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Luxury All Inclusive In The Dominican Republic – The Reserve

I love my friend Shruti for many reasons but one in particular is that she is ALWAYS ON HOLIDAY!  Which means I get to pester her for lots of reviews for you all to indulge in.  Recently Shruti jetted off with the family to the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean.  If you’re thinking about adding the Dominican Republic to your holiday repertoire, have a read of Shruti’s review below for some tips:

DR - Jethwa Family

Who went? Shruti & Nilesh with their daughters, Arianna (nearly 4) Anushka (nearly 2)

Where did you go? The Reserve at Paradisus Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic

When did you go? Last two weeks of March 2014

How was the weather? Gorgeous. Hot and sunny every day.

How did you book the trip?  Were flights and accommodation part of a package?
No booked both separately and directly.

What did the price include?
The resort is all-inclusive and so the price paid includes all food and drink (including some alcohol) during the stay and airport transfers (although we paid extra for our own airport transfers so that we could get car seats and so that we didn’t have to stop at lots of resorts on the way to the hotel from the airport)

Did you have to organize visa in advance?
No visa, although you do have to pay USD20/EUR20 per person on arrival and it is very expensive to withdraw dollars once in Punta Cana so would suggest you take dollars with you. This is also a lot easier as took a while to get to the cash point.

How was the flight? 
Flight there was an 11 hour day flight (from London).  Thankfully we were in Business Class so plenty of space. I was shocked to find out that they don’t provide meals for under 2 year olds on BA though, and had not taken any food for my daughter on board so she ate some bits that the cabin staff managed to forage together but did not get a proper meal (on either flight) which was a bit rubbish on such a long flight.

DR - in the cockpit 2

How far was the hotel from the airport? 
Hired a private car to take us there and back with a company called Sunny-C which we organised through the hotel.  They managed to provide us with both the car seats that I had asked for on the way from the airport to the hotel but for some reason only had one car seat for us on the return journey.  It is a fairly short journey from the airport to the hotel.

What did you think of the hotel? 
We stayed in the Reserve which is attached to the main hotel but is a bit smaller and quieter and was more kid-friendly.  The hotel is set up in a lovely way, the Reserve has its own restaurants, pools, gym etc and it is a short golf-buggy ride (which the kids LOVED doing anyway) to the main hotel which has additional restaurants, pools and gym. 

DR - in the golf buggy

Staying in the Reserve, we also had to opportunity to have a “Family Concierge” which is at extra cost, but which means that you are assigned somebody to look after you during your stay. In some ways this was very helpful as it is quite a big resort and so it nice to be able to liaise with just one person for restaurant reservations etc. You also get a few perks (eg they can book you deckchairs at the beach and you get some extra amenities like a tshirt and hat for the kids), but I am not entirely sure that it is worth the extra expense.

How was your room?  

Staying in a Reserve Family Concierge Suite, our room was huge.  We had a massive living room (which had a kitchen area with a big dining table and a separate living area), our bedroom and bathroom and a terrace with a lovely outdoor Jacuzzi. We had asked for a cot which was provided in the room for Anushka and Arianna slept on the sofa bed which was huge.

How were the facilities?
The facilities are great. There is a specific children’s pool in the Reserve which has slides and where they sometimes did fun things with (eg filling it with balls) aswell as a lovely adults pool.

DR - kids pool 4

In addition, there were more pools in the main hotel, including a small paddling pool for babies. 

DR - pool 3

There are plenty of restaurants. There is a tiny little shopping village just outside the hotel (which we didn’t bother going to as apparently it is very overpriced). There were some shops (which again were overpriced, as I learnt when I had to spend nearly USD40 on suntan lotion when we ran out!). They have a few flamingos on the property which the kids loved to go and feed bread to.  We also made use of the tennis courts that they had and the gym 9which included an area for yoga, pilates and spinning lessons).  The resort organises lots of activities for adults aswell as children (eg sushi making, tennis) so there is lots to do for everyone.

DR - flamingoes

Was there a Kids Club?

There is a great kids club, one of the best I have ever seen. They had a big, separate room, for babies and then a large area for younger children with both indoor and outdoor space. In the outdoor space, they have a soft play area (which is quite decent) and did activities such a bungee jumping and rock climbing for the slightly older children they have a climbing wall and a proper bungee machine!) 

Inside, they ran lots of classes, some of which are quite standard (eg pizza making, cookie making, beading and threading) but others of which were very adventurous and interesting (eg making papier mache face masks of their own faces and a recycling workshop where they can make things out of cereal boxes, egg boxes etc). The staff in the kids club were very lovely and caring and took a lot of care over the children and almost all the children in the kids club seemed to be happy and appropriately supervised. 

Was there a beach?
There is a beach and the sand is lovely, soft and white, and the water was warm and calm.

DR- on the beach

Did you do any trips/excursions?
We didn’t but there were plenty of people dotted around the hotel who you could book with so very easy to do. They had swimming with dolphins and snorkelling available.

How was the food?  

There are many restaurant choices so you have the option of eating buffet or a la carte.  My main criticism of the hotel really is related to the food. The kids menu was very poor – it only had about 4 choices on it every day, which almost never changed and was very unimaginative (eg chicken and chips/pasta). In addition, my husband and I are vegetarian and whilst some chefs did make a big effort to accommodate us, the vegetarian food was not of a particularly high quality and was sometimes quite odd (eg fried tofu in a bed of truffle mash).  This is quite frustrating in an all-inclusive resort as it is quite hard to get food which is “Off-piste” so I would say that if you have any particular dietary requirements, this is perhaps not the place for you.

How was the staff?
Very friendly, especially to the children.

How was the trip overall?  What tips would you give to someone booking this holiday? 
The trip was lovely. I’m not sure that it was worth the 11 hour flight and I don’t think we will go to an all-inclusive resort again, but the facilities were amazing, there genuinely is a massive focus on making the holiday relaxing for people with children (in particular, the kids pools and the kids clubs are very, very well done) and the staff were very nice and accommodating.

DR - By the pool

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