We had an absolutely wonderful time! As everyone has said, it is just as beautiful (if not more!) than you imagine it to be. We met some great people right away and that definitely added to the experience. I have no complaints about anything - the service was impeccable - almost too much attention at mealtimes if anything!
We tried both a la carte restaurants but definitely preferred the buffet ... do it yourself, eat as much as you like, AND eat in the beautiful open area with a view of the ocean if you're sitting on the lower level. Sometimes a cute cat comes around asking for scraps.
I really regret not having learned any Spanish before going ... if you have any inclination to learn this language, definitely do it before you go. I found I loved listending to it so much I am taking a course now!
I personally thought the animation team did a great job. If you dared to participate in one of their shows, you got a thank you gift ... by the end of the week I had gathered two bags of coffee and a T-shirt! So go ahead and participate - you are on vacation, let loose!
As one person said, DEFINITELY bring your own mug - especially if you are eco-conscious and are sickened by the thought of how many little plastic cups get consumed .... Speaking of waste, we also opted to let our blue beach towels dry on the balcony each night so that we could use them again the next day instead of exchanging for a new one ...
Tipping is appreciated so we tipped at most meals and every day for the cleaning staff, and then at the end we went around tipping random people - gardeners etc. To tip, either bring small US bills (don't bother with Canadian - it really doesn't matter if our dollar is doing well) or exchange larger US bills at the front desk.
Also, at the end of your stay, don't be shy to leave behind partially used cosmetic products - sunscreen, lotions, etc. These products are very expensive for Dominicans to buy and it is appreciated if these kinds of things are left behind - but make sure you write a note, otherwise the staff could be accused of stealing it. (I learned this information from our "contact person" - Natalie).
I didn't make it to the markets, however, I did find a couple of other shopping opportunities:
- there are vendors who come right to hotel (twice during our stay) and set up in the evening for a few hours either by the pool or on the upper deck
- if you take the little excursion to Cayo Levantado, there are vendors at the public beach there as well.
The jewellery is beautiful, and I am very happy with my purchases!
I think that's it - I tried to focus on things I hadn't already read in other reviews. Make sure to have a few shots of mamajuana!!!
PS If anyone wants to do me a favour, please figure out the name of the song that the animation team plays over and over whenever they do their litle introductions (NOT the bahia principe one.) THANKS!
PPS Oh yes - my one negative experience - If you buy the CD in the gift shop, open it in the shop to make sure there is a CD inside ... only when I was back home did I discover mine happened to be an empty case ...
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