Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: Part 2 – Being there is the other half of the fun!

The pool

Check out my first day in Punta Cana here if you missed it.

The Resort

The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana is a nicer joint than I typically patronize. I knew it when I saw the telephone in the bathroom, and I knew it for sure when it took me several minutes to figure out the high-tech light switches. They’re really into the rock-n-roll theme too. Sometimes it’s almost cute, like when the do-not-disturb sign has lyrics from the Elvis Presley song of the same name on it. Other times it seems ill-advised, like how the mirrors over the double beds had this lyric engraved on them: It’s just another day in paradise / As you stumble to your bed (…so far so good…) You’d give anything to silence / Those voices ringing in your head Um, what? Do they think their visitors are schizophrenic? The only voices that were ringing in my head during this trip were from the Kaspersky conference’s karaoke event which was held outside our balcony. (I really, really hope the people of Kaspersky are better at internet security than they are at “singing” I Shot the Sherriff.)

Even the ironing board was not immune to the rock star treatment. Leopard skin, baby!

Ironing board

The resort is rather large, but all you really need to know is that the beach is on the east end and the building housing most of the shops and restaurants is on the west end. Everything in between is mostly hotel rooms, decorative pools, or areas where private events are held. There are also a couple of restaurants near the beach, as well as a swim-up bar or two. (I don’t want to know how much alcohol this place goes through in a month.) The Dominican Republic’s alcoholic beverage of choice is called Mama Juana, and believe me, they will not shut up about it. As Wikipedia says, it’s “concocted by allowing rum, red wine, and honey to soak in a bottle with tree bark and herbs.”

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino

We were only there for two full days, so we weren’t able to check out all the restaurants, but I liked the ones we did. We had a fun night at Zen, the Japanese restaurant where our meal was cooked Benihana style in front of us. There were four groups of people at our table and I don’t think any of us spoke the same language, which made things interesting. Our cook’s name was Jesus, so when he was tossing knives around like a juggler I had to tell myself to trust in Jesus. We had dinner at a buffet place another night, or rather my brother had dinner and I had six different desserts because calories don’t count when you’re on vacation! (The watermelon gelato was soooo delish.) We had lunch at the open-air Caribbean restaurant the second day, and the breeze from the ocean was just as nice as the food. I also enjoyed watching the clever little black birds swoop down to nibble on abandoned plates after the breakfast buffet. My brother ordered room service once during the trip, but wasn’t impressed, so I’d recommend you leave your room to eat if you find yourself there. You’ll get to admire the Big Ass Fans in the restaurants. No, seriously, that’s what they’re called.

Big Ass Fans

You really do need Big Ass Fans because the weather is hot and humid. Every time I went outside I felt like I needed to take a shower when I came back inside. I found myself wishing I’d brought more clothing with me because it got sweaty pretty quickly.

The Beach

The beach at Punta Cana is absolutely gorgeous and nearly pristine. You can tell that humans work very, very hard to make it look like humans haven’t been here.

The beach

We are fair-skinned Germanic people, so my brother and I thoroughly slathered every inch of exposed skin with sun block before heading to the beach. I’d only been able to find SPF 30 in the travel size, so I reapplied it often and liberally. For some reason I thought lying around on the beach would be boring, but it wasn’t. It was a nice change from lying around on my couch.

When I went out to wade in the water for awhile, my brother got into a conversation with a resort salesman who was walking the beach selling trinkets from a pack. At first I thought he’d be annoyed, but then I realized my brother was actually enjoying haggling with the guy, which is probably a character trait that helped him become a top salesman and win this trip to begin with.

Haggling

I also braved my fears and walked around in a swimsuit in public. I figured I’d never see any of these people again anyway, so who cares what they thought of me? The resort had umpteen pools, most of them by the beach, so you could swim in safety while still being able to hear the ocean. Because there were so many, none of them were overly crowded, which I thought was good planning on the resort’s part.

Resort Credit

As part of our package we got $500 in resort credit which is somewhat deceptive. Resort credit can be spent on things like spa services or at the Resort Credit Shop. The catch is that 1) You have to pay a 20% tax on items you purchase, so it’s more like you’re getting at 80% discount and 2) The prices are marked way, way, WAY up to account for that. This is the reason they can charge $100 for a pair of flip-flops without decorating them in diamonds. They actually cost $20 after the resort credit and tax are applied, which still seems a bit much for flip-flops, but what was I going to do after mine broke? It’s amazing how quickly a flip-flop becomes a total flop once the string breaks. Hypothetically you can leave the resort, but it’s a bit of an ordeal, which is why they can get away with charging you $17 for a razor.

Which is not to say I didn’t get sucked in when I saw these:

Candy Crush candies

That’s right, they had Candy Crush Saga candies at the candy store!! I have been wanting to try these for awhile, but the shipping price online was totally outrageous, whereas the price at the resort store was only insane.

Candy Crush candies

The candies were good, but unfortunately eating two of them together did not clear all the items off my gameboard. I didn’t play Candy Crush Saga at all during the trip because I kept my phone off to avoid being charged astronomical international fees. My brother kept his phone in airplane mode which turns off the voice service and wifi, but allows you to keep using the camera. At different times during the trip I found myself wanting to reach for my phone to check Twitter or crunch candies and was slightly unnerved that I couldn’t. I think it was good for me though. Why should I distract myself with real life on vacation when the vacation itself is a distraction from real life?

Coming soon, the third and final part of my Punta Cana adventure. It involves chocolate, cigars and a shotgun.

More in this series: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  1. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: Day 1, Getting there is half the fun!
  2. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: Part 2 – Being there is the other half of the fun!
  3. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: Part 3 – I’m out of halves, but I still have fun left!
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Comments

  1. JenFul says

    @KalynsKitchen – Thanks, Kalyn! I’m never sure if I’m boring people to death about my travels, but I like writing them so I’m able to read them again years from now and remember the fun I had.

  2. says

    I’m intrigued about what the maid was trying to tell you with the numbers on paper. How much to tip her? What time of day she would be cleaning your room (and locking you onto the balcony)?

  3. JenFul says

    @Margaret S. – I think it will forever remain one of the great mysteries of my life. The best guess my brother and I could come up with is that when I left for my excursion I interrupted her before she’d completed her checklist of tasks. So maybe she came back to see if we wanted her to finish? I really don’t know.

  4. Cristy says

    Have you considered being a travel blogger? I found myself really looking forward to parts 2 and 3 of your adventure to the Dominican Republic. I would read about your travel to anywhere!

  5. JenFul says

    @Cristy – Well, I’d have to travel a lot more to be a travel blogger. And I assume I’d have to actually review places instead of just telling people what I did when I was there. I dunno. I’m not against it in principle but I don’t see how it could actually happen.

  6. AquaMarine says

    Yay! Glad I stopped by the blog to see if you’d written some new entries. I’ve missed reading your blog. You’re a talented writer and I enjoyed reading about the DR. Keep the stories coming!

  7. Cristy says

    @JenFul – You are right, perhaps I’m being naive about travel blogging, but I still think you have something here. In my opinion, reading about what you did in NYC, Pigeon Forge, and Punta Cana was both helpful for travel prep and entertaining. Definitely better than reading a boring “review” about those places. For example, I now know to anticipate an hour pre-show with tiny $4 drinks if I ever go to the Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction- totally informative, but made me laugh! Is there a market for a book of informational, yet humorous, personal essays about travel? I would read it!

  8. Kathy says

    Jen, have not been following for a while. I come back to you struggling with weight. I’m sorry. I have issues too, albeit not as big, but you need to get a grip. You know what to do. Do it.

  9. JenFul says

    @Kathy – Hi, Kathy. I did a search for your email address in the comments left on this blog as well as on pastaqueen.com. I noticed that they have almost always been preachy, giving me advice I did not ask for on how to live my life. I’d appreciate it if you stopped reading my blogs and no longer left comments. You will no longer be disappointed by me and I will no longer be annoyed by you. I think it’s best for the both of us. Thanks.

  10. JenFul says

    @kathy – I tried to email you about this, but I got a bounce message, so I’ll post it publicly instead:

    I accept your apology, but I also want you to know why I find your comments annoying. After doing a search on your email address I found these examples:

    You criticize me for eating fish and chips in London: http://pastaqueen.com/blog/2009/05/european-travel-journal-day-2-london-city-tour-and-greenwich/comment-page-1/#comment-23034
    You tell me I have “weirdo feet”: http://pastaqueen.com/blog/2009/03/explain-the-shoe-thing-to-me/comment-page-1/#comment-21739
    You call the strawberries I bought “suspicious”: http://pastaqueen.com/blog/2010/05/a-winner-and-mutant-strawberries/comment-page-1/#comment-39051
    You tell me I shouldn’t be wearing the same shoes as my mother. This one particularly pissed me off because I thought this experience was very endearing and showed the close bond my mother and I have: http://pastaqueen.com/blog/2010/06/i-am-my-mothers-daughter/comment-page-1/#comment-45016
    You tell me I am wrong to be annoyed that people can’t spell my name properly: http://pastaqueen.com/blog/2011/04/what-name-can-be-spelled-only-one-way/comment-page-1/#comment-186131
    There are also several about my weight and how I should be managing my weight http://www.jenful.com/2014/03/punta-cana-dominican-republic-part-3-im-out-of-halves-but-i-still-have-fun-left/#comment-15026 , http://pastaqueen.com/blog/2011/03/igigi-by-yuliya-raquel-review-and-50-gift-certificate-giveaway/comment-page-1/#comment-185686 , http://pastaqueen.com/blog/2010/01/happy-fifth-fativersary/comment-page-1/#comment-26919 , http://www.jenful.com/2011/10/my-injury-free-segway-tour-of-charlotte-nc/#comment-4988

    As you can see, there is a pattern of critical behavior here. No single comment particularly stood out at the time (except for the one about my shoes), though they all irked me to some degree. But when you look at them as a whole I hope you understand why I felt the need to call you out on it.

    If you do continue to read my blog and leave comments, please refrain from leaving messages like this or I will ban you.

  11. kathy says

    Dear Jennette,
    In my defense, I honestly was trying to be helpful and honest. Although, that has pissed people off before. Again, I believe you are smart and funny. Take care.

  12. Deb K says

    I find your writing about your travel experiences to be descriptive and enjoyable. I am not bored in the least and like the details you share. Then again, I think these remarks apply to all of your entries. You have a way of making the ordinary interesting, not that going to Punta Cuna was ordinary – I meant that about other posts!

  13. VeeGee says

    I’m kinda late to be commenting on this, but I guess my OCD brain is making me! I was thinking about your resort experience and happily reliving my own holidays in Bali when it occurred to me: the maid was probably asking you what time you wanted the Turn Down service in the evening – like when they come back and fluff your pillows and turn down the blankets etc. In Bali it was memorable because the maids left frangipani flowers with “Good night” written on the leaves. Ahhh…

  14. JenFul says

    @VeeGee – That is the best theory I’ve heard and sounds fairly plausible. I’m trying to remember if the numbers on the paper could have been times, but it was too long ago for me to be sure. Thanks for possibly solving that mystery!

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