caribbean + mexico

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  • Our Early Winter Getaway to Punta Cana, DR

    Towards the end of hurricane season and right before all the resort prices sky rocket for the winter, the Mr. and I take a trip to the Caribbean. We call it a short trip since it's less than seven days (although six isn't really all that short, is it?). We've gone some place different every time and use different criteria than we do for trips of seven nights or more:

    1. Traveling there takes no more than half a day. We like to be poolside by early to mid-afternoon and we don't like spending our entire last day in the airport. We take a look at flight time, as well as travel time from the airport to the resort.
    2. Affordable value. We don't spend our big bucks on this trip and save our pennies for our longer trips. This means we have to really scour the information out there to find just the right deal. We make compromises (like no view from the room or no swim-up bar.)
    3. Adults only. This is true of all of our trips. We prefer the quiet that these resorts usually offer. However if  we can't find an entire resort, we'll at least find an option with a separate adults section.
    4. All inclusive. We have gone the regular route before and are always amazed at how much those drinks and poolside snacks add up. If we can find an AI we like, we'll always choose it.
    5. Food is above average. We went to an incredible resort one year that had just meh food. Everything about it was awesome but we're unlikely to return. It's a make or break issue for us.

    After putting all of that into our research process, the winner this year was the Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resorts for adults only in the Bavaro area of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. One of the things we learned our first time in the DR, is that "Punta Cana" is a really big area and your resort can be an hour and a half drive after you arrive. This resort is less than 30 minutes from the airport.

    It's a fantastic place to go if you have travelers who want a lot of options. The adult resort is connected to a much bigger family-friendly resort. We were able to go there and enjoy all their amenities (casino, more restaurants, lots of shopping), but they could not come and enjoy ours. We also found the crowd to be much more international (Russians, Canadians, Brits) with only a handful of Americans, which translates into a much more peaceful experience around the pool. No "Woo Girls" or loud hollering after a round or two of drinks. 

    A few highlights from our trip ...

    Clockwise (from top left): a mojito and my favorite drink of the trip, a chechee kapapuka (which tastes like an orange creamsicle); the path to our room (garden view with an extremely comfortable bed); one of several sculptures in the common area near the pool; there is plenty of shade and lounge chairs around the pool

    Top to bottom: a view of one of the unique features of the pool -- it also had a jacuzzi in the center and pool beds in the water; the resort is next to a public area on the beach that has shops and options for various tours

    Clockwise from top left: one of the cool things about Punta Cana is that they have left many of the palm trees directly on the beach; La Pina -- bar at the far end of the resort where you could get tropical drinks in a pineapple or a coconut; the view of the beach to the right of the resort towards the family-friendly section; lots of beds for lounging; and interesting seating sprinkled through the resort

    Clockwise from top left: pool beds, which were quite comfortable (note that the pool is pretty deep so it can be hard to drink your fruity pina colada while wading); the lighting in La Brisa where we had lunch every day (the grilled fish with lime was my favorite!); no swim-up bar at this pool but they did have chair service; the Mr. at the bar at La Pina

    The beach to the far left of the resort near La Pina is pretty empty and a great place to sit if you need some peace and quiet.

    If you are curious about more specifics of this resort, feel free to read my TripAdvisor review here.