Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Punta Cana 2017 - Days 2-4

In case you missed my first vacation recap post, you can find it HERE.  Nick and I decided to escape our crazy household for a few days of drinks, beach/pool, and relaxation!  TGFM... Thank god for Mimi.

After a late dinner on Saturday evening, we crashed back in the room until well past 8am on Sunday morning.  Since I couldn't remember the last time I slept past 8am, I was immediately up and heading to the pool while Nick looked at me like I was insane.  In my world, it was well past mimosa time and I figured I could nap in my cabana!!

One thing that Nick and I loved about the resort was just the sheer number of cabanas and chairs available for seating.  Yes, lots of people went down to the pool at dawn and threw towels on premium seats, but every day, we still managed to get a great spot (and we certainly weren't down there at dawn!).  We've been to other resorts where it feels like a competition to see who can get up the earliest to save chairs.  Not my idea of a good time.

Heading down to the beach to dip my toes
We quickly transitioned into a brunch, late afternoon lunch, and late evening dinner schedule.

We spent 99% of both Saturday and Sunday just lounging by the pool or the beach.  We took some walks on the beach, visited the swim up bar, enjoyed the poolside grill, and loved every second of having no plans for the day!

Sunday was super windy, so Nick convinced me to take out one of the resort's sailboats with him and we zipped up and down the coastline checking out the neighboring resorts.  Compared to our sailing trip in Jamaica where I was thoroughly waterboarded for an hour or so, this little trip was downright relaxing!  Bavaro Beach was a great place to sail since the whole bay area is sheltered by a reef.  So, we just stayed inside the reef area and cruised. 

The hotel surprised me with a birthday cake and a bottle of champagne on Sunday afternoon.  The timing was fairly hysterical as I was only returning to the room for a quick second when our butler (yes, we had a butler and I regret not sneaking him home in my suitcase!) spotted me and then a whole group of butlers burst into our room singing Feliz Cumpleanos!  Nick missed the whole thing as he was still at the pool at the time of my surprise.  To say I was fairly surprised to emerge from the bathroom and find a group of singing men in my room was a major understatement.

Compared to some of the other islands that we've visited in the Caribbean, there wasn't too much fish life right off our beach.  Nick brought his mask/snorkel with him, but didn't spot too much out there.  However, on Monday, he swam out further to the reef and managed to find a few more local guppies to check out while I played lifeguard from the beach.

Each night, we were some of the last people to leave the pool area, which was totally fine with us.  It was well into the 80s, even after the sun went down.  

Although we splurged for a swim out private pool room, I don't think we'd do that again since we just didn't have the time to use it all that much.  Nick took an afternoon dip most days when we headed back to our room to shower and change for dinner, but that was about it.  The other problem was that pool was FREEZING compared to the main pool, so I had no interest in jumping in there, especially when it was in the shade.

As always, the Thomans brought the crazy to the hotel.  Apparently my American hair dryer was way too much for the resort to handle because I managed to knock out power multiple times to our room while attempting to blow dry my horse's mane.  Again, butler to the rescue (and I learned how to say "our room has no power" in Spanish!).

Nick to the rescue flipping the power back on to the main room
Our hotel was absolutely beautiful.  Based on the interior/exterior and landscaping, we thought it had to be fairly new.  We were surprised to find a plaque one night that mentioned that it was almost 10 years old.  You would never know it.  Everything looked brand new and the staff obviously took a lot of pride in making sure that you were VERY happy during your stay.

Lobby area
Interior of our hotel wing
Outside our room
Nick surprised me with a birthday dinner on the beach on Sunday night.  I had pretty much figured out the surprise since Nick's ability to lie is atrocious and I'm apparently "the worst person to plan a surprise for" (not my words, but he's totally right!).

I'm not quite sure I would label it as "romantic dinner" since the resort seemed to think that a boom box blaring 80's rock ballads was important to our beach dinner.  I'm not going to lie - I LOVED the 80's music.  I spent the whole dinner rocking out to Paula Abdul, Sheena Easton, Journey, the "Pretty Woman" soundtrack, etc.  It was like Nick's own personal karaoke concert (I'm sure he was thrilled).  Give me a bottle of wine and some 80's tunes and I'm a blast.

They "volunteered" to take some pictures of us at our dinner, which then turned into a mini photo shoot where they directed Nick to propose to me again, which was HYSTERICAL!  Our waiter didn't seem to notice our awkwardness as they posed us...

Unfortunately, our trip ended way too quickly.  On Tuesday morning, I was up bright and early again in order to take advantage of our last morning in Punta Cana.  I managed to score a premium cabana while Nick snoozed for another hour.  He missed out on "breakfast happy hour," as I called it.

Nick joined me in time for a morning dip... and to swim over to the bar to grab me a drink!
Mid-morning mudslide

Look at those relaxed people!
Parents gone wild 2017!
As always, the Thomas family enjoyed their time away from reality!

Again, compared to some other Caribbean islands that we've visited over the years, we were highly impressed with the Punta Cana airport!  From curb to security, we were done and through in just minutes.  I love small airports where you walk out to your plane!

And home we go...

A huge thanks to Mimi, who managed not only 2 children, 2 school schedules, Girl Scouts, gymnastics, but also a snowstorm in our absence!  Getting Grant into/out of the car is a total adventure these days, so there's also that adventure.  

Time to start planning Nick's 40th in the spring...   

Monday, December 18, 2017

Punta Cana 2017 - Day 1...

In the spirit of trying to post more than once a month... (Although, I am 100% blaming our current Netflix addictions of Stranger Things 2 and The Crown!).  

Nick and I managed a little escape last week to the Dominican Republic.  It all came together fairly quickly - booking flights, hotel, arranging for Mimi-care for the kids, etc.  The stars aligned with Nick being off from work for a few weeks before starting a new job, having some United miles we wanted to use, and a rare free weekend in December.  We wanted some place with a direct non-stop flight to DC, tropical/warm, and some place that we had never been... so Punta Cana became our destination.  We hadn't been away together since our Jamaica trip celebrating my 35th birthday.  After that, zika-mania took over and I was banned from leaving Maryland once I was pregnant with Grant.  We both were overdue for some R&R and kid-free time.  All we saw was "all inclusive" and "adults only" and we booked it!

Of course, there always seems to be some sort of drama when we travel.  This time around, it was a rare December snow storm for DC that continued to gain momentum and news hype... right as we planned to depart for Punta Cana!  We even checked into a hotel near Dulles Airport the night before our flight in case the roads got bad in the morning.  Luckily, we only suffered a slight delay to get our plane de-iced before leaving the snow behind us and heading for paradise.

There's always something so amazing about landing some place tropical when it's winter at home!  As Nick and I walked off the plane onto the tarmac and headed into the Punta Cana airport, I said something like, "I love walking across a tarmac - it means we're someplace small and warm!"  The only problem with sometimes being some place "small and warm" is when the entire computer system goes down in the airport and you have to stand around for an extra 30 minutes waiting for them to reboot.  UGH.  I almost offered up Nick to fix the damn problem!

However, within the hour, we were strolling into the amazing lobby at the Iberostar Grand Bavaro Hotel.  Being greeted with a pina colada always seems to wipe away any travel woes.

Nick and I took about 10 seconds to check out our room, change into our bathing suits and hit the beach for a few hours.  Absolutely love east coast travel to the Caribbean.  Adios USA in the AM and hello beach time in the PM.

After exploring the beach a bit, we plopped ourselves down by the pool for a few hours and just enjoyed the flowing drinks, the comfortable cabanas, and the quiet of being childless for a few days!  Long after all the other guests headed inside for dinner, Nick and I just chilled by the pool and watched all the resort lights come on around us...

The best part was watching all the Christmas lights come on at the resort as the sun went down for the day.  I think going back any other time of year might be a disappointment in the future because the resort was beautiful with all the white twinkling lights.

When we finally made it back to our room to get ready for a late dinner, Nick took full advantage of our private pool for a bit...

On our way to our late dinner reservation, we had to check out the giant ship that sat in the middle of the property.  We were shocked to find out that it was a bar!

View of ship during the day
On the top deck of the ship

We rounded out a long day of travel with a late dinner at one of the resort's specialty restaurants before calling it a night!

Heading to dinner