Resort Review: Dreams Dominicus La Romana, Domincan Republic
HIGHLIGHTS: The Good, the Bad, and the Grand Opening discounts.
A resort style vacation recap including Caribbean beaches, endless umbrella drinks, and a few accommodation fiascos.
I have mixed feelings about "all inclusive" travel because, well, it's not really travel. It's arriving. Staying. Then leaving.
I always say that if you want a vacation go to an all inclusive and if you want an adventure go anywhere else.
BUT sometimes you just need that stress free experience of a luxurious resort where your every need is catered to. Even if you might never leave the hotel grounds except for the (additional fee) excursions. And honestly, sometimes that's just fine too.
I especially enjoy all inclusive for honeymoons or recovering from a stressful time in day to day life. Our all inclusive stay in Jamaica was wonderful and just what we needed after our wedding! It's nice to just take a break and be pampered with little effort on your part. Especially if you only have a week off work then you should just hop right down to the Caribbean and let the sun and sand wipe away your worries.
That's what we had in mind for our family trip to the Dominican . . . .
Here are a few things I really like about all inclusive resort style vacations.
Stress free planning
Typically affordable and easy to budget
Usually no language barrier on the resort
You can be social or anti social
Guided exurcions in somewhat otherwise "unsafe" areas.
Wonderful Service from house keeping, dining, luggage, spa, and even daycare.
My family member found a great deal on a new resort opening in the Dominican. She had used this resort chain before on a different island and absolutely loved it. So it was a no brainer to take part in this grand opening deal.
We took the short flight . . . well, what would have been short flight . . . to the Santo Domingo Airport in the DR. However, we were delayed for over an hour (seated on the plane) due to ice on the plane as it was still late winter in the States. So, that was a great start.
TRAVEL TIP: IMMIGRATION To enter the Dominican Republic, a valid passport with two blank pages is required. At the customs and immigration desk, you’ll receive a 30-day tourist card (US$10 cash fee) instead of a visa. By Dominican law, there’s also a US$20 departure tax, the cost of which is usually included in your airfare (verify with your carrier). The fee is per person!
Upon arrival to the Santo Domingo Airport we were greeted with a long line through customs, no air conditioning, loud steel drums, and herded through the overpriced duty free store (I found no other store available, sadly, and needed sunscreen). The second tricky part was finding our party at the airport shuttle pick up. Their cell phones weren't working and it took us about 30-40 minutes to get it sorted.
TRAVEL TIP: TravelService : Transfers.do Our shuttle service was amazing and would highly recommend them! Bring a cash tip! (Hindsight, this was the most local culture we got on the entire trip. Our driver was so friendly and willing to share with us about his beautiful country. )
We finally arrived to Dreams Dominicus La Romana!
The resort was beautiful and the check in service was top notch. We were very excited to get our vacation started.
Until we got into our rooms.
One of our rooms was occupied. Awkward! Another had a terrible smell like water damage. We got one room sorted after much talking with the front desk. I did specifically ask not to be located near construction. Since I knew this was a new build and not yet finished I had the good sense to ask ahead. But even that couldn't save me in the end.
So we went forth onto our vacation and here is what we learned pretty quickly:
The pools were wonderful!
The staff were extremely friendly.
The drinks were okay but the bars were full of fun people.
The food was hit or miss. Most of the dinner restaurants were comprised of a short selection of themed ethnic foods and everything I ate was almost good. Just not quite there. We also waited up to an hour or more to be seated. Breakfast at the "World" themed cafeteria was the best. I often ate lunch and dinner there too.
The ocean was beautiful! The beach was okay. A bit rocky and sloped. There was not much shade even with the umbrellas because you can't angle them and the Palapas cost additionally. Also, the pier was not completed during our stay so a bit of annoying construction on the beach. It has now since been finished.
The spa was absolutely the best part of the trip for me.
The excursions were pricey and were scheduled to a limited few times during the week. So we missed our chance for most of them.
The evening entertainment was a joke.
We enjoyed the onsite activities like volleyball, snorkeling, and Kayaking.
Bottled water everywhere since the water is unsafe for visitors.
The daycare was awesome and the staff was really great with kids.
TRAVEL TIP: Don't Drink the Water!No, I did not drink the water. I was not sick from that. I had done my research. But there is plenty of bottled water everywhere so you should not have to worry even when brushing your teeth.
Towards the end of our week I got sick with a new symptom of my on going auto immune disorder, for now, I will just say I was dealing with an unknown food intolerances. So I went back to the room to rest and soon learned that there was quite a lot of very loud construction in the room next to ours. I called the front desk a couple of times who first denied my claims of construction noise. Eventually the noise would stop . . . for about 10 minutes and start again. Awesome.
I was so sick I had no energy to fight it. So I just endured. The next day I was still sick and really needed to sleep but the construction which had started that morning and was even worse. I really thought they were going to hammer right through the wall.
And then they hammered through the wall! I saw a face of a man through a 6 inch hole in the shattered dry wall.
I quickly called my husband who confronted the front desk. They apologized and offered a new room but we were leaving in the morning not worth the hassle. The hammering did stop for the rest of that day.
Upon check out we demanded some sort of compensation for our inconvenience. Especially, since our other room had also started leaking and still smelled. The staff could only offer us the contact information of the headquarters and apologized.
The main office did eventually rectify the situation later after a phone call. They offered us half our money back and several nights free for a future visit which I'm not ready to take them up on quite yet.
I will say that travel is what you make it. Nothing ever goes completely right.
There will always be unavoidable inconveniences but what matters is how you handle them. I become a more flexible person with every trip and a more educated traveler which is one of the reasons I created Lauren Athalia Travel. I want to share my experiences and hopefully you can avoid my mistakes but even still you are bound to run into some issues.
Looking back, I laugh so hard about some the fiascos of this trip! My family still managed to have fun and share some memories. Really, that's all that matters. We even took our drone on international territory for the first time too which was a great first experience.
Enjoy the video and definitely go to the Dominican Republic just do your resort do-diligence and stay flexible.