It’s not everyday that me and my boyfriend go on Exotic holidays but this year we decided to push the boat out and book our last big, long haul holiday before we start saving for a house. Initially we wanted to go to Barbados but it was way over our budget so we picked Dominican Republic as we could get the type of hotel we wanted at an affordable price for us. After trawling Trip Advisor and the deals in the British Airways sale we chose the Now Garden hotel in Punta Cana.
After a pleasant 8 1/2 hour flight, during which I watched films such as The Greatest Showman and Black Panther we landed in Punta Cana. At the airport there was quite a bit of queuing to pay entry tax and hand over customs forms but I suppose this is to be expected outside Europe. I would definitely advise anyone travelling to the Caribbean to take a pen or 2 with you to fill in the forms as we had to borrow one on both our inward and outward journeys which can be an issue if there are none available. We arrived at the hotel quite late UK time and was greeted by friendly, helpful members of staff and a cold drink. After sorting out our room and unpacking some of our stuff we ate in the Carnival buffet restaurant at the sister hotel Now Larimar (a short, golf buggy ride away) then went to bed. The next morning we woke up to amazing views outside our room and a tasty breakfast. Most days I had toast and exotic fruit but I sometimes had bacon and yummy pastries (not together obviously!)
The hotel grounds are immaculately maintained and there’s a real sense of luxury and indulgence. It was the ideal place to relax in the sun for 10 days after a busy (and cold) few months at work and home and I had such a lovely, relaxing time. The pool is a horseshoe shape with a lazy river either side and it was so inviting. The swim up bar and pool bar serve a variety of drinks, including cocktails and mocktails and a BBQ lunch was served every day which was very moreish!
The first couple of days were cloudy and it rained on and off but the rest of the time we enjoyed clear, blue skies and bright sunshine which was a departure from what we’re used to in the UK. There was a choice of 6 restaurants to eat in at night, most of which were in the Now Larimar hotel. We tried all of them but my favourites were the French, the Japanese and Carnival buffet. The good thing about the restaurants and entertainment being in the other hotel meant that our hotel was fairly quiet at night. The hotel room was very clean and comfortable and decked out with essentials such as a hairdryer and even a iron. One day we retuned to the room to see that the maid had left a lovely display made from towels, a blanket and pretty flowers which was a really nice touch.
Ah, the beach… For me, turquoise sea and white sand are what dreams are made of and paddling in the surf, looking out to sea really did feel like paradise. The only downside to the beach was being constantly approached by vendors trying to sell excursions and souvenirs but they were always friendly and they have to make a living somehow so it’s understandable why they do it. I did buy a pair of flip flops from one of them on our first day as mine broke and they were actually really comfortable.
I would definitely recommend the Now Garden hotel and the Dominican Republic to anyone looking to go on a long-haul beach holiday. It’s a beautiful place and the people were so friendly and helpful. It was so nice to relax, enjoy the sun and surroundings, spend time with my boyfriend and switch off from the pressures of life for 10 days. I just wish we were still there now!
If you are thinking of going to the Dominican Republic or anywhere else in the Caribbean here are some tips:
- Make sure you take some dollars with you for entry tax, tips, items from the hotel shop, any souvenirs you may want or excursions
- Factor 50 sunscreen is pretty essential, especially if you burn easily like I do
- Mosquito repellent is also essential. I recommend the Boots 50% Deet spray as I only got bitten once in the whole time we were there
- Bring a pen for filling in customs forms
- Take as many photos as possible when you’re there as when you return they will help reinforce the amazing memories