Travel does not have to be expensive and can still turn out AMAZING, and some times top star! I was able to go to the Dominican Republic twice last year for a week each time and spend less than $1000 for BOTH trips. I booked my 1st trip totally last minute spur of the moment. I was supposed to be flying to Tanzania, but ran into problems getting my daughter’s passport processed in Honolulu, which cut my travel time too short. I ended up flying to Los Angeles and getting her passport that very same day (talk about night and day efficiency) but ran out of time to fly all the way to Africa. So sitting in a hotel room outside of LAX, I booked a trip for the next day to the Dominican Republic. I was intrigued with the Dominican Republic, after watching House Hunters International. I am always looking for a nice tropical, affordable place to go. I was not disappointed either time. I was able to find a great last minute deal from Cheap Caribbean for 2 people for a week at an all inclusive resort 40 minutes out side of Santo Domingo in the Juan Dolio Beach area at the Coral Costa Caribe Resort for only $436.00! Good photos and in
fo here: http://www.oyster.com/dominican-republic/hotels/costa-caribe-coral-hotel-and-resort/
This included the hotel, all you can drink AND all the meals at 5 restaurants to choose from. It also had water activities, a nightclub, a casino (which I never went in to) and a complimentary kids camp. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I am pretty adventurous, and I was pleasantly surprised. We took a taxi from the airport for about $40 dollars one way (a shared shuttle is half that). We had an amazing time. It was located on a great stretch of beach, and walking distance to some shops, and other great beaches and hotels. It is in an up and coming area, and I foresee this place getting much more expensive. But for now, I can’t rave about it enough. There are still some amazing investment opportunities around this area as well. We took a day tour into Santo Domingo and we also explored some caves. Santo Domingo is the capital of the Dominican Republic and a UNESCO world heritage site, is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas and one of the most populous cities in the Caribbean. The city is a mix of old world charm and modern Latin flair. Its medieval palaces and fortresses mix with nightlife and shopping to rival any modern city in the world. You’ll find pristine beaches and hidden gems like a salsa/merengue club set inside a huge underground cave. The architecture was great. For a week away, this makes for a great affordable trip.
About 4 months later we were able to book another week, for $38.00 a night including complimentary breakfast for 2 at an amazing property in Punta Cana. After falling in love with The Dominican Republic, I wanted to return. I was looking at all inclusive deals, but then ran into this Hotwire hot deal. The kind where it doesn’t show you the property, but shows a star rating, what’s included and what it is comparable to. It was rated a 4 star with high reviews, so I said what the heck. It turned out the place was The Puntacana Hotel and Resort: Here is a good link with info from Oyster. ( I LOVE Oyster.com by the way, because they really give you a sense of the place with a TON of real photos. Back when I was a travel agent, you never knew where you were sending a person. You had just a few photos to go by (usually doctored pro shots.) Oyster is real.
The 170-room Punta Cana Hotel is in the center of Oscar de la Renta-designed Tortuga Bay, Villa Estate rental homes, and residential communities. The property also features La Cana golf course, and two newer courses plus the Six Senses spa, a full-service , and a huge, private beach, as well as its own Ecological Preserve. The resort even funds its own Ecological preservation programs, Center for Sustainability and Biodiversity, among other Ecological programs. Nightlife is virtually nonexistent — guests come for quiet luxury., a gated, 26-square-mile property that includes
This place even included VIP meet and greet at the airport, where they meet you AT the airplane, holding a sign with your name on it, they whisk you away in a company golf cart, AND you get VIP express security passage. Talk about feeling like a rock star, when you look back and see the rest of the plane still standing in the customs line. It turns out this hotel group was one of the major founders of Punta Cana.
We had so much fun exploring the huge grounds of the property. It wasn’t just one hotel-oh no! It was in a HUGE development, with luxury homes, tennis clubs, gyms, golf courses, a marina, tons of restaurants, other hotels and villas to cater to everyone. It even had it’s OWN ecological reserve and farm! You could rent these gas powered golf carts to explore the whole place. The grounds are AMAZING! I felt so at peace and free. I am even considering arranging a retreat here. I took my daughter and my mom. We droves the neighborhoods of the luxury villas ohhing and ahhing. We traversed the golf course trails, and the back beach dirt roads laughing and laughing. I even took it out once all day by myself, exploring wildly down dirt roads, to whole other part of the property miles away with an amazing beach and restaurant called Playa Blanca. When I found this place, I felt that feeling of “Eureka” I HAVE FOUND IT! This beach is AMAZING!http://www.puntacana.com/restaurants.html
I practically had the beach to myself. The place is so spread out, that you can roam through each area practically un noticed. If you wanted to go rent kayaks or go to the beach or dine at the Super Luxe 5 diamond property Tortuga Bay designed by Oscar De La Renta, you could. It was all within the same development. This was quiet luxury!
The resort had a courtesy shuttle that would take you to town and other places on the property. After exploring all around the property, I wanted to get out and see some real culture. I decided to take the local public bus to a town about an hours drive away called Higuey.I had heard there were some interesting sights and churches there. We took the hotel shuttle out to the shopping area where you could catch the local bus right across the highway. It only cost a few dollars, and it was a great day trip adventure. I wandered around freely with my daughter, exploring the shops and this huge basilica.
The town is where most of the locals live, and I was surprised to see that the resorts bused in loads of them to go work in all of the fancy hotels. It was a contrast, and reminded me, why I did need to get out of the fancy resort area and see the local culture, the landscapes, and how people live. For me, these times, are what travel is really about. When I lived in Puerto Vallarta for the summer, we use to just ride the local bus to the end of the route and back for 50 cents. It was the best way to see the neighborhoods, and places you never would normally see, always a curiosity on the bus.
I am so happy that now I get to share this with my 5 year old. I firmly believe travel is the best education you can get.
We spent the rest of the days happily exploring the grounds, the area shopping spots, and the farm and the ecological reserve. Another great thing about this place is they support a great organization called Pack For a Purpose. You can feel good and get involved, by bringing much needed school and medical supplies from home in you extra baggage space, and drop them off at the Tortuga Hotel: