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Help me get the most out of a trip in the sun!
January 23, 2014 1:08 PM   Subscribe

I'm heading to an all-inclusive resort with my significant other, and this is the first time either of us has ever done it (specifically this resort in the Dominican Republic). Tickets booked, hepatitis vaccine injected, but are there any other tips and tricks to getting the most out of doing this kind of vacation that I should know in advance? How do I get the most of out my trip?
posted by cacofonie to Travel & Transportation around Dominican Republic (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not sure about this resort in particular, but a lot of all-inclusive resorts will offer off-site excursions for extra fees. While they may be genuinely fun and worth the price, the real purpose is to get you off property so you aren't using the all-inclusive amenities (free drinks, free meals, etc.). By all means, go if it's something you really want to do, but remind yourself that you aren't "missing out" by not going. If you wanted to go on excursions every day you wouldn't have booked an all-inclusive place!

Also - you'll probably see the same staff members almost every day you are there. By day two, be sure to give your favorite bartender a really good tip so he'll remember you - typically drinks at all-inclusives are weak to save money on liquor but they will make them stronger if they know you will tip well. Same goes for waitstaff at dinner - if they remember you and your generous tip on subsequent evenings, you'll get better seating, better portions, or perhaps even access to better off-menu items.
posted by trivia genius at 1:36 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


I went to an all-inclusive Punta Cana resort about 4 years ago with my family and I asked them what advice they had and they said:

* the sun is a lot stronger there. Shade, hydrate, sunscreen or else you could be in for a miserable sun-burned experience;

* our DR resort had machine-gun-armed guards and barbed wire at the entrance because it was incredibly unsafe as soon as one left the resort. Kinetic Jr. went on a horseback-ride-on-the-beach excursion that was held up by masked men.

* The people who worked there were mostly genial and friendly but when we encountered a few genuinely unhelpful and surly employees (at the front desk, actually), we would just keep asking until we found someone helpful. In our first room there was no hot water and it took me a half day to get us relocated, but once we were settled in, management sent us gigantic fruit baskets every day.

Other than that, they remember that it was really fun.

Hold on...Kinetic 3 is reminding me that the buffets....er...avoid the buffets as they have questionable refrigeration practices.
posted by kinetic at 1:43 PM on January 23


Go to Macao Surf Camp. They picked us up at our resort and drove us to the (more private beach), 3 hours surfing lessons, and a ride back for $60USD each I think. Amazing!!

Go to Mangu nightclub (arrive after 1am). Be warned: it is the kind of place where transvestites, gays & straights party in peace and what happens at Mangu stays at Mangu.

IMO the excursions sold at the all-inclusives can be a colossal waste of $$ so pick them carefully if you decide to go. There is an island tour (i.e. south of punta cana) that I've heard is worth it. I've heard the safari is a total waste of time.

Get into town if you can, just for the experience. It is safe even though it looks sketchy. People will hassle you for sales but that's just how they do it.

Yes tip the staff!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:48 PM on January 23


Also - keep your expectations of the resort VERY LOW. The pictures always look WAY better than the actual resort. Unless you paid $2500 each, your room will feel like a best western. Sorry to burst any bubbles, that's how it is.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:51 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


I asked something similar last year. Really, just go and let loose and relax. Play along with the cheesy games that they do for entertainment, drink but don't drink too much, and chill in the ocean. Also wear lots and lots of sunscreen. Lots.
posted by Fig at 2:25 PM on January 23


Possibly obvious advice but drink lots of water, especially if you're drinking booze. Husband and I went to an all-inclusive in Puerto Vallarta once and he spent one day sun sick because he didn't drink enough water. Bring some sunscreen - it will be more expensive at the resort but it's better to pay for it with money than to pay for it by getting a nasty burn.
posted by kat518 at 2:27 PM on January 23


Make sure to be clear on the services available to you. For example, at a breakfast-and-lunch-included resort that I like in Costa Rica, they will pack you a meal if you're heading out for the day and will miss the meal.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:27 PM on January 23


A year ago we went to a different Melia property in Punta Cana, and did enjoy ourselves.

One strange thing that happened was that my iPhone was stolen right from underneath my hands while in a near-empty bar on an afternoon - and somehow mysteriously turned up at Security upon checkout two days later, even though we asked all around if said phone was to be found. Nonetheless as it had a strong passcode on it (and 'find my iPhone' was on) there was some peace-of-mind (it was work-issued), glad to get it back though.

Beware of a 'toll-free' number (using a calling card) - the resort tacks on their own fees. I had to haggle it down to about 1/3 of the exorbitant rate they wanted to extract out of me. I used a lot of Skype call minutes, very worthwhile as the wifi was actually decent to use Skype in this way. You could get an unlocked GSM phone and deal with trying to find a local SIM, but that would only be the case if you were planning to get outside the resort to have a look around. Depending on your temperament - it isn't for everyone.

As we had extra time we spent a few hours listening to the Melia Vacation Club spiel - we got a few t-shirts out of it, the Ms. was curious - of course it sounds a lot better on paper than in real life.

Bring books to read and enjoy the golf or laying about on the beach. We didn't have any problem with the buffets but were careful to eat mainly the cooked dishes and not too much of the fresh items. Also only bottled water (we may have been too careful on this point, but just a minor precaution). If you are really concerned about travelers' diarrhea ruining the trip (and believe me, having 3 days of suffering could really do that to you), consider a prescription for Cipro from your healthcare provider. Expensive on a per-tablet basis but could really come in handy should the need arise.
posted by scooterdog at 7:16 PM on January 23


if you don't care about getting a tan/looking sexy on the beach, I strongly recommend a rash guard shirt for any water activities (esp like snorkeling). It's just too tricky to remember to keep reapplying sunscreen everywhere you need it. I laughed when I got there at all the European tourists who were burnt like lobsters, until the next day when I couldn't keep up with the sun myself and got a bad burn. I bought a rash guard shirt at that point from a beach shop and paid a pretty penny.

I stayed at a similar resort in Punta Cana and, I can't speak for your resort but here were a few tips:
- bring a well stocked toiletry bag because if you forget something like contact solution, aloe vera for your aforementioned sunburn, or sunscreen as noted above, they really rip you off for it in the hotel shop.
- at the place I stayed, there were prime beach huts/beach chairs you would want to hang out at, and if you went out first thing in the morning you could put your towels down and sort of 'reserve' your seats, so that after breakfast when you got ready to hit the beach you'd have a choice spot already. There also were different options for dinner that you needed to put in a reservation for first thing in the morning to get the 'good spots'.
- it seemed like it would pay to get on the good side of the bartenders, because it is an all inclusive place the alcoholic drinks are very weak (even for me, and I'm a lightweight)
- we always left a few bucks for the cleaning ladies in our room. Not sure if we got any particularly special treatment or towel sculptures because of it, but I understand some of these places treat/pay their employees pretty poorly (and it's not a wealthy country anyway) so I think they deserved it.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:00 PM on January 23


and have a Cuba Libre for me!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:01 PM on January 23


As I was reminiscing about my vacation (and fantasizing about escaping this awful Chicago winter that wont. stop.), 2 more things popped into my head that I wish I had known before I went.

1 -- If you are on the beach and it gets windy, you basically end up in the middle of a sandblasting machine. It is not pleasant, at all. I don't know of any way to make this better, but just a warning.

2 -- Bring a small little first-aid kit with you. I got some abrasions from boogie-boarding, and while nothing life-threatening it was nice to have some antibiotic ointment available. Immodium is also helpful to have on-hand.
posted by Fig at 6:08 AM on January 24


Go to Mangu nightclub (arrive after 1am). Be warned: it is the kind of place where transvestites, gays & straights party in peace and what happens at Mangu stays at Mangu.

And prostitutes. I'm not sure this is a good option for a couple, unless they like seeing things like that.
posted by eas98 at 7:14 AM on January 24


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