Monday, November 13, 2006

Punta Cana Vacation Part One

It was probably the best getaway vacation I have ever had so far, and I hope I can getaway again often in the future. We left Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (BWI) on the morning of November 3rd, 2006. The trip was planned as part of Rad-Tech Week. Chesapeake Medical Staffing had over 60 people booked on this trip. This was also a vacation package involving Apple Vacations. The airline was USA 3000 charter flight. First off, I should say that everything went smoothly at the airport, no problems, no long lines getting screened, and our bags (all four of them) weighed in under the 50 lb. limit each. (whew!) My wife had packed just about everything from the medicine cabinet to what seemed to be a Payless Shoe Store. In the air, everything went fine.......hardly any turbulence, good weather, decent movie, reasonable breakfast, and comfortable seats. I remember thinking that with such a good start, maybe it would be all downhill from this point. I was soon to discover that my thoughts were way off base. We arrived at the Punta Cana Airport about two and a half hours later. The Punta Cana Airport is nothing like BWI. You land, the plane pulls up to the terminal, you get off of the plane and walk on the tarmac, up a sidewalk and into the building. It was very much like parking a car or bus on a parking lot at the mall. The terminal building was rather well kept and quite attractive with its palm-thatched roof. The procession through security and the baggage pick-up went smoothly. The Dominican Republic charges each person a ten dollar fee for entry into the country. As you continue through the security checkpoint, each person has to pose for a picture with two Dominican women dressed up in traditional costumed attire. These photos are then put on display on the date of your departure in hopes that you will pay seven dollars for them.

We picked up our baggage, and headed to the bus which was waiting for all of us. The Apple representative was there to greet us and provide information on the bus. It was about a twenty to twenty-five minute ride from the airport to the resort. Not bad. Along the way, my eyes were gazing at everything outside the window of the bus. Truly, this area is very poor. I could see what appeared to be alot of construction projects that had been abandoned. I noticed what seemed to be the beginnings of highway construction for the future. I can imagine that in the near future they will be needing those roads to accommodate the droves of people that will be coming to the area. We didn't really appear to ride through any large town but I did see a police station, a Burger King, a couple of gas stations, and a few small shopping centers. It was not unlike the outskirts of Cancun where you would see the most impoverished living in between and amongst the well-to-do. It's a strange feeling you get when you go somewhere, not knowing what to expect, and the unfamiliarity of it all makes it sort of an adventure. As we rode through the entrance to the resort, I still had no idea what to expect. The entrance showed no indication of what was to come, it was very secluded looking. Actually, the long entrance seemed to just be a road through what looked like a jungle to me......and then we pull up at the entrance to the hotel. The entrance is very low-lying. No tall buildings, lots of beautiful vegetation and marble. No large neon signs or stuff like that. Our bags were unloaded before we could get off of the bus.
We departed the bus and Bam!..........the humidity gets your attention. At the airport it was humid too but this time it seemed worse.....probably made worse by the elevation of adrenalin at this point. We were all corralled to a meeting room where we received our room keys, bracelets, a complimentary mixed drink and info. From this point, we are off to find our rooms.

The resort is the Iberostar Bavaro. It is one of three resorts operated by Iberostar. The other two, the Iberostar Punta Cana and the Iberostar Dominicana are both basically attached to the Bavaro. Our vacation package was all-inclusive, which meant that we could eat and drink as much as we wanted because we already paid for it. We also had use of all facilities, pools, beach, disco, casino, etc. located at the Dominicana and Punta Cana hotels. Oddly, the three hotels did not really seem to be separate...all on one compound. The rooms at the Punta Cana and Dominicana were all together in two large buildings, just as you would expect for a hotel. Our rooms at the Bavaro were spread out all over the compound in these two story "bungalows" which consisted of eight suites each. This was different. It was like being in a neighborhood, with all of these pathways and thoroughfares winding around through palm trees and lush landscaping. Very impressive!

Our suite was located on the ground level. The suite was decorated, as you can see in the photo, very colorfully, reflecting the Dominican Republic. Lots of colors. Inside, was a huge king sized bed, TV, couch and loveseat with table (like having a small living room), dresser, decent bathroom, closet, and a porch/balcony with a padded bench seat and table a chair. Excellent! Very clean. Smelled good too.

Palm trees everywhere you look.

The color you see is much like the Dominican gem "Larimar"........gotta love it!

This beach may well be the best one I have ever been to. Silky white sands, turquoise ocean.......ahhhhhh.

I have so much to tell about this trip it will take several installments. Stay tuned for Part Two!

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