Thanks for the congrats ladies! It feels so good to be his Mrs.! We got our marriage certificate in the mail from Carolina yesterday, so that made us smile all over again!
I'm going to break this up into sections/several posts, since I want to go over our thoughts on everything. Hopefully, it will be helpful.
For all of these it will be helpful to know that we, and all of our guests, were staying in the Bavaro section.
Resort and Grounds
The resort is absolutely beautiful. I've been to several all-inclusive resorts and this was by far the prettiest one I've been to. The grounds are so well kept and beautiful. All of our guests were in a standard room, which was pretty nice. The bathroom situation is a little odd, with the shower and toilet in a separate (little) room and the tub in the middle of the room. But it still feels big enough. We upgraded our room to a Romance Suite, the one with the outdoor shower and hammock. It's outdoor but kind of not. It's on a patio that is completely covered by thatch and has walls, but it's still open air. So, it's not like you're showering for all the world to see. The bathroom has a shower and a big tub. The small cost to upgrade to Romance Suite was SO worth it! The room was quite a bit larger and we were right on the ocean (the view and sounds of the waves from our room was incredible!). Plus, the extra room on wedding day was awesome. I had my parents, my sister-in-law and my maid of honor in there spending time with me and helping me get, plus the photographer and videographer came later as well, and even with all those people we never felt crowded. I recommend the bigger rooms for wedding day alone. The rooms were cleaned everyday, and the mini fridge was restocked with water, soda and beer everyday. Oh, and the resort is BIG. Be prepared for lots of walking!
Reception and Check-In/Check-Out
They were always so nice and helpful. Anytime we had a question, needed anything, etc., they were so nice. A few of the staff here had better English than the others, but they all spoke English and tried very hard to make sure we were happy. Even with check-in when there a few issues (rooms not ready yet, people in wrong rooms, my parents' AC didn't work at first), they were so accommodating, nice and helpful in getting everyone fixed up. When we got there, the reservation for my husband's aunt was all messed up. She booked on the same reservation with my in-laws, but they clearly paid for two separate rooms. Well, when we got they had his aunt in the same room with my MIL and FIL. The resort got it sorted out and got them in their seperate rooms, then later that night they sent a bottle of champagne and a BIG fruit basket with a nice apology note for the mix up to his aunt's room. The bell boys were awesome, too. They were Johnny On The Spot getting everyone's bags to their rooms (and from the rooms on check-out), plus a few times throughout the week when we were tired and didn't want to walk, we would see them driving their golf carts around the resort and flagged them down for a ride. Always tipped them a buck or two, but they were so nice about it. Check-out was a breeze! Oh,and the Bavaro lobby is hopping at night time! I've never seen a lobby like this at any resort/inn/hotel/motel before. It was full of people every night. There was a band playing every night. Basically, we and our guests ended up here each and every evening after dinner for drinks, a little dancing and spending time together, having a great time!
Some days they had two or three trains running, so there was only like a 5-10 minute wait for one. Other days there was only one train running, so the wait was the advertised 20(ish) minutes. Never waited longer than that though. And for people like my parents (bad hips for my mom) and his elderly-ish aunt, it was perfect. Heck, it was even great for us on days we were tired, drunk, etc. The second day we decided to just pick it up at the lobby and ride it for a complete loop back to the lobby. It was a great idea. We got to see all four resorts, know where everything was, check out the sites, etc. On wedding day this is also how our guests and my husband got to the ceremony site. Carolina told us a time to have them in the lobby, right on schedule it was there to whisk everyone away.
We really liked the pool at the Bavaro, so must of our pool time was spent there. Same was true for most of our guests. We spent a lot of time here. The pool bar here is a big palapa that extends into the pool, plus there are lots of trees around, so it provides lots of shade. And it's just pretty! It is the activities pool, so at times there can be lots of action. There are also vendors who setup here. They are not intrusive by any means, but do ask if you're interested from time to time. So if you're looking for quiet, this may not always be your place. We loved the action, entertainment and people watching here though. Plus, for people looking to not be sun baked this was a great option. The two pools in the Punta Cana section also have the pool bars, but there are just places you can swim up to on the side of the pool, not necessarily "in the pool". And there are not trees really around these pools either, so they were always smack dab in the sun. There are places you can get chairs in the shade around the pool though, just not many. For my MOH and other friend, who are both tan/sun worshippers, this was their hangout.
The beach is beautiful! About a week and a half before we got there a hurricane had come through. It was mostly over Haiti, but it still caused some havoc on the water. The water was more rough and wavy, and cloudy than usual. But each day we were there it kept getting better and more to its normal, calmer, very blue state. On wedding day it was exactly the color it usually is! So blue and pretty! Couldn't have worked out better! The beach had plenty of chairs, lots of pretty white sand and not a lot of vendors. I never saw anyone pushing souvenirs, hair braids, etc. like on every other Caribbean beach. There were tour vendors, but like the pool they weren't pushy. They would ask once then pretty much leave you alone. It's easy to take great walks and runs on the beach, too. Several of our guests walked the beach to other resorts to check them out. Toward the end of the beach there is a flea market many of them walked to as well.
When you check-in they give you towel cards. We all two people in a room, so each room got two towel cards at check-in. The idea is that you can take these cards to huts by the pool (I think there might be huts on the beach too, but I'm not 100% sure) and trade them in for towels. Once you get the towels, then you just trade your wet and dirty ones in for clean ones. The problem is that the huts only get very few towels at a time. So most of the time you'd go there and they'd say they didn't have clean ones and to come back later. People would also stalk the huts and as soon they got clean ones they were bombarded. So the clean and fresh towels would be all gone in five minutes. No joke. So the only real way to get trade in for the towels was to either be there first thing in the morning, or stalk the hut. This might been my only slight annoyance. We're pretty low maintenance travelers though, so it didn't really bother us all that much. We just always sort of say "ehh, whatever" and go with the flow on vacation. We had brought some towels with us, too. We gave them to people in their OOT bags, but most of them didn't pack the towels--the cups and everything else from the OOT bags, but not the towels. So it was more of an issue for those guests than for us. Oh, and don't lose the towel cards. If you don't have them at check-out they charge you for them. Basically, I would advise people to bring a towel if I were you.
My husband and I pretty much loved the food. So did a few of our guests who are well traveled in the Caribbean. I would say everyone else, who had never traveled outside of the country or to the Caribbean, liked the food. They never hated the food, in fact they found many things they did really enjoy, I just think they didn't prepare themselves mentally. I tried many times before we left to explain the differences, but they didn't really listen. In fact, since we've been back I've spoken with them and they've talked about it with me, saying they liked the food it was just different/culture shock. Basically, my family are good ole Southerners who LOVE their American food, and their diet consists of steak potatoes pretty much all the time. lol. So, if you have any guests who are not well traveled I would just keep making sure they realize things are different. Like I said though, everyone liked the food and enjoyed their meals.
We ate the buffet a lot. That's simply because my husband and I are very simple people and just liked the ease of it. The food was also pretty darn good. Plus, the beauty of the buffet and being in a different country with foods you're not necessarily used/not sure how you'll like it, there is so much to choose from and if you try it and don't really like the flavor of that item, well there are lots of things to try again with! We did dine at La Uva one night and it was phenomenal. His family dined at many of the a la cartes and liked them all. One night, everyone but me dined at the Japanese place. I was too drunk from too much Mamajuana (I'll that story later, lol) and was pretty much passed out in the room. There were so many people though,and it was quite busy, that only some got to eat where they cook it in front of you. Everyone else had to eat at a table in the back where there is a menu and they just bring it to you. Those who ate where they cook it for you really enjoyed it. Those who ate a table with wait service said it was okay. The sports bar was also a place we and our guests went many times. A) It's open 24/7 and there is always food out. It's basically American food. So it's awesome.....especially when you've had too much to drink. Lots of greasy foods like pizza and chicken tenders and it's always there! The sports bar always has food out buffet style (which is good), but there is also a menu from which you can order things like paninis, burgers and fries. The stuff on the menu is AMAZING! So when our guests needed a drunken, sober up meal, or just an American food fix this was the place to be! Plus, they have sports on. So on the Sunday night, my husband (who is from Boston) and all of his family and friends packed the place to watch the Patriots game. They could not have been happier! lol.
I'll be back with more later. I think I've covered everything resort related there, so it will mostly be wedding commentary. Yay!
P.S. Sorry for any typos! I was trying to type in a hurry at work!