We just came back from the Dominican, and I’m writing about it a few days later…while everything is still fresh in my mind.
So, we took both of our kids again (3.5-yr old, and 1.5-yr old), and the best part about getting there was – the direct flights! I think we’ll try to get direct flights every time we go somewhere (if we can) because no matter how bad the kids get on the plane, you KNOW you’ll be landing soon and there will be no more flights. Of course we got nasty looks from other passenger (as soon as we got on the plane), but we’ve learned to ignore those and not let them spoil our trip. Luckily, both kids took naps while in the air, and when they didn’t sleep – we had books and coloring activities to keep them occupied until we landed.
As we have learned from our Costa Rica trip – when traveling with kids it is best NOT to have to drive around looking for a place to eat; now, empowered with this knowledge – we chose to stay at Catalonia Bavaro in Punta Cana, which is an all-inclusive resort, AND it also had a kids club on site which made it even better. The resort was only 20-25 minutes from the airport, which was awesome because any longer than that and the kids would get overtired (those that have kids know exactly what that means). It is listed as a 4-star resort on tripadvisor.com, which I think is pretty accurate. The main features that we liked about the resort were: the layout (the beach is a short walk from the main lobby, with cafes and restaurants along the way); the kids club – which included a baby pool, play area with swings and a room with a lot of art-related toys and art items to play with inside; and the best part: every room had a hammock on the balcony!
The resort also has a Casino on site, and a golf course, for those who like golfing and/or trying their luck (aka wasting their money).
The weather stayed in the mid-80s, with only one passing shower on the 1st day, which actually felt refreshing (meanwhile our friends and relatives were building snow men during a freak snow storm in Charlotte). The ocean water – amazing! The only downside of the ocean was that there was some sea weed floating in the water, but the hotel staff were removing the sea weed from the water, as well as off the beach, every day. Side note about the staff: most of them speak 4 languages: French, Russian, English and Spanish! During our stay, we found out that most travelers staying there are usually Russian or French-speaking (we barely saw any Americans there, which was surprising), so of course it is in the hotel’s best interest to teach the staff Russian and French to be able to communicate with the tourists.
While in the Dominican, we did not take any excursions, as this trip was intended for relaxation only, and we did not want to overwhelm the kids with more driving and extra activities. Nonetheless, between meal times, beach time, nap times and games of Pétanque, the days went by fast and before we knew it: we had to pack our bags to go home. Overall, we enjoyed staying at this resort, and would definitely stay there again if we ever go back to Punta Cana.