to be available. It existed only in one area of our hotel and it was intermittent and absent many times.