If you read our last post, you know we were ready. Ready for a full eight nights of total and utter relaxation at an all-inclusive in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. I’d found us a great deal through LivingSocial for (get ready) the Lifestyle Crown Residence Suites – aka The Residence Suites at Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Resort. Wow – what a mouthful!
Speaking of mouthfuls, we all do tend to think of food when we talk about all-inclusives. So I might as well talk about that first. Wait – should I even try to talk about the food given that Elliott is the real foodie in our relationship? Oh well, given he’s not here, I’ll just come out and say the food was awesome. There were many different style restaurants and each night our hotel staff would make a reservation for us at a new restaurant. My two favorites were the Mexican place and the Brazilian Steakhouse. Wow I wish we could have gone back to that steakhouse!
Um, I just realized I don’t have any photos of the food. Well, this ought to get the point across:
Unlike at our last all-inclusive, which by the way is the only other all-inclusive we’ve been too, we did not have a hard time getting out money’s worth out of the drinks. Of course, that may have been due to Elliott’s decision to set a goal for the number of drinks we had to consume, and his regular updates on how we were doing with our “daily average.” Due to this new approach of his, there may have been one or two afternoons or evenings (or mornings) where one or both of us slight over-imbibed.
Okay, yes, I should have talked about the resort first. But we’re here now. As soon as we checked in, they gave us an upgrade, not just for our room but for our actual building / area. We got moved into the Presidential Suites, and that sounded pretty cool. Take a look at our enormous room, with the enormous Jacuzzi bath! I loved that thing.
We had an actual couch on our huge private balcony:
The resort was large with three main pool complexes for us guests. There were golf carts with drivers waiting to take us from complex to complex, but we quickly learned that the best way to avoid sales pitches for timeshare ownership plans was to walk everywhere. Anyway, after a day or two we had figured out that our pool complex at the Presidential Suites was the quiet area, and the other two pool complexes where the places to be for peppy music and activities.
I can’t forget to mention the beach areas. There were several of these as well but even as VIPs we were only allowed to access two beach areas (many are reserved for people who “own”). At the beach area we visited the first day, we were excited to find full-on beds on the beach with curtains around them for privacy! The next day, when we went to the VIP beach, we realized we hadn’t seen jack. This beach had *swinging* beds as well as a bar and bar service TO your swinging bed!!
All this luxury made it hard to get motivated to get out of the beds and go down the steps to the actual beach and water, lol. But we did, and we even walked along the water’s edge a couple times to check out shells and what lay beyond our fancy resort (mostly little shacks selling stuff, but one day we came upon some young boys who had just come out of the water with a huge haul in their fishing nets).
I know I’ve used the term “total relaxation” a couple of times, but anyone who knows me knows I can only sit still for so long. I do love sitting on a lounge chair (or in this case bed) by the pool all day long, but I also like jumping up occasionally and doing things. This place had plenty to offer.
There were two gyms we checked out a few times, mainly later on in our stay when all the food we’d been eating was completely catching up with us! Despite the ungodly warm thermostat setting in the one gym, we were impressed with the equipment. In the other gym, Elliott met a fellow cross-fitter (read: super crazy gym enthusiast if you don’t know what cross-fit is) and actually joined in with her for some of her workouts! He was sorry the next day.
The activities by the various pools were a little more interesting. We participating in yoga, stretching, and abdominal workout routines, and I somehow got roped into TEACHING a yoga/stretching class one morning – no idea how that happened! In the afternoons there were all kinds of things going on, from pool aerobics to bar-tending competitions to run-in-a-huge-inflatable-ball-across-the-pool competitions. One day there was even a “fair” where we played Carnival-type games to earn tickets which we could use at the end of the day to bid for prizes. And some of the competitions yielded prizes as well.
Ironically, we ended up with two bottles of Dominican Rum. Ironic because 1) we don’t drink much hard liquor and 2) we weren’t able to bring liquids over 3oz in size back to the US this time since we weren’t checking bags. We traded some rum for coffee and gave the rest away. (We were pretty popular when we did that.)
Each night there was a show of some sort. We didn’t go to all of them but we went to a bunch and they were fun. Before each show there would be a mini entertainment bit of some sort. One night we walked in just a few minutes before the main show, and caught the last five minutes of the pre-show. It was a movie theme song guessing game. Wouldn’t you know it – my trivia expert of a husband got 6 out of 6 right and stole the trophy out from all those people who had been playing the whole time! (More rum!) He felt a little guilty but really proud.
We just loved the local, cultural song and dance shows. The singing and dancing were wonderful and the costumes were superb.
Of course Elliott’s #1 was the Michael Jackson show! This little male impersonator did a really good job with MJ’s signature dance moves. Elliott was itching to take photos with the guy, then to get home and practice his own MJ moves.
The only night when we weren’t crazy about the “entertainment” was the night of the “VIP Party.” First of all, as far as we could tell, everyone was invited – so I don’t think it was actually a VIP Party. Secondly, it meant all the usual restaurants were closed, and our only food option was at this party. Thirdly, the food wasn’t very good. And it was crowded, making it hard to even get your food to your table before it was freezing… I could go on. But why? It was a great trip. And we simply left the party early and made it a quiet night for two.
Overall, the entertainment was a lot of fun, but we learned the best way to entertain ourselves on an all-inclusive vacation, of course, was to just relax!