Dominican Republic Holiday Review
Submitted by: G. Walker - Birmingham
Date: 20 August 2002
On 1st July this year, we flew from Manchester to Puerto Plata, just 4 days after my Graduation Ceremony, for the holiday of a lifetime. From the moment we arrived we fell in love with the Dominican Republic, its people and it's cultures.
Now you may wonder how two students can afford such an apparently extravagant holiday...well, we got a wonderful deal with Global Holidays in which we booked our holiday but didn't know which of the three Riu hotels near Puerto Plata we would be staying in, until we landed. This knocked about £500 each off our All Inclusive holiday price, and made our holiday a much better deal than many of the packages to Europe in July.
We ended up in the brand new Riu Bachata hotel...and I would recommend this hotel and it's two sisters Merengue and Mamba to anyone considering the North coast. The three hotels are situated in their own complex along a 1/2 mile stretch of whitesand/blue sea beach. Everything you could possibly need for your two weeks are on your doorstep and you don't need to leave the complex...I have heard of people who have visited Dom and felt confined and restricted, but there were no such feelings in our resort. There are many bars, with alcoholic and soft drinks included in the All In package, a snack bar open virtually all the time, a magnificent buffet restaurant and several Ala Carte restaurants. There is also a sports beach, table tennis, tennis courts and many other activities organised daily such as aqua aerobics and volleyball.
For the whole two weeks we lived like royalty. Food was spectacular, always of the highest quality and with such huge variety...I was a bit concerned that without a great choice in restaurants, we would become bored with the food but every second day there was a theme for the evening meal, for example Mexican or Italian in which some speciality food was served (with a Dominican twist!!) as well as all the usual cooked dishes, salads, pastas and traditional dishes. And you could visit each of the three Ala Carte Restaurants once a week provided you book in the morning. For breakfast, you can have everything from yoghurt with bananas to pancakes, bread and cheese to full English, local fresh fruits and freshly squeezed fruit juice to corn flakes. And a similar range was available at lunchtime. As you may have guessed, I was very impressed with the food!
As the hotel was brand new, all the facilities were fabulous and the complex spotless...but I got the impression that this was standard across all three hotels. The staff were superbly helpful and friendly...even the gardeners who speak no English. It's worth remembering that these people don't get paid a lot, and have no government financial help so tips are extremely welcome and usually well deserved.
During our trip, we participated in 2 trips. The first was "Get Wet", white water rafting, booked through our Thompson rep, and I can safely say this was the most fun I've ever had. The trip cost £70, which we considered quite expensive, but well worth it (and we didn't mind as we were celebrating our 3rd anniversary together!). The trip began with a 2-hour bus trip to the middle of the island, to the "Dominican Alps". Our tour guide was a local man, studying law at the University and working during the week to pay his tuition so he was very knowledgeable and had lots of anecdotes about the landmarks and we learned a lot about the culture and history of the country and it's neighbour Haiti. This was an unexpected bonus! When we arrived we had breakfast in the ranch and then were kitted out with our wet suits and set off. In our raft, there was Ross and I and another youngish couple and two mental guides. If you go and are after a bit of extra adventure, ask for Danny. I was worried about falling in so to settle my nerves, Danny threw me in (at a very safe and quiet part of the river!)...and yes, it did calm me down. In total we were on the river for about 2 hours and stopped half way for lunch. Many of the local children came out of the shack-house to splash us...this highlighted the poverty in the country and reminded us all of how privileged we are.
Our other trip was a snorkelling trip organised by "Scuba Cariba", the water sports company based on our beach. We had an hours speed boat trip to Soshoua Bay for about 1 1/2 hours snorkelling at two different coral reefs. That only cost £30 but was superb. If you want to Scuba Dive, it costs a fortune so don't go to Sousoua cos you see the same as the snorkellers, but you are a bit deeper! NB - Don't drink too much of the rum from your free mini bar the night before the speedboat!!!
I can only describe this holiday as perfect...not only was it a typical beach holiday with no financial restrictions (normally Ross and I constantly budget on holiday!), but it was an adventure holiday and also a cultural experience. Basically whatever you want from your holiday to the Dominican Republic, you can do it. And one other thing I noted, despite it being a Developing Country plagued by poverty (something that very much worried my mum), I felt much safer there than I have done on previous European package holidays; I found safety standards (especially in respect to water sports) much greater than that on any of the holiday resorts in Europe I have visited.
Although we were some of the youngest people there, this complex (and whole island) can be the perfect holiday destination for couples of all ages, families and groups of friends...go for it!
PS - Oh, and the weather was fantastic (sunny and 35C each day) even in the "rainy" season of July!
Note from Global Holidays:
We can offer you a fantastic range of hotels in the Dominican Republic. Click this link for all the latest last minute Dominican Republic holiday bargains from Global Holidays.
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