When we finalized the plan of having our wedding ceremony in the US, I immediately arranged our Caribbean honeymoon. To be very honest, I think I planned our honeymoon much more than our wedding. LOL. I was still working at the time so I booked everything at work and got my manager’s approval for a staff discount. It was awesome! Perks of being a travel agent that I will surely miss.
Being the obsessive compulsive that I am, I made a long list of all the Caribbean Islands and alongside it – listed the amounts of the airfares and the hotels that I’d like to stay in while there. We were supposed to have a 5-day stay but the husband added one more day to stay in New York to be with his family longer so it went down to a 4-day honeymoon. That being said, I had to look for a place which will only take a few hours of flight. We don’t want to spend a whole day traveling.
Bahamas and Dominican Republic were both at the top of the list however, having read the reviews of the hotels – I had a feeling that Bahamas is too commercialized and focuses more on mass tourism. Also, it’s a little bit more expensive than the Dominican Republic hotels. In the end, I had to choose which part of Dominican Republic should we go for and I fell in love with Punta Cana resorts. So that’s the story of my honeymoon planning, now on to the honeymoon itself.
Punta Cana Airport is a tiny and cozy airport. It looks like a resort more than an airport and reminded me so much of Koh Samui Airport in Thailand. Filipinos holding a valid US visa are able to go to Dominican Republic under a visa upon arrival policy. The visa costs USD10 per person. I booked an airport transfer from HOTELBEDS, it was a private transfer and I was impressed when we found a huge van waiting just for us. The Hotelbeds representative at the airport took both vouchers from me – airport to hotel voucher and hotel to airport voucher which I immediately knew was a bad idea. More on that later. The travel time from PUJ to the hotel was no more than 30 minutes and as soon as we entered the massive complex of the hotel, I couldn’t hold my excitement anymore.
Melia Caribe Tropical is probably the biggest resort I’ve ever stayed in. To go from one part of the resort to another, you will require to have a buggy car if you don’t want to walk for about 20 minutes. I booked THE LEVEL, Melia Caribe Tropical’s exclusive ADULTS ONLY section. For couples or honeymooners, I do highly recommend for you to book the same as it’s all worth it. Unlike all the other sections of the resort, The Level is right in front of their private beach. Melia Caribe Tropical occupies a long stretch of beach which is why they are able to dedicate a portion of it just for The Level residents. Another perks of being at The Level is you get to have a personalized check-in process, no need to queue. We were informed that our rooms aren’t ready yet so we decided to wait at one of the bars that they have since the all-inclusive package starts the moment we arrive.
Melia Caribe Tropical is an all-inclusive resort just like most of the resorts in Punta Cana. All-inclusive have the breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and drinks in the price that you’ve already paid for. That means we have an access to 3 buffet style restaurants, 10 specialist a la carte restaurants and 14 bars inside the resort – all for the price that we already paid. We did give a dollar tip for everything but it’s not really frowned upon nor required if you don’t give a tip. If you’ve got a good heart like us, you would – just to say thank for the service that you’ve received. There were 2 specialized restaurants which charge a fee of USD39 per person – Steak and Lobster Restaurant and Hokkaido, the Japanese restaurant. Other than those two, you can dine anywhere you want but you’ll just have to make your reservations ahead of time to make sure that you’d be able to eat where you want to before it gets fully booked.
As soon as our rooms were ready, a staff showed us around the resort within the vicinity of The Level. Of course, the beach took my breathe away. Bavaro Beach is declared as one of the best beaches in the world by UNESCO, it’s a long stretch of fine white sand with palm trees all over it. Now that’s my kind of beach! 🙂
We were then lead to our room which was very spacious and comes with our own balcony and our own jacuzzi. It looks a bit dated though specially the bathrooms. Well the husband and I didn’t mind since we were always out anyway to enjoy the rest of the resort.
Most our days were spent lounging by the beach or by the pool. We would wake up at 9am, have breakfast, stay on the beach until around 2pm, have lunch, stay by the pool bar until around 6pm and then get ready for dinner. Fantastic! The only thing that we didn’t like was when that Hotelbeds representative inside the resort called us up at 8 in the freaking morning on our second day informing us that we need to meet him to reconfirm our transfer back to the airport. I knew better of course, having worked in the travel industry I do know that 1. We don’t need to reconfirm our return transfer with hotelbeds and 2. They want to see us so they can sell excursions to us. What I don’t like about it was how cunning they all were.
Sorry guys but we need to get the details of your return flight. said the silly-looking Hotelbeds rep
I’ve put all the details of our flight when I booked it.
It’s not there, I keep getting emails from my boss to check on you guys to arrange the transfer.
Oh yeah? Let me see the email.
Huh? Uhmmmm…. Ahhhh…. There are a lot of emails from my boss.
I’ve put on my b*tch face the entire time for them to realize that I’m not in the mood to hear any of their spills to sell excursions to us. The thing is, what I don’t get in all these, if we wanted to have an excursion we would book it ourselves or ask for it. I don’t want people dangling all these excursions to my face like some kind of a bait. I wouldn’t bite it. Specially if I only have 4 days in a place that I’d like to enjoy. The 45 minutes that we spent walking towards the reception to meet them, be lied to and walk back to The Level section was unfortunately wasted. Every minute counts for me and I freaking hate them for wasting some of it. It didn’t end there though, the next day which is the third out of the 4 precious days that we have in Melia Caribe Tropical, the husband had to go back to the reception and meet the Hotelbeds representatives to get the “voucher” that they made us fill out which as they said the driver would require on the day of our departure. On the day of our departure though, the driver didn’t ask for it and when we handed it over to him, he said he doesn’t need it. Saying that I’m pissed with all the game they played on us is the understatement of the year. Oh well. I can’t let them ruin my amazing honeymoon can’t I?
We had some of the best meals in Melia Caribe Tropical. On our first night, we had our dinner at Guarapo – the resort’s in-house Dominican restaurant and I fell in love with their sancocho, a popular traditional Dominican soup. The service wasn’t very good though so we left the place without leaving a tip. Lol. Second night, we prepared ourselves to have dinner at the Steak and Lobster restaurant where I had the biggest and freshest lobster ever. The additional payment of USD39 was all worth it specially since the service in this restaurant was great. On our last night, we wanted to dine in their Japanese restaurant but we were told that it was under renovation so we had our dinner at Gabi Restaurant and had some Italian fare. It was all great! Specially the lobster, we had our stomach full and satisfied the whole time we were there. Of course the best part of it all was, we can order all the alcoholic drinks that we want/need. The husband was happy. 🙂
Despite the not-so-pleasant Hotelbeds incident, our stay in Melia Caribe Tropical was amazing! It was a great honeymoon and the only thing that I didn’t like about it was it was too short!