Author Topic: Trip to Punta Cana  (Read 1765 times)

Offline yuneeq

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Trip to Punta Cana
« on: February 14, 2023, 07:10:18 PM »
Just got back last week with my DW from a 4 night stay in Cap Cana. Trip was Sunday morning through Thursday eve. This was my first time in DR, and didn't find too much info in the forums so would like to quickly share my TR. Most of my review will be based around our hotel as we didn't run around much. I don't have many great pictures but will add some here.

Flight: Flew out of EWR with United Sunday morning 7am. Originally booked economy using points hoping to upgrade with travel bank, but apparently that wasn't an option. But I got upgraded to Economy plus for free, got the exit row, and the flight was fine. Security was a breeze despite my wife not having precheck until we returned.

Arrived in PUJ at 12pm, and immediately enjoyed the airport straw hut vibes and live drums. To get to our hotel, I booked a transfer online with a company I found on Viator for $25. I booked in advance because online I read that taxis could cost $50-60. But on my way out there was someone offering for $25 and that would've been simpler instead of figuring it out online and trying to find my ride.

Baggage claim:



Heading out of the airport:



We booked the Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana all-inclusive, which is about 20 minutes away. However, Punta Cana is a gated city and it took about 15 minutes to get past security.

Booking the hotel cost 21,000 points per night for a standard room, or 36,000 for an ocean view junior suite. I booked the suite, and received an email offering to upgrade to a few different options for a discounted rate. I paid $112/night instead of about $175 to upgrade to a swim up suite with club access. The Hyatt Zilara is connected to the Ziva, and is adults-only.

Arriving at the hotel at about 1pm, we checked in at the club, waiting for our room to be ready at about 2pm. The club offers better quality liquor than the regular bars, such as Patron, Don Julio, Glenfiddich, etc.

Between the lobby and pools:



Something I want to add about the hotel that can't be captured properly in writing, is the vibe and friendliness that I felt wherever I went. Whenever an employee walked past me, from the cleaner to the waiter, to the pool boy - they would pause, put their hand across their chest, and nod their head downward while smiling at you - even if they're busy and are holding something. Don't know if this is a DR thing or a Ziva thing, but it felt amazing to be greeted like that 100x a day. The service was excellent throughout our stay, waiters constantly asking if we want drinks, offering food, and some of the staff always kept things exciting and humorous.

Room: Our room was nice, my first time ever booking a swim-up suite, and it was certainly worth it. While it's not private, access to the pool is only possible from the swim-up suites, and most of the time the pool is empty. This pool was kept warm, while the main pools were not.

Swim up suite:



Pool for swim-up suites:



Food: We ordered food in advance from Chabad in Santa Domingo, but as it's 2.5 hours away it obviously cannot be served fresh. It cost $50 to deliver, or $100 on a Sunday. We arrived on Sunday but figured we'd save a few dollars BYOK for our first night, which ended up working out well. The food from Chabad arrived double wrapped, and the hotel had a very helpful manager Santiago who stored it in the hotel freezer and served it to us each day in various restaurants throughout our stay. He was very helpful in taking out the right dishes and getting us reservations and ensuring the food was served on time. The food from Chabad was ok, the chicken dishes and dips were decent, the meat dishes were terrible.

Overall, eating hot kosher food overlooking the beach was a very pleasant experience. For the future I would bring more of my own kosher and order better from Chabad. For breakfast (we both don't eat lunch) we went to the buffet where they had fresh coffee, fruits, and kosher cereal. They also gave us raw eggs, vegetables, avocados. We brought a Dash mini maker with us, which is a must-have for travel. It's tiny, but fits one egg perfectly however you like to cook it. We also used it to make delicious egg wraps for breakfast, sunny side up, scrambled. It's all great when you're on vacation.

Beach: The beach is really beautiful. The water is a gorgeous tropical blue, and the sand is white. It's also very fine sand and never gets hot. While there is seaweed, they clean it up regularly and there was no smell whatsoever. It can get a bit windy, but nothing crazy, at night is when it affects the most. The hotel offers free kayaking and catamaran sailing. We took out the catamaran and it was fun to learn how to use the wind and adjust the sail to change the speed.





Pool: The pools are nice and have plenty of chairs, but the main pools are not heated. This is definitely a negative, the pool feels slightly chilly even while sunny (but you get used to it fast), and can get cold at later hours or if cloudy. They offered free sunscreen, but I only noticed after I paid $40 at the gift shop. Ouch.

Main pool:




Will post part 2 with the rest.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2023, 07:40:13 PM by yuneeq »
"If you fall, I will be there." -Floor

Offline Luvtotravel

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Re: Trip to Punta Cana
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2023, 07:21:34 PM »
nice! waiting for part 2...
Don't wait for the perfect moment; take the moment and make it perfect.

Offline yuneeq

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Re: Trip to Punta Cana
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2023, 11:07:10 PM »
Part 2:

Weather: The weather reminded me of Cancun, consistently in the low 80's, usually sunny, with short spurts of cloudy/rain during our stay. The only difference is that it felt a bit windier. The last day I didn't put on sunscreen for the first 30 minutes while swimming, and I got burnt pretty bad from my stomach and up. Never fun but at least I got home before I felt it.

Entertainment: The hotel offered a ton of fun entertainment throughout our stay. They have an outdoor theater, and every night they would host 2-3 events. Michael Jackson show, rock show, Queen, superhero show, Karaoke, etc. All their shows had very talented performers and we really enjoyed it. They also had live acoustic guitars and violins playing soft music next to fire pits at night, and a mixology show.

Fishing trip: I love deep sea fishing, so I was thrilled to finally try sportfishing for the likes of sailfish, mahi mahi, barracuda, and more. We were also considering to go to the nearby Scape park, which is one of those typical-but-fun parks with everything in it, zip line, caves, etc. It was hard to find a charter because the water was choppy most of the week. Wednesday I found 2 spots on a shared boat with 4 others. They picked us up from the hotel (which seemingly every activity includes, no car needed) and it was only about 15 minutes away. They warned us that the waves were 6 feet every 10 seconds, but I went fishing many times and didn't mind going. Unfortunately, it turned out to be really rough with no respite, and when sportfishing, apparently the boat never stops moving. DW and others started getting sick, and no one caught a lick for 3 hours. I finally caught a 36' barracuda and it really was a lot of fun doing so. But we decided it was time to head back. Lesson learned: if they warn you about the waves, listen to them and plan another trip.

Barracuda!



Return flight: We got late checkout to 3pm, which kinda surprised me as I don't have status and haven't been able to check out this late in a hotel lately. We were flying with United at 6:20pm and we booked the transfer for 4pm. We arrived at the airport in 15-20 minutes. Check-in was very fast, but I don't think I've ever seen gates so small and overpacked with travelers. Luckily there was a modest but comfortable lounge that also included a shower.

I was able to get business seats for 30k points and it's nice way to end off the vacation. United doesn't offer kosher meals on this route, so when I purchased our meals from Chabad, I added extra dishes to use for the flight. However the FA refused to heat up our food, claiming hygiene or whatever and I had to dump the food. I remember (perhaps incorrectly) Dan wrote that he's only had a couple bad experiences with international airlines like Cathay so I was a bit surprised to hear this from United. I also was not impressed at all with the service, having skipped past us and having to try and get their attention.

After landing in EWR we were met with a massive line. Fortunately I had global entry, but unfortunately my wife did not and I wasn't going anywhere.  It took about 1.5 hours to get out, and since she already had pre-approval for GE, took the interview and finished a few minutes later.

Some more pics from the trip:

Egg wrap made with Dash mini and some veggies:











"If you fall, I will be there." -Floor

Offline CountValentine

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Re: Trip to Punta Cana
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2023, 11:17:32 PM »
You didn't go to their water park?  :)
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Offline yuneeq

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Re: Trip to Punta Cana
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2023, 11:23:44 PM »
You didn't go to their water park?  :)

Good point! I meant to mention it but forgot.

I saw it on the way in and the way out, it looked like a ton to fun but I didnít bother going. Would definitely be perfect for children though. Itís huge!
"If you fall, I will be there." -Floor

Offline CountValentine

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Re: Trip to Punta Cana
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2023, 11:30:48 PM »
Good point! I meant to mention it but forgot.

I saw it on the way in and the way out, it looked like a ton to fun but I didnít bother going. Would definitely be perfect for children though. Itís huge!
We just got some beers and did the lazy river. Will mostly likely be back in May with my two granddaughters.
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Offline yuneeq

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Re: Trip to Punta Cana
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2023, 01:24:12 AM »
We just got some beers and did the lazy river. Will mostly likely be back in May with my two granddaughters.

Nice! How long ago were you there? Any other interesting activities you did? This trip I was in the mood of just relaxing but would like to come back and explore a bit more.

And now remembering the Hyatt thread - this was pretty easy to book as they had my dates, and the points value is amazing. A few room neighbors told me they paid over 1k per night.
"If you fall, I will be there." -Floor

Offline CountValentine

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Re: Trip to Punta Cana
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2023, 05:32:27 AM »
Nice! How long ago were you there? Any other interesting activities you did? This trip I was in the mood of just relaxing but would like to come back and explore a bit more.

And now remembering the Hyatt thread - this was pretty easy to book as they had my dates, and the points value is amazing. A few room neighbors told me they paid over 1k per night.
We were there right before you know what hit us, March 2020. Something we do just about every trip (10+ times) is an ATV tour. This one was probably the best. It was all back roads, and we toured a typical Dominican home and a cave.

We just got back from Secrets Akumal over New Years and most paid around 10K (including airfare) for 7 nights. It is just insane!!!
 
Couple of pics from the PUJ ATV tour. Yes, that is DW and I. Go big or go home!!!  :)



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Offline yuneeq

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Re: Trip to Punta Cana
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2023, 09:28:20 AM »
We were there right before you know what hit us, March 2020. Something we do just about every trip (10+ times) is an ATV tour. This one was probably the best. It was all back roads, and we toured a typical Dominican home and a cave.

We just got back from Secrets Akumal over New Years and most paid around 10K (including airfare) for 7 nights. It is just insane!!!
 
Couple of pics from the PUJ ATV tour. Yes, that is DW and I. Go big or go home!!!  :)




That looks awesome! Will definitely try it next time.
"If you fall, I will be there." -Floor

Offline sam28

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Re: Trip to Punta Cana
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2023, 11:53:50 AM »
Thanks for the TR i love this place so much that i was there 4 times in the last 2 years.

Offline yuneeq

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Re: Trip to Punta Cana
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2023, 02:07:25 PM »
Thanks for the TR i love this place so much that i was there 4 times in the last 2 years.

Would love to see your TR
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Offline EliJelly

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Re: Trip to Punta Cana
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2023, 02:54:08 PM »
We were there right before you know what hit us, March 2020. Something we do just about every trip (10+ times) is an ATV tour. This one was probably the best. It was all back roads, and we toured a typical Dominican home and a cave.

We just got back from Secrets Akumal over New Years and most paid around 10K (including airfare) for 7 nights. It is just insane!!!
 
Couple of pics from the PUJ ATV tour. Yes, that is DW and I. Go big or go home!!!  :)




Wow that's sportive. I'm glad we keep you young ;)

Offline CountValentine

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Re: Trip to Punta Cana
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2023, 12:20:15 PM »
Wow that's sportive.
I always support my wife in what she does.

Thanks for the TR i love this place so much that i was there 4 times in the last 2 years.
Any comments on the water park. I am sure that would be helpful since many here have kids.
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