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Home > Destinations > Dominican Republic > Trip Reports > Trip Report

Dominican Republic - Trip Reports

Grand Paradise Bavaro, Punta Cana

September 2003

Returned from Grand Paradise Bavaro resort on August 31st after 1 week stay with family. I would rate the vacation overall as very good in all aspects. I am pleased to respond to particular questions by email.

Punta Cana Airport: Passing through the airport was a breeze. They will take a picture which you will have the option to purchase for $6 on departure. The bus trip to Grand Paradise is about 30 minutes, and will be an eye opener in terms of the local driving situation, local living conditions, etc. Departure was a little more complicated as a few buses arrived simultaneously. You will pay your $20 per person departure tax at the airport. Prices at the airport are outrageous - best to take a taxi to town ($12 one way to Plaza Bavaro area) where better deals are negotiated. The taxi ride is another eye opener as above.

Hotel Check In and Layout: Check in was fine for us. I had emailed ahead our room request. Showed the desk the copy of my email, and sure enough they complied with my request. We were in building #3 , ground floor, facing one of the pools (2nd pool from the beach). At check-in we received 2 room keys, 4 beach towel cards, the TV remote, and I returned later for the key for the safe and an internet card (to access one of the two computers at the sports bar). The room was large and well maintained - ample room to acquire a cot for our son. I would say the buildings are layed out very well, spacious, and you would only walk a few minutes from any part of the resort to get to the pools or beach. Nevertheless, if you are fussy about location, building 6 and 3 would be the better, with rooms ending in even numbers facing the pools in the resort's interior area. Odd numbered rooms face the other way. Building #2 towards the beach (even numbered rooms), would also be good. It is unrealistic to request ocean view as there are very few. The buildings meet the beach area on a 90 degree angle, and do not face the beach. Rooms that do, the view might be obstructed by palm trees, etc. There are three pools and a Jacuzzi suitable for all ages. But no infant's wading pool that I could see.

Beach: Very long and stunning, with good surf for beach fun. Good for long walks (Breezes Resort is next door to the left, the only resort neighbour - (they have an incredible lobby!!!), and the small flea market is about 10 minutes walk to the right. We snorkelled and fed fish bread from our hands (some people said bananas were just as good) and took pictures. The beach is enclosed with buoys to keep the boats out of the swim area - or people out of the boat area. A rocky area to the far left inside the buoys will offer the best view of fish. The beach will have the cabanas/huts and since I am an early riser, I would place our towels out there at about 6:45-7am to reserve a spot.

Activities: There will be many inclusive options, however, the extras seemed pricey. We did most of the inclusive activities like scuba lessons in pool, ping pong, beach volley ball, horse back riding, kayaks, but paid for extras such as parasailing. The theatre shows were excellent (3 large dance shows, magician, and 3 audience participation shows) usually intermingled with dance sessions, etc.

Food: We found the food to be very good to excellent. The buffet was very good. The three al la cartes (Cana Grill "steak and other meat dishes and surf and turf", The Chinese Food, and Italian) were very good in quality and service. We had breakfast always at the buffet and that was excellent , and we had lunch always at the Cana grill (BBQ chicken, pizza, hot dogs, fries, fish, burgers, salads, etc) - which was good. We don't trust dairy products though. Stick with bottled water provided in your room fridge, or at the bars when they have a supply). I would say that there is very good ambience in all the restaurants but our favourite was the Cana Grill at night eating by the ocean.

Economy: US Dollars are universally accepted anywhere. We tipped $2 for the maid each day and got very good service - and a few waiters whom we got to know by name were given $1 occasionally (for blender drinks with real fruit added - bananas for the Bahama Mamas). We also tipped at the a la cartes $3-4. Don't get pesos at the Hotel- they will only give you 29 per dollar, at the bank at Plaza Bavaro they give you about 35. So the Hotel takes 20% off the top. It is not necessary to get pesos again since most will take $US. The whole economy is based on negotiation. I got a CD for $10 not $20. Hair braiding for our daughter for $25 at Plaza Bavaro, not $55 asked for at the Hotel. Trinkets are always $3-4 dollars and jewellery under $10 . Paintings $10-20. And so on...

Tips: We brought two cheap inflatable rafts for the beach; insulated travel mugs for the drinks; fooz ball and pool are available in the sports bar, and internet access; plenty of strong sun screen, and for light skinned persons, limit your sun exposure to avoid sunburn; take immodium, Tylenol, antacid, and emergency kit for any scraps; might consider water shoes for kids as there is the odd rock at the surf's edge that could be sharp but no problem really; we brought our own snorkel equipment even though it is provided; usually enough shade at the beach; we decanted water from the large bottles into smaller ones to take with us; there were no mosquitoes, just the odd sand flea at dusk - we would brush them off;

Negatives: Occasional language barriers; occasional indifference among bar tenders; a few delays in service, except in the restaurants, but as others have stated , "Chill out" this is a different country.; somewhat pushy vendors at the Flea Market or Plaza Bavaro; poor road conditions and risky driving behaviour; hi prevalence of smoking among foreign guests; noise levels in ground level hallways may permeate ground level rooms; ensure locks on ground level patio doors are functional; occasional bad TV reception - (satellite); avoid hi prices in resort gift shop; finally I found this destination is less carribbeanized than other locations such as Barbados, St. Lucia, Cuba. It is basically a beach vacation within this all inclusive resort with all the bells and whistles. You rarely travel on your own outside to explore the culture. Some destinations like Cuba, Hawaii, Jamaica, etc, have an allure. But if it is one of the best beaches you want (ranks in my top 10), you have found it here!!

Pleased to respond to any questions at ejodoin2@cogeco.ca.

Thanks to Ernie for this trip report ...
September 2003

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