My bucket list is a kind of length that has me searching travel sites for anything and everything. When we booked our summer vacation, the one thing we did know was that we wanted a chilled holiday. We didn’t want one of the trips that you return from and need another holiday to get over it.
We eventually found a deal that we loved the look of on Secret Escapes. An all-inclusive package holiday to the Be Live resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. We stayed in one of their Master Suites which was absolutely beautiful. This option automatically allows a $200 resort credit (for bookings 5+ nights). One, rather large, gated complex hosts both the adults only and normal hotels. In it are stores, restaurants, a spa, and a casino nightclub.
Overall we had a wonderful time on a beautiful resort. However, there are a few things I wish I’d have known and been prepared for.
THE RESORT IS FAIRLY NEW
Which is great because everywhere is modern and up to date. However, while we were there they were carrying out works which meant that some areas (including our room at various points throughout the day) were off limits if you actually wanted to relax. It also meant that very few of the staff didn’t really seem to know what they were doing.
THE STAFF WAGES AREN’T GREAT
Which means that they rely on tips. On long stay holidays abroad we’ve always tipped particularly pleasant or helpful members of staff. In the Dominican it seemed that staff only go the extra mile once they’ve already been tipped and not vice versa. I don’t have a huge problem with this as a principle. However, the Be Live had so many staff that it was impossible to tip everyone. The best advice I can give is to single out and slowly but steadily tip the members of staff who you encounter the most.
YOU NEED TO CLARIFY EVERYTHING AT THE BEGINNING
We had a really helpful member of staff assigned to be our point of contact. Problem was, he left mid-stay and we then had to rely on general staff. We were advised that the a la carte restaurants needed to be individually booked on the day, which was a slight inconvenience. However, we weren’t advised that there were various exceptions to this rule. Certain restaurants were closed on select days, so bad communication saw us leaving without having tried around half of the restaurants. We were also a little disappointed to find that certain menus weren’t actually included in the all inclusive. It didn’t affect us, but we weren’t overly impressed by the principle.
THE CHOICE OF FOOD
In the past, Jamie and I have gotten quite bored of limited all inclusive selections. Be Live has six a la carte restaurants as well as two buffet style restaurants and two lunch and snack stops. The lunch selection is naturally more limited than dinner, but almost every day we went to the little bar right on the beach. We tipped the server there well and he couldn’t do more for us. We visited the Mexican, Brazilian and Steak House for evening meals and the food was brilliant at all three, although the Steak House was the only one with service worth tipping. $100 of our resort credit we allocated to one of their four course romantic meals on the beach which was brilliant.
Although the normal hotel is lovely for a family, the adults-only hotel is definitely the one to book if you’re not attending with children. Not only is it generally much quieter on the beach, but it allows you access to the whole resort, leaving more options in terms of pools, beach space and restaurants to choose from.
The hotel itself was beautiful. Everywhere was clean and the pools were lovely. The beach front was full of various sun loungers and cabanas and the resort offered all you could really want. The rest of our room credit was spent in the spa, which I’d also highly recommend.
THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
I don’t want to say too much about the area itself but our personal feelings are that we didn’t feel as safe here as we did in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. A lot of people urged us to stay within the resort and with the exception of walking a very short distance to an ATM, we did. Despite advise from locals that tourist areas like Punta Cana were safe, advice to the contrary did unease us slightly.
Before our trip we were slightly worried that the weather forecast storms almost every day. Despite arriving to rain, we enjoyed clear skies and strong sun for the vast majority of our stay. We took three bottles of suncream but were forced to spend another $100 on more while we were there. I’d highly recommend taking as much as possible alongside aftersun, mosquito repellant and bite relief.
The internet advises that the Dominican will accept euro, peso and the US dollar but we found that the US dollar was by far the most favoured.
The Dominican beaches certainly aren’t lacking in sales people, for tours or anything else. However, we followed suit of another couple we met and booked online with SeaVIS tours, an eco-tour company. Essentially, we paid a higher price for a company that was conscious of protected animals and areas. The tour picked us up from our hotel for a speedboat excursion, stopping at the rocks of Penon, the sandbank; home of starfish, the mangroves, Catuano beach, Mano Juan village and finally, Canto de la Playa. Although the whole day was fantastic, as was our tour guide, we were united in wishing that we’d had more time at Canto de la Playa. Earlier stops definitely could have been easily shortened to enable this. Canto de la Playa truly was paradise; white sand, perfect palm trees and snorkelling for tropical fish.
I’d definitely recommend the Dominican Republic for resort holidays. Excursions make resort holidays a little more exciting and Saona Island is definitely somewhere worth seeing with your own eyes. Punta Cana is warm all year but the rainy months are September, October and May so those might be worth avoiding: We travelled early June and were more than happy with the weather.