It was the middle of winter when Brian and I decided to go to an Island. We joke that we booked this trip in the middle of night with a credit card, and didn’t even realize what we were doing – and that’s not entirely far from the truth! I had been to the Dominican Republic before with my mom, but it was Brian and I’s first trip abroad together, and we wanted it to be perfect. So after what seemed like countless hours of research, I finally found a resort along the southern coast of the island that blew me away. More on that in a bit!
We booked our entire trip without a travel agent – we went through Expedia. I am not convinced that this is the answer for every trip, because you’re pretty much on your own, but for this one it worked. Our resort stay and airfare was bundled into one price and deeply discounted because of this. We both ended up paying less than $1,000 each for an entire week at an all-inclusive resort, including airfare and taxes. My tip for finding the best prices is to be flexible with dates, go during the off-season, and book as far in advance as you can.
We arrived in the middle of the week, and flew into the capital city, Santo Domingo. Getting to the country was easy enough, but navigating to our hotel was a little crazy. We got picked up in a pre-arranged taxi by a nice gentlemen..who didn’t know a lick of English, and who’s car was older than I am, but after an hour ride through the countryside, we pulled up to our resort. I’ll add – we didn’t have cell service. We both chose to take a week without our phones, but that also meant that hour ride to the resort, I had to just pray we were actually going to the right place – made me have a whole new love for Google Maps!
Our resort was a Catalonia Hotel property – Royal La Romana – an adults only resort that just opened in mid 2017.
The resort was spotless – and i’m a clean freak so this was a huge concern about me. There were no bugs, nothing was dirty, and every attention to detail was considered. The resort is less than a year old, so that is a huge factor, but the staff was incredibly accommodating and kind. Our room was a bottom level suite – this means we could open the sliding door and walk down steps into the pool. The bar was 15 feet from those steps down into the pool. Do I even need to elaborate on how great that was? Who knew that banana, mint and rum could make a drink that tasted like heaven. Beyond the food and drinks [which were outstanding], the design of this place filled my designer heart with so much joy!
There were no missed details – the tiles on the wall, the intricate floor patterns, even the bathrooms were beautiful. I found myself taking more pictures of the restaurants at this resort than actually eating at them. The looks I got from everyone as I sat at awkward angles to take pictures of light fixtures in the lobby..priceless! Even the folks I met here who weren’t into design and decor thought this place was beautiful. The modern amenities and up-to-date decor made an impact on the feel and mood of my experience for sure, which is just icing on the cake.
There was a bohemian style garden that you had to walk past every time you went to the beach from the resort. Every time I would stop and say “I love this garden so much, I just want to look real quick!” and I would stroll through it. By the 3rd day Brian just instinctively would stop when we passed it because he knew I would need to stroll through it. I mean there was a filed of succulents – of course I was in awe [considering i’ve killed all of mine]. They grew herbs and mango trees, and used the unconventional planters, like tires and bicycles, which make it feel like a whimsical and tropical little haven.
There was a lot to do at the resort itself – from kayaking, snorkeling, to relaxing in their dreamy day spa. You could find us sprawled out in the sun under a beach cabana, or reading a book by the pool most days. The evenings were filled with delicious local food, live music and dancing, and meeting people from around the globe. We did decide to venture off one day to Soana Island – which is a small island off the coast of the Dominican. It is technically a national park and is therefor protected habitat, but they do tours of it, along with boat rides to and from a sand bar. We signed up for this – and it was quite the day of adventure! We got picked up in an unmarked van and were the only English speakers. If you’ve seen the movie Taken – well the whole scenerio was playing out in my head the entire ride in that van. However after driving through the narrow streets of small villages for 30 minutes, we finally arrived as a beach were we were ushered onto a catamaran and sailed for 2 hours to Soana Island. It was crazy, but a story for the books.
We swam in the water (so clear I could see my toes!) and ate a local BBQ lunch made by the natives of the island. If the word relaxation was a place in the dictionary, it would be this little island.
I could write a novel about this trip! It was everything I needed to refuel and center myself. My love for travel and my need to explore were satisfied, but my desire to keep exploring new places was only heightened. This trip was just the tip of the iceberg for Brian and I’s adventures together, and this resort will always hold a special place in my heart.
If you are interested in where we went, check out the resort here.