Rachel and I love the beach. I’m not sure if it is because both of us grew up in Northern Canada but we love laying on the beach on a sunny day while listening to the waves crash into the shore. We have been tempted many times to pack up and move to Hawaii. Every few years we find ourselves searching for beaches and blue water.
The first trip that Rachel and I did after our honeymoon was a trip to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. I was finishing university that year and Rachel had graduated and was working as a casual nurse. As we didn’t have much money at the time we found ourselves searching for budget all-inclusive trips. In the end, we found a great deal through Air Canada vacations and flew down to the Be Live Collection Punta Cana.
As we booked this trip through Air Canada, everything was looked after pretty much as soon as we arrived at the airport. Just hop on your plane, fly to the Dominican Republic, find your shuttle, and get off at your hotel. We arrived late at night and waited to check in. Having arrived with a large group of others from our flight, check in took nearly an hour and was slowed down a bit by us not printing all of our details beforehand. Staff were friendly and helpful however and showed me to a computer where I could access my e-mail and print the necessary documents.
Because of the deal we had purchased, we were actually in a reasonable room (which we don’t have many pictures of as this was well before we considered our blog) with wristbands which granted access to parts of the beach that were not accessible to everyone. We were taken to our room and tipped the bellboy. Of all the places we have visited in the Caribbean and Central America, the Dominican Republic definitely stands out as having people who search for tips and are aggressive with their sales. I had to intervene at one point when a vendor at the resort would not accept no for an answer. This meant that we generally received good service, however you find a lot of people waiting around for an opportunity to get a tip which can be uncomfortable. The Dominican Republic is one of the poorer countries that we have visited and this is how people get by. The people we met were generally friendly, but if you are uncomfortable with high pressure salespeople, this may not be the place for you.
The first day they highly recommend that you attend an orientation which has some useful information and is probably worth attending. They informed us about safety and how to return to the airport. At this orientation we were also told about a nearby market that you could visit by booking a shuttle through one of their agents.
We booked a trip and when the shuttle arrived we were the only ones to hop on. It took us to what was basically a gas station in the middle of nowhere and dropped us off. We were told they would call another shuttle when we were done shopping. We were definitely a captive audience. Fortunately we intended to buy some rum while we were there and bought a couple of bottles and they called a shuttle. In the end it wasn’t a bad experience, but beware what you are getting yourself into.
Our room was on the lower end for hotel rooms we have stayed in (admittedly we have stayed in a few nice hotels) but was comfortable enough. What stood out in our room was the full glass wall on the shower which faced into the bedroom. This is not an issue if you are on a romantic vacation, but I’d imagine it may become awkward when travelling with family or friends. There was a blind that could be lowered which was controlled from the bedroom and left large gaps uncovered. This was fine by us but you’ve been warned.
At the time (2015) the resort had very slow internet that could be purchased by the data amount. We purchased some data so we could book tickets for a future trip when they became available. We managed to log in and complete our registration, however, we would not use it if we didn’t have to.
The meals at the resort were average. I generally enjoyed the meals and Rachel was able to pick through the buffet for gluten free fare. The a la cartes were good and Rachel managed to find things to eat there as well. We did both get very sick from food poisoning toward the end of our stay and overheard others who had gotten sick as well.
The resort was large and had many amenities including a fitness center which was reasonably well furnished but could have benefited from some air conditioning. The resort also had a casino which we visited once and had a good time.
What stands out about this resort to us however, were the shows. The entertainment was well beyond any resort we have stayed at before. The Michael Jackson show (which every resort has for some reason) was particularly amazing.
While this wasn’t the best resort we have stayed at in many ways, the beach here was beautiful! A short walk to the North up the beach led to open beaches with very few tourists. Here the rain forest met the beach and blue waters. It was a peaceful walk we would do nearly every day before slowly swimming back to the resort.
There was also a “nature reserve” a short walk from the resort. We were told there was a nice lagoon here and decided to check it out. We walked down one afternoon and followed some trails through the bush. We didn’t see anyone until we came into a clearing where we found a one eyed old man with some gardening tools. We said hi as he seemed curious why we were there. We tried explaining that we were looking for the lagoon to which he responded “cinqo dinero” we nodded and he turned around and walked into the forest. We decided to follow and after a 15 minute walk where he never turned around to see if we were still there, we arrived at a decrepit old dock at a lovely lagoon. I’d belying if I said we never questioned our safety on this walk and upon arrival I paid the man five dollars and he silently walked off. We waited at the lagoon awhile before wandering back the direction we came and fortunately didn’t get lost.
In the end, this was one of the few vacations where we were ready to go home. Don’t get me wrong, we had a great time and were fortunate to have the opportunity to visit, but we don’t feel the need to return. I would rank Be Live Collection Punta Cana as average. If you are going, you should still have a great time, but I don’t highly recommend the stay.