Saturday, April 5, 2008

My Spring Break - Day One

The wife had her last spring break ahead of her and after a very difficult rotation we decided we wanted to relax. We decided that we would do an "all inclusive" vacation somewhere that was warm, had a nice beach, had no spring breaker college kids, and was affordable.
After a long and mostly futile search, I came upon Apple Vacations. Their web site says that they specialize in Caribbean vacations. So I decided to give them a call. With just the little bit of information that I stated above, a long with some pricing info they suggested the Bahia Principe Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Sounded good to us.

We landed in Punta Cana at about 2pm. I like airports and I noticed something different right away about this one... The airports in the US are all government operated. I did not see any official government vehicles around. What I did see were a lot of Punta Cana Resort Group vehicles zipping around. I learned later that the Punta Cana airport is the busiest PRIVATE airport in the world. Apparently the Dominican Republic's government is too poor to create such a place, but the resorts needed an air terminal that was close by so that they did not have to ship their vacationers 4 hours over the Dominican countryside in crowed buses just to begin their fun. So the resorts got together and built a very nice sized airport. The runway is long enough to support traffic for all aircraft, even the new, massive Airbus A380.
Nearly everyone coming to Punta Cana is there for vacation, so the first thing that greets you is a band, and two beautiful Dominican girls in dresses colored like the Dominican flag. Everybody gets their picture taken, and you can pick it up when you leave.
You have to be kind of careful after you collect your bags, because there are a large group of men who want to take your bag and cary it for you. The ones you can "trust" have a uniform on that identifies them as airport employees. The others are just there to... I don't know what. When we booked the trip the Apple Vacation guy warned me about them and told me that I should go straight to the Apple counter. I did just that and promptly walked by the representative that was trying to help us... I felt like a king sized ass. After straighting out that the guy really was from Apple, we got on to our transfer bus and we were off to the resort.

We rolled in to the resort about 4 after passing immigration and a 30 minute drive to the resort. We were immediately struck by the cleanliness of the lobby and the massive palm tree statues.
The reception area was essentially a large roof. It was open on two sides and a nice breeze was always moving through keeping the area nice and cool.

We were taken to our room, by a golf cart. We were immediately struck on how freaking big the resort was... Honestly this place was HUGE!!

View Larger Map

The resort starts way on the lower left corner and stops at the ocean at the upper right corner.

There are approxamitely 1,500 rooms in the resort, and about 5,000 people staying there at any given time.

We got to our room and we found it to be a nice tiled floor room on the first floor of the building.

Not our room but one just like it.

Each room had a little patio, a day bed, and a very nice jacuzi bath tub. After seeing the room, we were off to the beach.

As we walked to the beach something else struck us. The ground were immaculate. Clean clean clean. Disney World could learn something from these people. There were people cleaning all of the time. They greeted you with a big smile and a hearty "Hola!" We got to the beach and found it to be just as clean as the rest of the resort. The hotel cleans and combs the beach every night, so that their guests don't have to worry about hurting themselves on any debris.

The beach itself was a white sand beach, and the sand was like powder it was so soft. There are a series of reefs a ways off shore so all of the major surf is broken up before it gets to the beach proper, so all you have to worry about is gentle waves. Awesome.

We immediately jumped in and started goofing around.

After playing around for a while we decided to have a drink. All inclusive means FREE DRINKS!!! We went to the hotel's reception area that also had a very large lounge in it. We sat down with our first Foo-Foo drinks of the vacation. We found the drink to not quite have the same punch as we are used to with rum drinks. We found out that the rum the resort uses is not very strong. For good reason too. If they used the heavy stuff, you would end up having all of the trouble that strong spirits brings. People throwing up on the sidewalk, fights breaking out at the pool, sex in bathrooms, all the stuff that we hoped to avoid... maybe not the sex in the bathroom, but you get the idea.
The resort people know you are there to have fun, and, for the most part, it seemed that their only wish in the entire world was facilitate you having that fun. The wait staff was always asking if they could bring you something to drink, they would dance around to the music playing, they would try to joke with you about who you were with or what you were drinking, and they would always, ALWAYS look at you funny if you ordered something without rum in it.

After a few drinks it was time for dinner and we settled down for the first buffet of the vacation. Surprisingly, the food was good, especially for buffet set up for about 2000 guests from different countries, with different tastes.

The hotel had little hour long shows that it put on every night, so we wandered over to the theater after dinner. The shows were all based on music and dancing, mainly because you had guests there from all over the world, with no real common language. Dancing, though cuts through all barriers and can be enjoyed by all. The shows were very entertaining.

Off to bed, the first day over.

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