- Book through Apple Vacations
– I am not paid to endorse Apple Vacations, I just highly recommend them. I booked my trip 5 months ahead of time and we got a GREAT deal going through Apple. They also take care of your flights & shuttle service which makes it worth it on it’s own. What I didn’t realize but highly appreciated was the fact that once we got to the resort, we were taken care of from the minute we arrived. We received special treatment just for booking through Apple and it was incredibly helpful. Our rep, “Super Tony”, was there for us whenever we needed him and he helped us book all our dinners, excursions, etc.
- Meet your representative at the resort ASAP
– Don’t skip the morning meeting. We did and we missed out on some important info. It only last 20 minutes, they show you were everything is, and help to plan your week out.
- Plan your dinners your first morning there
– Book your a la carte’ dinners as soon as you can. If you book through Apple you have to use your rep to book them and NOT the concierge service. This also helps with planning your activities for the week because you have a set time for dinner each night. So if you have a late dinner one night then you can spend the whole day at an excursion and not worry about being late.
- Check out the resort before you settle on one place for the week
– After arriving in our room and getting a bite to eat, we spent the next 30 minutes exploring the resort and seeking out potential beach/pool spots. There are a lot of lounge chairs/umbrellas but it is best to stake out your spot in the morning and lay your towels down to reserve your chairs.
- Take Cash
– You will need to tip. Tip your baggage carriers, your shuttle drivers, your check in receptionist, your maid, your rep, your waiters & waitresses; tip EVERYONE. It makes your week so much easier just to hand out a couple $1’s here and there. They will be ready to wait on you hand and foot.
- Take a Visa Credit Card
– Most of the island only accepts Visa and if you book certain excursions through Apple & Amstar, you are covered if you are charged the wrong amount.
- Avoid the Dance City Show (or at least the second half)
– I am really looking forward to the shows in the evening because there isn’t much to do after your dinner is over. The first show we saw set the tone for the rest of the week and it wasn’t a very good one. We picked the “Dance City” show and I was excited to see the locals dance. The first part of the show lasted about 30-45 minutes and it was a combination of local music/dance and popular American music/dance. The second half of the show…..I still am unsure if it was planned or improvised as they pulled four women out of the crowd and made them parade across the stage sexually and do promiscuous activities.. It was very uncomfortable and I hope to never sit through something that painful again.
- The bar in the lobby serves the best drinks
– All the drinks are cold and fruity but they are made the best at the bar in the lobby. Ask for a mojito and a martini glass full of olives and you will be set.
- Find the coconut men in the morning
– Those crazy monkey men climbing the trees and cutting down coconuts in the morning aren’t doing it just for fun; you can go over to them and ask them to cut one open for you! They are fresh and delicious! Don’t throw them away after drinking the milk, ask the bar to cut them open and eat the meat!
- Don’t be afraid to say NO to the vendors inside the resort
– Within the first twenty minutes of arriving we were hassled into buying bracelets, picture frames, paintings, booze, etc. You need to be firm with your “no thanks yous” or else you will end up leaving with a whole suitcase of unwanted souvenirs. Also, I met a mysteriously large amount of locals named Tony.
- Do an excursion – but don’t wait until the end of your vacation
– We tried to book our excursion through an Amstar rep at first but that fell through due to him not being in the lobby when he said he would be to finalize the details. We ended up booking through another rep that Super Tony took us to and set off to the Reef Explorer on our second to last day. We had to take a 40 minute bus ride to the town of Bavaro where we got our tickets and waited for the boat to take us out to the dock island. From the pictures it looked like we would out from shore quite a ways but we ended up being so close that I could have thrown a rock and hit it. The excursion was neat but the weather was not on our side. The water was choppy and murky which made seeing tropical fish, stingray, and sharks very difficult. We were able to snap a couple good photos but we spent most of the time out of the water eating gross deli sandwiches.
- Take time to get to know your waiters/waitresses
– If you are staying for at least a week, it makes a big difference to show your waiters/waitresses/hosts a little kindness. Get to know them on day one because you will be seeing them for the next 7 days. (Most of them work 10 days on and 3 days off). They will seek you out to make sure you have a table ready in the morning or evening buffet rush, they will bring you special treats at the a la carte’ dinner, and they will teach you the local language!
- Don’t go in January
– January is considered their winter month and it is incredibly rainy, windy, & sometimes chilly. The water was choppy most of our time there and the sand was blowing violently at times so it made spending time on the beach very unenjoyable.
- If you get sick, go to the 24 hour med service
– If you are starting to feel weird and you think it might be from the food or water, go to the med service located at the entrance of the resort. It is quite common to get a bacterial infection when traveling to a foreign county and you don’t want to spend your whole vacation locked in your room.
Overall: This was a fun resort and worth the price we paid. I have very few complaints but the top is the fact that I felt very confined at the resort and there was very little to do in the evenings.
Enjoy some photos!