This will be the first in a series of reviews on my recent trip to the Dominican Republic for a destination wedding. Before this trip I was (and still am) wary of all-inclusive resorts where you are shuttled in hermetically sealed vehicles from airport to resort and then back again; where tourists are waited on hand and foot while just a few steps off the resort complex you see poverty, shacks, and rampant crime. I repeat: I was wary, still am, but guiltily enjoyed my three days in “paradise” at the Paradisus Punta Cana resort. Every detail is considered when ensuring the guests’ comfort and relaxation. Lifting a finger is not allowed and expanding your stomach at the extensive restaurants and “snack bars” is encouraged.
I arrived on a Saturday evening and, being the paranoid traveler that I am, had to wrestle with the bellman as he told me to leave my bag with him while I checked in. Clutching my other bag to my side as I was greeted by yet another employee, I checked in and was served my first of many complimentary drinks. After the relief I felt when I realized that the bellman was not someone who ran off with stupid tourists’ bags, I was driven in a golf cart to my suite, which I was sharing with a friend.
The suite was about as big as my husband’s and my first apartment. It was obviously set up for a romantic couples getaway, with the luxurious bed, see-through shower and toilet doors, and a Jacuzzi with room for two, but we barely spent enough time in it to notice. The courtyard was a recreation of a tropical jungle, complete with birds chirping and monkeys yelping (by the time I left I still hadn’t figured out if they were real or a recording to add to the ambience).
I discovered the gross luxury item I want when I am a millionaire: a pool with tile lounge chairs built in. My sun tolerance is much lower than normal, so to be able to sit in the water and soak up the rays was a complete relief and I may have even slept there if I had been allowed. This pool was in “The Reserve” area, a higher class of the resort, but the “regular pool” had the swim-up bar and activities coordinators, trying to corral the guests to join in water polo or salsa lessons. Klassy. The Group Activities I skipped. The bar I used.
I am not a beach person, but I could be a Paradisus beach person with its flawless sand, thatched umbrella bungalows, padded lounge chairs, and locals trying to teach you to Segway. Water sports galore, if you are into that kind of thing (which I am not) can keep the avid thrill-seeker occupied while the little shops that line the path along the beach are a different type of diversion. I did not water sport or shop–just beached.
My overall review of the food and restaurants would be “OK.” There was plenty of it but it lacked that quality of flavor and presentation that you would get in a restaurant that had nothing to worry about but the food. Because the resort had to produce mass quantities of every dish and meal, there was something lacking in each dining experience–love, maybe? The variety was impressive: grilled fish, local items (lots of fritters and rice and beans), cheeses, olives, salads, pasta stations, omelet stations, plantains (fried and mashed), grilled tomatoes, mushroom salads, crab legs, smoothies, 7 kinds of sausages–and that’s just what I ate. Some individual dining reviews will be posted later.
As an all-inclusive resort, the overall consensus among the 30 wedding guests was that the Paradisus is top notch. Five-star. Paradise. It was, and if I was less of a travel snob, I would return.