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The Dominican Republic is the most visited Caribbean island and the third most visited country in Latin America. These statistics were surprising to us as we explored the Dominican Republic. Despite staying in some of the so called big tourist towns, we really didn’t see that many tourists. This is because most people that come to the Dominican Republic stay in an all inclusive resort.
We have never stayed in an all inclusive resort before. In fact, I have not even come across one. They do not seem to be common in the part of the world that we are from. I liked the idea of them though. We loved our cruise, in part because it made family travel just so easy to have readily available food. We figured this would also be the plus of an all inclusive resort. Plus, unlike the cruise, alcohol is also included. That sounded fun too!
Given that the idea appealed, that we like trying new things and that we were visiting a country that is a mecca of all inclusive resorts, it seemed like now was the perfect time to try one. Besides which, how can I give all the followers of this website a full overview of what it is like to visit the Dominican Republic without trying one of its most popular attractions?!
Next to Puerto Plata, there is an enclave of all inclusive resorts at Playa Dorada and Costa Dorada (adjacent beaches). Since this was convenient for us in Cabarete, this is where we headed for two nights at the end of our stay in the Dominican Republic.
Here are our experiences!
We stayed at a 4 star resort that was one of the cheaper all inclusive, but still got great reviews. It is in a great location on Costa Dorada beach
There is one of the biggest pools I have seen at this hotel. It is lagoon style with beach style entries which was fabulous for the kids. There are five different eating establishments, all of which serve drinks, as well as a pool bar. There is a kids club with a kids pool which didn’t care for kids as young as ours, but we were able to go there and use the facilities whenever we wanted. There is a casino, nightclub, shopping centre, gym, theatre, day spa, activities, shops… It is like a little village. It felt a bit overwhelming when we first arrived, but it really wasn’t that big.
There were many blocks of rooms. We were lucky enough to get one on the side of the resort right by the beach. So great views, not far from anything, but away from any noise.
I was surprised when I saw our room. I had expected a small plain room, but our room was quite spacious and quite nice. I had forgotten I had decided to pay the extra $10 for a beach view, and it was worth it!
We had two queen size beds, and plenty of furniture as well and a table and chairs on our balcony. We even had a spa bath! The room was a bit ruined by a slight mold smell from the air conditioning and plugs that didn’t work properly in the bath and washbasin, but otherwise we were very happy.
The minibar was included which I found quite exciting, but it was a bit of a non event. It only contained one coke and two light beers. I thought they could have included at least 4 drinks with 4 people staying in the room.
The room had a door to the room next door which was annoying as it did not block sound at all. We could hear them talking or watching tv. They were quiet so this wasn’t much of a problem for us, but I don’t imagine it was much fun for them with the numerous times Z was waking at night during our stay.
I was surprised by just how good the food was. After the cruise, I guess I expected any included food place to not be very good.
At the resort, there were four restaurants and a snack bar. The snack bar is open most of the time with an adjacent bar right on the beach. One of the restaurants is open at all meal times and is buffet style. They have a different theme for dinner and it is very good. We went to a Spanish theme dinner with lots of tapas, and it was great!
The other restaurants are Brazilian, Mexican and gourmet and only open for dinner. We only had the chance to try Brazilian and it was fantastic! There was a buffet of salads, vegetables, desserts and many other dishes. There was also a Brazilian BBQ of 7 different types of meat. On the table, there was a round disk. When you wanted them to bring you more meat, you turned it round so it said “GO”. When you had enough, you turned it back to “STOP”. It worked well and it was delicious, especially with the house wine which was flowing freely.
The only problem with the food here is that the three evening restaurants required reservations and these were difficult to obtain. You could only book between 9am – 1pm. On our first day, we arrived just before 1pm and they were all booked so we couldn’t go to one. On the second day, J went there at 9:05am. He had to line up for twenty minutes and only just got us a booking. This process was ridiculous.
The kids loved it. How could they not? The best pool they have ever seen, a beach outside of our window, a kids club and yummy food and drinks everywhere. S even had a couple of kiddy cocktails! There were a few other kids around and S made some friends too.
We loved our stay here. It is one of the most impressive places I have stayed. We would stay here again, BUT there were minor problems which annoyed me. I probably wouldn’t have cared if we were paying less money, but for over US$200 a night, the plug should work in our bathroom and we should be able to book a restaurant table. We also were annoyed when other guests were often allowed to squish in front of us to get service. It annoys me when people can be so rude when we have young kids with us – someone did it on check in when Z was screaming his head off and we had already been waiting twenty minutes. The staff should have stopped it.
It was also impossible to get any shaded pool space since people left their towels on seats all day. The activites seemed haphazard. The activities for the day would be up on a notice board but most of them did not have times, so it made it close to impossible to go to them.
These sort of things make it hard for me to recommend this place for families. Generally, we have found people in the Dominican Republic to be very friendly and helpful towards out kids. It was not the case here and it made life difficult at times. Just little things, like when I went to the breakfast buffet alone with the kids, and the staff seated people in the line behind me first and then put us far away from the food. This made things harder than they had to be (how am I supposed to get food for us if I have to walk far away from the kids and out of eye sight to get it?). The majority of people here seemed to be couples and I am sure five years ago, we would have found this place perfect.
We did enjoy the all inclusive experience – the food was delicious and it is so nice to not always be worrying about where the next meal or snack will come from. It is nice to leave our room without a backpack full of snacks and water! Our kids eat five times a day so this really does make life so much easier. J and I enjoyed many yummy pina coladas. Waiters were constantly filling our glasses with wine at dinner. Some more drinks in our mini bar would have been nice, but otherwise I have no complaints about this side of it apart from the difficulty getting a dinner reservation.
Would we stay at an all inclusive resort again? Definitely!
Be live Grand Marien about US$220 a night for a beach view room. Click here for the latest prices. We didn’t pay a cent more for anything. If we had wanted to use internet, it was a whopping $25 for 25 hours. From Cabarete, it was about a 45 minute taxi ride. It is on the outskirts of Puero Plata
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