Caribbean,  Travel

Dominican Republic/Iberostar

In my last post I promised you all a post about our vacation that we went on with the kids, so here it is! Our trip to the Dominican Republic was unlike any trip I’ve ever planned before. Typically when we go somewhere new we do an AirBnB and rent a car and I look up different places we might want to visit while we’re there. This time I booked us at an all inclusive hotel and made absolutely no plans to go anywhere else. So this post really isn’t going to be so much about the Dominican Republic, but more about the Iberostar Bavaro Selection Suites where we stayed. This isn’t some sort of sponsored post, trust me I don’t have anywhere near the clout required for that. But it’ll be a little explanation of what staying at an all inclusive resort for a week is like, because it’s not something I had ever experienced before. 

Now, to be fair, we had stayed with Iberostar before in Cozumel. But we were only there for about 3 days so we just got a little taste of what the all inclusive hotel life was like. Punta Cana was a bit different. Because we stayed with them for a whole week we got a free shuttle ride from and back to the airport. This was a huge deal for me. I wasn’t interested in renting a car and figuring out carseats and directions with the kids. Having someone pick us up at the airport made life so easy. However, I did have to call a few days in advance to make sure that the shuttle was lined up correctly and I’m sure glad I did that step. It was a bit confusing talking to them over the phone and the connection wasn’t great so we could barely hear each other. But after about 20 minutes I had some confirmation that someone would be there to pick us up as well as a local number for a concierge at the hotel just in case they weren’t there to pick us up. Luckily they were there waiting for us and it was no problem at all. It was only about 20 minutes to our resort and of course that’s when both kids decided to finally fall asleep after our full day traveling. 

Bungalow view from our deck

Getting checked in was easy, as checking in typically is at a hotel. Then we were taken to our room on a golf cart. I saw people getting rides around on them the whole time we were there so I suppose you could call them to take you anywhere anytime. But that is not something we participated in, we can walk just fine. But it sure was nice to be taken to our room initially instead of lugging our bags around trying to find our room. Now, a golf cart to get to a room might not make any sense if you’re thinking about a traditional hotel layout, but the Bavaro Selection Suites is more of a bungalow setup. Each bungalow has 8 rooms, 4 on top 4 on bottom. We got a top room which was much appreciated. 

The buffet area

Then came one of the best things about an all inclusive. We were hungry and the buffet was waiting for us. Honestly the biggest attraction of an all inclusive trip was not having to figure out what anyone was going to eat at any point. Food is basically always there. It’s not necessarily the greatest food on the planet, but it’s also not bad at all. Now, something we had learned from our stay in Cozumel was if you want to eat at the restaurants, you have to reserve them basically the day you get there. So in the morning we went down to the lobby and took care of some business. We had her book us at 3 restaurants, because while the buffet was fine, it’s a bit much for every meal for a whole week. You want to give the specialized restaurants a try for sure.

Breakfast with the birds

While we were there we tried their Mexican, Hibachi and Mediterranean restaurants. They were all good for sure. But the one thing about doing the all inclusive that I don’t love is we didn’t really get to try any Dominican food while we were there. I love experiencing new foods and all inclusives really aren’t geared for that. They’re more geared to please American travelers with food that they’re familiar with. Oliver loved it all. Genevieve loved it all. We all ate plenty and did get to switch it up a bit with the restaurants, which isn’t something we do often at home either. While we were getting those reservations made and setting up our covid tests for our return we somehow got sucked into doing a presentation. 

So our third morning there we got up and going and spent the morning being shuttled around the property seeing all the fancy things we could buy into. Of course it all sounded great, but we had to say no about 50 times before they finally accepted that there was no way I was going to be giving them any money to buy into their resort that day. Our reward for spending our morning in a sales presentation? $100 to spend anywhere in the resort which we definitely put to use for souvenirs. Moral of this story, make reservations to the restaurants as soon as you can and be ready to say no if you get sucked into a sales pitch.

A few Covid notes about the trip, which may or may not be relevant as time goes on, but was very much a plus for us, was the hotel offered covid testing on site. That meant we were easily able to get our necessary covid tests to fly back to the United States without having to search out somewhere or worry if they would even have tests. Per each room they gave 2 complementary tests, so we only had to pay for one test (Genevieve didn’t need one since she’s under 2). Also if anyone was curious, the Dominican Republic doesn’t require negative covid tests to enter, but I did see in some places you may need to show vaccination status. Like I said, that could all change and be totally irrelevant, but that was the deal when we went. Also, masks were recommended at the buffets and since the majority of the people staying at the resort were from Europe, basically everyone wore a mask while they were going through the buffet lines. It was comforting to me because I won’t lie, I was a little nervous we were going to catch covid while we were traveling and get stuck not being able to come back until we all tested negative. Thankfully that didn’t happen and we were all nice and healthy the whole time, and we had the negative results to show it. 

Ice cream stops daily

Now, as for our time spent at Iberostar. Our resort had a kids pool as well as a bigger pool and of course a beach to hang out on.  We basically spent our whole time rotating through the pool, beach and buffets. Right next to the pool was an ice cream stand which we frequented more than once a day. It was basically relaxation to the max. Could we have planned some excursions and been much busier all week? Yes. Would we have seen more of the Dominican Republic? Definitely. Would I change this trip? Absolutely not. With the kids being so young it was perfect to just hang out by the pool or play in the sand at the beach every single day. We woke up whenever we felt like it. Napped when we felt like it. And didn’t feel obligated to be anywhere ever. It was perfect. But at the same time, one week was good. I think if we had planned to stay any longer we would have started to get restless. We do like to adventure and while I thoroughly enjoyed having no plan, at some point we would be ready to venture out of the resort walls and actually see the Dominican Republic. I actually am pretty sure we’ll go back to the island at some point and do a completely different trip. But for this time, the relaxing stay was just what we needed.

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