> Destinations > Dominican Republic > Trip Reports > Trip Report
August 23 - 30, 2003
My adult daughter and I spent a week at the Ocean Bavaro travelling on Jetsgo from Toronto. The plane was full and we were served meals compliments of our travel supplier, Sunwing by Redseal. Jetsgo has no inflight entertainment.
Punta Cana Airport
The airport is beautiful, only 3 years old and is all open air with thatch roof. You will be greeted by two girls and each visitor's picture is taken. These are available for sale at $6.00 US upon your departure from Punta Cana.
Our Sunwing representative met us after we went through customs and picked up our luggage. It is only a few steps to the waiting buses. The rep gave us a brief history of the island and the area. He suggested we tip the bus driver...there was a dish by his seat for donations. Our resort was the last stop en route; we first went to the Barcelo Bavaro resort where most of the people on our bus got off. There were only 4 couples for the Ocean Bavaro and we arrived at high noon.
This was the most time-consuming part of the trip. They refused to check us in until 3 pm...there were only 8 of us and no one else at the desk. As a tour, I would have expected that the rooms were pre-assigned already as other resorts do. However, they did give us our mauve bracelets so we could eat in the buffet and get drinks. Our Sunwing orientation was scheduled for 2pm in the lobby so that passed more time. Our luggage just remained in the lobby. We were hot and wanted to change but I didn't want to drag my suitcase into the lobby washroom...we were too tired after being up the night before and driving to the airport. We just sat in the lobby. At 3 pm, we all converged on reception again. They still weren't organized. This time I didn't leave and after 30 minutes, finally got a room but it hadn't been cleaned yet. It was in a nice location though, room 5418 (building 5 ocean view, 4th floor, room 18). Only building 6 is oceanfront. Buildings 3 and 4 are closer to the lobby with a pool/garden view. All are easy walking distance to both beach and restaurants. We were taken with our luggage by a golf cart. We just put our suitcases on the balcony, changed into swimsuits and went to the beach while the cleaning staff cleaned our room. There were two Queen sized beds and an ensuite 4 piece marble bathroom. The balcony was large and the view was tremendous. There was always a breeze but the humidity was very high. The air conditioning was almost silent and we had no trouble sleeping soundly every night.
Powder white, "air conditioned" sand, lots of tall palm trees and palappas for shade but be warned that unless you get to the beach before 8 am, the loungers will be taken. I played their game since I am an early riser anyway. The towel hut opens at 8 am and you must return wet towels by 5 pm as they are laundered during the night. It is a $20 charge if you lose your towel and don't return a towel card on check out. I wasn't in the pools at all but they looked OK; the loungers at the beach were more comfortable with blue material; the ones at the pool were all hard plastic. I noticed a swim up bar but seldom saw a bartender. It was mostly populated by children the week we were there.
Lots of fish on the dying reef to the right of the roped-off area but you had to be always vigilant of the speedboats whizzing up and down. One day I walked to the left of the resort and tried the snorkeling off the beach about 5 minutes away. It was also good but this was on an overcast day after a thunderstorm so there were no motorized boats on the water. The water was warm like bathwater and the fish were plentiful and colourful. I had the ocean to myself for a couple of hours while my daughter watched me from the shore. Its a shame there are so many boats on sunny days....the smell of gasoline invades the breeze. The music on the beach gets monotonous...same loud stuff every day. All games, exercises are on the beach and not by the pool so we tried to sit a distance away from the music hut.
All day too, there is a fellow, going all through the resort yelling "Langosta". He is taking bookings for lobster suppers located outside the Brazilian a la carte. They looked very good but since they were charging $40 US per person, we didn't go. We can get a nice lobster dinner at Red Lobster at home for less than half that price. They grill their lobsters...I have it on other trips to the Caribbean and I prefer the boiled version. Also, caribbean lobsters have no claws so only the tail has meat.
There are two buffets but one is dedicated to the Italian Club..they wear blue bracelets. They can come to our buffet but we can't go to theirs. 90% of the resort guests are from Italy, France, Spain, Dominican Republic (on weekends), Belgium and a few from UK. Very few that week were from Canada or US. It was three days before we met someone that we could have a conversation with in English. They were a lovely family from Belgium. We were in the lobby on a rainy evening listening to the ensemble in the piano bar and began talking as we were sitting on the same couch. We spent the rest of the week together for meals and on the beach for the remainder of the week. They made our vacation special for us as I enjoy meeting new people but am limited to the English language. I don't find lack of English as much of a problem in other islands and Mexico as I do here is D.R. The staff, however, are always smiling although the service is not very good but I didn't let that stress me out. The resort itself is beautiful.
A La Cartes
There are four; Italian (couldn't get a reservation...you must make them before noon on the day you want to eat but again, before 9 am or its slim pickings. There are two seatings 7 and 9 pm at all a la cartes. The Brazilian is on the beach which doubles as a small buffet for lunch. You serve yourself from the salad and dessert bar and they bring you skewers of meat (pork, turkey and filet mignon). You are not offered coffee at the a la cartes. Wine is dry, table wine. The Mexican has a nice atmosphere, but the food is different than what I eat at home in a Mexican restaurant or have enjoyed in Mexico in the past. There is no sour cream (they use plain, pressed yogurt instead); there is no salsa sauce and we found the food to be quite dry. The Spanish a la carte was our favourite. We went twice. Only the first time were we given sangria; the second visit was very busy and service was really slow. Only one menu between 6 of us to share. The food made up for it. I had the chicken with honey sauce both nights. They also offered beef and fish dishes. The desserts were scrumptuous. The first night I could get special coffee; none was offered after that.
Generally, the food catered to the European palate but it was all very high quality. The bread and rolls were mouth watering and the selection of fruit was abundant. There was always a chef at each meal to cook stir fry or pasta with various sauces and the omlette chef in the morning was fantastic.
Drinks and Nightly Entertainment
Neither of us liked the wine served from the two casks in the buffet...too dry for our taste. The beer was Presidente served in small plastic cups. The rum based drinks were made with the 151 proof so a little went a long way. The lobby bar made the prettiest drinks and they had premium brand liquors. You could buy Mexican Corona beer for $2.00.
The shows were mostly audience participation except for two nights where there was a lot of dancing and traditional costumes. The piano bar in the lobby was hot and humid with only ceiling fans. The nightly entertainment there was a three piece ensemble...alto sax player, keyboard and drummer but they played North American type music. There were only a few tables and chairs in this area but there were couches scattered throughout the lobby and you could still hear the music.
The disco was upstairs from the lobby. We never went; the young animation staff were always after my daughter to go to the disco but she always declined. I think the Europeans were more prone to dancing and partying all night. The highlight of our trip was meeting and making friends with a family from Belgium who spoke excellent English. We enjoyed the remainder of the week in each other's company.
A lot were offered from the tour suppliers and they were all very expensive in US dollars. As Punta Cana is a 34 mile long beach of resorts, you have to travel several hours to reach the historic capital. Snorkeling and inland tours are very good I'm told but too cost-prohibitive for us. This was my second visit to D.R. so I've seen Santo Domingo and Saona Island..........both extremely worthwhile and interesting if you have the extra money to spend. The painting by the locals are very colourful and abundant all up and down the beach at little shops. Negotiate for less than half the original price. On Fridays, the resort brings in vendors. The Larimar (turquoise, local stones) jewelry is very pretty and the prices are much more reasonable that at the airport.
Don't leave your last minute shopping for the Punta Cana Airport. It is highway robbery there, even for a drink. You will be serenaded by a band who conveniently place a straw hat at their feet to collect your left over Dominican pesos.
The spa at the Ocean Bavaro is beautifully layed out and there are many services offered. There is a book you can look through and choose what you would like. We were given a coupon for an hour massage $10 or 1/2 hour for $7.00 upon our arrival. There were little huts placed throughout the resort for massages as well. The humidity really made my hair grow out of control and I got a nice hair cut for $15.00.
A lovely resort. Canadians are definitely the minority guests but the Ocean Bavaro is Italian owned so it is expected that it would be heavily marketed in Europe. It was well worth the money I spent for the trip. I got a good selloff from Sun Holidays for under $900 per person tax included and I booked 5 weeks in advance of departure which was 23 August, the last week before school started. The first week of September, the trip was $190 off that price so there are excellent vacation bargains to be had at certain times of the year.
Thanks to Marlene for this trip report ...