Last year, I surprised Selma with her graduation present – an all-inclusive trip to the Dominican Republic! Our good friends Samir and A-Wolf wanted to take a trip somewhere before graduation so this was the perfect opportunity to get away for a week before the craziness of relatives and real life descended upon us. Now if you know me, you know that I have to read every review and compare every website to find the best price before I make a decision on anything. So luckily for me, I had already finished classes by this point (and grad school is a joke). We searched for a few weeks to find the perfect place and after days upon days of research and comparing resorts, we finally decided on The Dreams La Romana in Bayahibe, DR. We went during May which is Hurricane season so we got an awesome deal on an all-inclusive package ($800 a person including flights for 5 days/4 nights)!
Tip # 1: For people looking into trips to the Caribbean, every place is practically the same. Just pick a place and find the best price to star-rating ratio. You won’t care/be able to tell where you are once you are relaxing on the beach.
I was going to wait until the week of the trip to surprise Selma but I remembered that she needed her passport from home so I had to break the news to her early. Needless to say, she was really excited. So after finishing my last grad school exam forever and Selma’s last undergrad final, we set off for a week of fun and relaxation in the sun.
From the moment we stepped onto the plane till the moment we landed, all we did was eat, drink, and sleep. All day every day. Needless to say I paid dearly for that the next few weeks back at Crossfit.
I also forgot how much I love jetBlue’s free snacks. I try to fly with them as frequently as possible solely based on the fact that they offer better snacks than any other airlines.
Selma was obviously laughing with me in this picture and not at me.
Now, had I known back then that I was going to be blogging this trip, I would have taken way more pictures but I can’t change the past now can I? After a short ~6 hour flight we finally arrived in Santo Domingo. However, the resort was still a $100, 1.5 hour cab ride away from the airport. Little did I know that there was an airport right in La Romana. That’s probably why the trip was so affordable. Nevertheless, we got a scenic view of the country side on our drive in to the resort. It mostly consisted of small rural towns and then massive Americanized resorts that catered to tourists. It was crazy how drastically different the resorts were to the actual country (not that shocking I know). I’m sure most people who live there haven’t actually seen the inside of the resorts unless they worked there. Sad.
Anyways, onto the non-depressing stuff. When we arrived, they welcomed us with glasses of cold champagne while we waited to check in. Our friend Samir apparently turned his down. Why would you turn down champagne at an all-inclusive? We have never let him live that moment down. Also, because I had paid for everything in advance the check-in process only took a few minutes and then we were quickly on our way to our room. The best part about an all-inclusive is that we really didn’t have to bring any money with us. We did however bring some cash for tipping purposes even though tips were included in the price (I’m 99.96% positive that the employees don’t see any of the “included” tips).
Tip #2 (pun intended): Go to the bank in advance and get $50-$100 in singles for tipping. They accept U.S. dollars and it’s nice to tip the staff there extra for their hard work. They really do work incredibly hard.
This was our room outfitted with a constantly stocked mini fridge and this awesome swan towel! It was very modern, spacious and clean.
This was Selma 2 seconds into the room…
Oh and the robes. The robes were actually one of my critical criteria when choosing resorts. Why? Because Selma has a love for robes. I don’t know. I try not to ask too many questions. And surprisingly, not all resorts give robes for free so this was a nice included amenity.
After we got settled in, we met up with Samir and A-Wolf for some dinner and drinks. They were hosting an outdoor BBQ that night by the main pool so we got to see a nice little show during dinner. I don’t really remember what we ate that night because we got in so late but I do remember getting lots and lots of drinks…sort of.
I was playing around with the panoramic camera on my iPhone and took this lovely picture of the beach.
We spent the next few days checking out the various amenities and restaurants around the resort. Samir and A-Wolf had flown in a day before so they already knew the in’s and out’s of the entire place. We could have partaken in some of the island excursions but we purposely picked a place where we didn’t have to leave to have a good time. After weeks of stressful exams, all we wanted to do was relax and enjoy life for a change. And trust me, we were perfectly content with everything the resort had to offer. Most days consisted of relaxing in the infinity pool, open-water kayaking, lots of beach volleyball, and frequent visits to the swim up bar and wonderful fruit boat (see pictures below).
When we weren’t eating in the room, we were trying out one of the 9 various À la carte restaurants scattered about the resort. They have everything from French to Italian and everything in between. One night, we ate at two restaurants back to back and then ordered room service. Come to think of it now, I believe we order room service most nights. We were gluttonous savages.
The pictures below are from the night we went to two restaurants back to back. The food was incredible for being an all-inclusive. Some reviewers claimed that the food was gross but we found that most options were really good. Usually all-inclusives downgrade the quality of the food to keep up with demand but we were generally pleased with all the options. And after two years of eating in the d-halls, anything was significantly better.
Some nice panoramic shots of the infinity pool, the Manatee swim up bar, and the dock. We spent many fun filled hours at the Manatee. We really really miss the Manatee.
Tip #3: All-inclusives are the way to go. You end up saving a ton of money not having to pay for every drink and meal AND you can eat and drink as much as you want. The trick is finding a decent one that serves quality food. I’ve been to another all-inclusive in the past and the food was pretty terrible. This is a situation where you definitely get what you pay for.
We were constantly impressed with their various dining options and didn’t have any bad experiences. We tried most of the restaurants at the resort and were very happy with each and every one. On our last day, we spent our time walking around the grounds and checking out the various hidden parts of the resort. We even went snorkeling but that ended poorly. But we did see a few starfish and crabs!
Tip #4: Go during the rainy season. It’s much cheaper. Even though it did rain a a few times while we were there, it usually only lasted a few minutes. We did get stuck on the beach during one storm for an hour or so but we passed the time by building moats in the sand. Yes, we are 5 years old.
Everything about this vacation was perfect. The food, service, and resort were truly top notch. The only thing I would change would be the 1.5 hour cab ride to the airport by flying in to the airport 15 minutes away. But as much as we loved this resort, there are a bunch of other places we are dying to see. But you never know, we may be back again if we get the chance.