Aging Expectations

All-Inclusive, Punta Cana

What’s better than the beach?

Every year in New Jersey, teachers go to a convention on Thursday and Friday of the first week in November. They don’t all go to the convention (I’m not really sure what they do) but all the schools close.

This is a great opportunity for my son and me to sneak away for a long weekend. I’m so lucky to spend time away with just one child at a time (big shout out to my awesome husband). Last year, we went to Puerto Rico. The year before we went to Las Vegas (read the story before you judge). This year we chose…

Punta Cana.

Most of the resorts there are all-inclusive, which works just fine for this trip. We choose Larimar because we liked the online pictures better and the TripAdvisor reviews were pretty good.

Here are our general thoughts on the overall trip:

Entrance Fee 

There is an entrance fee upon arrival to the Dominican Republic. It’s $10 per person. You have to pay that fee as soon as you get off the airplane. So have your cash ready.

Car Service

We were quick to get through the small airport, mainly because we didn’t have any checked bags and I think everyone else did. We found our car service quickly and got right out to the van. We were ready…to…

Wait.

Yep, we had to wait for another couple, who weren’t even on our flight. About 30 minutes later, they arrived to the car. The worst part was the driver wasn’t even updating us or talking to us. It wasn’t very welcoming.

Preferred Status

We had what they call preferred status at the resort. What does that mean? Turns out, not much. Here’s what it includes:

  • Private Preferred Club Lounge:  This included snacks, two computers and hosts. The snacks were fine, when we tried to use one of the computers, it was broken, and the service was not so helpful.
  • Private Pools:  Access to separate pools was nice but not really needed. If it were a busier season, it may have been worth it.
  • Exterior Jacuzzi:  This was more like a bathtub with jets on the patio right outside of the room. We were on the first floor so it wasn’t very private. I didn’t see anyone using theirs and quite honestly, I would have thought it weird to use it or even to see people using it.
  • Bathroom with double sink and upgraded bath amenities:  Okay, I know I’m spoiled but I don’t consider double sinks part of a “preferred” status. And, if those bath amenities were upgraded I feel so sorry for people not in the preferred area. They may have to use dish soap as shampoo.
  • Pillow menu:  Not only did I not see a pillow menu, we only had three pillows. Normally, there are four – nope only three for our “preferred” room. I’m really not complaining but if you’re going to make a big deal about a pillow menu, you open yourself up for criticism.
  • Upgraded mini-bar and room service menu:  We did actually use room service and it was very good and quick. Also, they provided a free bottle of rum, which I don’t think other rooms received. We didn’t drink ours and couldn’t take it home. It was an all-inclusive so I’m not sure why we really needed it.
  • Personalized check-in and check-out:  We did receive this but was it an upgrade? When we checked in there was no line in the lobby so I’m not sure it would have mattered. When we checked out, there was a line in the lobby and in the preferred area.
A wonderful stranger gave us their dinner reservation.

Service

The service wasn’t bad, it was fine. My son and I concluded that the staff does exactly what they have to do. They don’t go the extra step in any regard. If you ask for something, they give it to you.

For example, you have to make reservations at a few of the restaurants. I asked our “preferred host” for a reservation on Friday night at the Japanese place in the hibachi area (where you can watch them cook).

Nope, not available.

Okay, how about Saturday.

Nope, not available.

Okay, then, that’s it – we’re not going because we aren’t staying longer.

Shrug.

How about checking the regular seating area? How about suggesting an alternate restaurant? How about putting us on a wait list? Nope. He only did exactly what I asked.

No extra smiles, no extra help…fine.

Food / Drinks

The food is fine too. If you have a sweet tooth, this is not the place for you. I added drinks too because all drinks are included. They make some strong alcoholic drinks, which you may like!

What I missed was the non-alcoholic drinks (I am traveling with a 14 year-old). We could not get a menu (even when we asked). On the last night we found a menu. My son picked a drink and I ordered it.

Nope, they aren’t serving that today.

Okay, then.

Did he suggest an alternative? I think you know the answer to that but I’ll tell you anyway – no.

Internet Service

Stinks.

With our preferred status, we received free internet service. I’d spend 10 minutes trying to get online with no luck – then finally have success. I’d have to quickly send an email to my husband before it kicked me off. I was maybe able to spend a total of 10 minutes online.

Pools and Beaches

The pools were great. There were quite a few, clean, and very nice.The beach was (by far) the best part! And, one of the nicest beaches I’ve visited. The sand is soft and white…really just perfect. The water was warm (a little seaweed) and great for swimming.

Entertainment

They did have entertainment throughout the afternoon and night. And, it was entertaining! Not the best shows I’ve ever seen but lots of fun!

Flower right outside our room.

I had to add this because at Larimar, they will ask you “How are you?” and you say good or bien.

No, not good enough.

They won’t stop asking you until you say, “Excelente” – cute but it seemed they were trying too hard. I was good but I really wasn’t excelente and just because you make me say it doesn’t make it true.

Airport

You have to arrive at the airport three hours ahead of your flight time. Be ready to wait and be bored. The airport is not that big. They do have a pretty big food area and a few stores.

Also note, the flights on the way home do not have refrigerated food available. So, when they say bring something on board if you’re hungry, do it. You can still purchase the regular snacks but none of the larger type meals.

Matt and me 🙂

The Larimar was fine. Our overall experience was great. We got to spend a lot of quality time together in a warm, beautiful destination. It’s really what you make it and I can say, we made the most of it.

Have you been to Punta Cana? What did you think?

l

2 comments

  1. Hey Ronnie! Love the new site…it looks really great. Guy and I went to Punta Cana about 10 years ago and stayed at an Iberostar all inclusive. Our room was beautiful but I agree that the staff was not helpful and the food just ok. Beaches were super nice – I guess that’s the big draw. Love the picture of you and Matt. I have to find the picture of him and Jake together as infants.

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