Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tips From Our #PuntaCana Trip #travel #vacation #majesticelegance

With our oldest son graduating this June, we realized this year might be the year both our kids would have the same week off for spring break. As hard as it was to wrap our minds around that, we did manage to set aside the disbelief long enough to try to pick a destination that would have something for everyone in our family--both the parents and two teenage boys, ages 15 and 18.

Majestic Elegance Punta Cana

Based on some friend recommendations, we decided on the Majestic Elegance in Punta Cana.  Clearly we weren't the only ones who had heard good things, because a friend who takes my fitness classes was there with her boyfriend, and we also met another couple there who were "friends of friends" (the power of social media!)

So I thought I'd dedicate this post to what we liked and what we'd do differently for anyone considering a trip to Punta Cana's Majestic Elegance!  If you're looking at this resort for your own vacation, you know it's all-inclusive in terms of both food and drinks, including alcoholic beverages, and it offers plenty of activities for all ages.

First thing I wished I'd known earlier was a piece of info I gleaned from my friend at the gym--there's a Facebook page dedicated to the Majestic Elegance, filled with tips and suggestions relating to this specific resort.  You can find it here, and you have to click Join to get approved.  Although I found out about this only right before our trip, I did find plenty of valuable information in the posts.  And, on the one cloudy day, I asked for thoughts on what to do and was immediately provided with tons of ideas (I chose Spa Day followed by drinks in the pool just like any other day!).

I also took a picture of the daily schedule while I was there and posted it for others when someone asked, which people appreciated.  So if you're on FB, definitely join the group and peruse the lists of things you should bring, tips on restaurants, the best activities, etc.  I won't list everything here, since it's already over there, but I'll say the things I saw suggested that I *didn't* bother bringing, that I wish I'd had brought, include a power strip (if you have a lot of people charging things, there just aren't enough in the rooms) and a Yeti mug (to keep the beverages cold or hot).  

My scuba diving lesson
In terms of activities during the day, we tried a couple of things, with mixed results.  There was a free scuba diving lesson in the pool one day, so we signed up for that.  It was really cool to try, as I'd never done it before (although my characters in Silver Lake do), but of course one 15 minute trial in the pool is not enough to be allowed on an actual open water dive.  They do offer a way to get certified while you're there, but we were not interested in devoting more of our time or money to it on this vacation.  So I'd say this is just something to try for the novelty if you have time, but not a "don't miss".

A Sergeant Major looking for more
bread ~ bring an underwater camera
if you want to take snorkeling pics!
We did pay for a snorkeling expedition, since we've all done it before and enjoyed it.  I can't say I'd recommend it unless, like us, you have some kids who really want to go.  The area the boat took us to was extremely crowded with boats and groups of people snorkeling, so getting a flipper in the face was a common occurrence.  You could see some beautiful fish, and we were given bread to feed them, which they ate of our hands, and that was cool.  But it was not the serene, peaceful experience I was hoping for.

On our way to the snorkel site, though, we spied a row of shanties on the beach, right up near the water, about a mile from our resort.  It's a bunch of rustic shops and bars, owned by locals, and so we decided to make that an excursion for another day.  We walked along the beautiful beach for exercise and did a little shopping.  The caveat is that this is not an area run by the resorts, so while it's cheaper in terms of prices, the vendors are a bit aggressive to get the business and earn a living. But we were glad to pick up a few souvenirs, and if you like jewelry (who doesn't?), make sure you bring home some larimar - a rare blue stone found only in the Dominican Republic.  I purchased a pair of larimar earrings and a ring with a larimar stone that also reverses to an amber stone (really cool), and the grateful shopkeeper also threw in a free beaded bracelet and two carved wooden pendants for my sons as a thank you.

The shanty shops along the beach

Our resort had a lot of crazy activities on the beach, which was fun for laughs, but if you're looking for peace and quiet, you'll want to find chairs further away from the beach bar and buffet area.  We enjoyed watching the various contests, and my husband and son participated in one competition on the beach which was billed as "soccer" but really just involved a soccer ball, two teams, and a bunch of relay races.  So, it wasn't what they expected, but it was hilarious to watch and everyone was having fun.  The entertainment staff does a really great job.

The staff also gets everyone riled up during the famous "foam party" in the pool.  Now, I'd never heard of a foam party when I first saw it on the schedule.  But I guess it's the thing to do now when you're on a tropical island drinking "free" drinks and forgetting the stresses of regular life.  I figured it would be a younger crowd and really had no intention of making a point to be there.  But my husband and I were walking back from the beach when it began, and we wandered over to take a look. People of all ages were dancing and drinking in the foam-filled pool as music blasted and foam continued to spray.  Very soon our plans to hit the gym before dinner were replaced by "When will we ever again have a chance to party in a pool full of foam?"  Just as we set our things aside and waded into the foam, I saw my friend from the gym and her boyfriend in there as well, and soon the four of us were dancing through foam and doing shots at the pool bar.  So, yeah, it turned out to be the right call in terms of a memorable afternoon!

The foam party!  I'm on the right, waving by the bar.  Fun!

The shows were another thing I underestimated.  But I thought they were excellent.  We watched both a cirque-du-soleil type performance and a tribute to the music of Micheal Jackson, and I thoroughly enjoyed both.  I was too tired to make the music of the 80s show, but I heard from our friends it was fantastic, and I'm disappointed I missed it.  

So, those are some of the things we fit into our whirlwind 5-day vacation in beautiful Punta Cana.  I wish we'd had more time to explore outside the resort, but we still did a lot and managed to leave time to do absolutely nothing but relax in the sun!  And don't forget some good books to have for the beach and pool ~ if you enjoy some steamy romance and/or spooky suspense, try one of my romance/ghost mysteries!  Safe and fun travels!

This was my favorite activity of all~
lying in the sun by the crystal clear
water, with my Kindle in my hand!


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