In addition to travel advice (with and without kids), I am also hoping to use this space to share some of my trip highlights and reviews. I have found it really hard to keep up with writing about current travel (mainly because the return from any trip is generally met with a backlog of work and home needs that require pretty immediate attention), but it is a new year, and one of my goals for the new year is to post more. My husband and I already have some great trips in the works for 2018, and there are so many amazing places we have been to in recent years that I would love to share.
In particular, our next upcoming getaway has me reminiscing about a similar retreat from just over a year ago – a wonderful winter break in Santo Domingo, DR. Here are some of the highlights from our last Dominican vacation:
Last Christmas (Christmas 2016), my husband and I were eager to find an affordable, warm destination to take our then 9-month old daughter to. My stepson was away visiting his mother out of state for the holiday, so it would just be the three of us, and we were looking forward to a slower-paced trip than our whirlwind travels to Europe and Asia. After a little research, we settled on the DR. Neither of us had ever been to the Dominican Republic before, and we were drawn to the colonial charm and the promise of warm weather and beautiful beaches.
We found some great fares direct to/from Santo Domingo on Jet Blue (by far my favorite carrier!), at some less than desirable flight times, but completely manageable for the two of us and a sleepy baby (these times definitely would be less manageable had we been traveling with my stepson). The flight from Boston to Santo Domingo is about 4 hours (note there is also an additional hour lost on the way out due to the time-change), which is feels quite short when flying in the middle of the night. Jet Blue was fantastic as always and our daughter slept the entire way, which is another bonus to flying in the middle of the night.
After checking out a few hotel options in and near Santo Domingo, we settled on the Renaissance Santo Domingo Jaragua Hotel & Casino, and we were not disappointed. We arrived at the hotel at about 5:30 am, and had booked our room from the evening before so that we would have a room waiting for us upon arrival. This is a key recommendation for any traveling with kids, and provided your hotel isn’t breaking the bank each night, the extra cost is very much worth it. The hotel had our crib waiting for us when we arrived, which was super helpful, and we were able to get a little much-needed rest after the short naps that we all had on the plane.
Since we had our daughter with us, we didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to lose our money in the Casino, but we took advantage of pretty much every other amenity. Our room was situated in a cute little building across an internal road from the main building and it was both quiet and lovely. One of the major items that drew us to the hotel to begin with was the gorgeous pool, and we found that the photos online were very much in line with what we saw when we got there. My husband prefers to stay out of the sun, and it was very easy for us to find a covered cabana pretty much every time we went to the pool. The only warning that I would give is that the ground surrounding the pool gets quite hot in the sun, so be sure to bring some water shoes or cheap flip flops to get you you’re your chair to the pool!
One of our favorite spots at the hotel was a cute coffee/ice cream shop right off the lobby that proved to be a great way to start our day, or to get a pick-me-up after a day out on the town. We also enjoyed ending our evenings at the hotel bar, which had cocktail tables and chic couches available. With our very active little girl, the couches proved to be a great spot!
The hotel was really overall quite fantastic, though the one area that I would recommend a little extra training and care be given to is the pool bar restaurant. We had lunch at the pool bar restaurant on our first day and were really disappointed in the 15 minutes that it took to be greeted after sitting down. The service at this restaurant was really slow and not really that cordial. Conversely, the drink service for the cabanas at the pool was quite pleasant (though again, on a bit of island-time).
Part 2 (Santo Domingo Dining) Coming Soon!