Well, I stayed at an all-inclusive for a whole week.
If you are reading this and have been following me/blog for a long time you’ll know, not exactly my favourite type of vacationing. However, sometimes (I guess) it is good to actually VACATION, like, relax? Just relax? Not go, go, go all the time as I usually do.
My parents, myself + my boyfriend just spent a week in the Dominican Republic. Country #53 for me. Hooray.
I was slightly worried about this trip because with all the people I speak to, typically, people who love Cuba don’t like DR and those who love DR, don’t like Cuba.
Cuba is literally my favourite country. I have been there six times. You can see why I was worried, yes?
Luckily, I did enjoy the Dominican Republic very much. The people were wonderful. The food was great. I can say I had a really good time during this trip.
For this recap, I am doing it a little differently. I know I usually do a play-by-play for my daily shenanigans but I really spent the whole week either on a beach – two excursions – eating, eating, eating. Oh, and one night of clubbing.
This recap is just to tell you about the resort and the stuff we got up to outside the resort.
The Resort: Senator Puerto Plata Spa Resort
Let me begin with the actual resort.
The name of it is Senator Puerto Plata Spa Resort.
I did not use the spa once, so I cannot speak to that part of the name. Sorry.
We booked this family trip back in April 2022 and the cost for flight + stay + food/liquor + transport to and from airport (basically the typical parts of an all-inclusive trip) = $1243.00 per person
This is a 5-star resort and I guess, the price for the trip seemed about right. I’m not here to complain about the price though, I had just paid $600+ for one night at that place in Egypt back in December. So. YOLO. Great price for a whole week and it was pretty cool to celebrate my dads 70th birthday in another country.
The package was with Air Transat Vacations and I want to take a moment here to say they were fantastic. The crew is great, the plane seats weren’t HUGE, but we were fine. Also, the flights all went on time and returned on time. Really, not a single complaint. Air Transat was a great company to book this trip with.
When we arrived in Puerto Plata, the first PAIN IN THE ASS of going to a resort began though. That fucking wait for the bus to fill up to take everyone to 2-3 different resorts. I think between landing and finally getting to our resort took like close to two hours. Not a fan of that. I hate waiting on people, I’m so accustomed to landing, hopping in my cab/Uber/transit and getting to what I need to get to. The whole herd of humans on buses and drive is super blah.
Let me show you how beautiful the grounds of this resort were. Seeing this kind of helped the whole being annoyed at the transport thing, immediately.
The staff told me the resort was formerly a Riu, and we actually share a beach with another resort called Playa Bachata. The cool thing was, with out Senator wristbands we were able to go over to Playa Bachata to use their beach, drink at their bar and also go watch their nightly entertainment! I thought that was great. Especially on nights when it would rain, their resort had a covered entertainment area while ours was more like a Roman-era outdoor seating. Very clutch.
We were escorted to our rooms – my boyfriend and I were room 612.
The room was big, clean and my favourite parts of it were that it was away from the pool (loud music all day, no thanks) and close to a beach. We could hear the water from our balcony. Loved that.
This next part is for you POOL people. See, I don’t use a pool when I travel to places with beaches. I do not leave Toronto to go chill in a damn pool. No sir. I want the full beach. However, I know a lot of you are pool people so here are some pretty pictures of that area of the resort.
As you can see, it gets very busy over by the pools. Since we were there during family day long weekend/reading week – it was especially busy. Note that if you’d even like a chance at a pool chair, you need to put a towel on it by like 8am, latest. Again, didn’t really bother me since I didn’t use the pools but I could see why that is a nuisance.
Next, lets talk beaches! I love beaches.
There is a main beach over by where the pool area is. This area also gets very busy with its proximity to the bar, food and the occasional party or BBQ on the beach. I thought it was a decent beach. Nice sand, but there are rocks in the water so I do recommend bringing water shoes for a more pleasant experience. I did become totally obsessed with the palm trees at this beach though. There are no umbrellas, but the trees do a great job of providing shade. They were BEAUTIFUL. I think the thing I took the most photos of on this trip were the damn palm trees.
Now, yes this beach was decent and close to stuff, BUT THERE IS A WHOLE OTHER BEACH TOO!!
Closer to our room, there is a smaller and less busy beach. Yes, it is away from the bars and food, but the water is so much nicer and it is much less busy.
There is a nearby cruise port, so people from the ships will occasionally come hang on this beach. Also, locals come hang out on Sundays with their family at it too. But we never had an issue getting a chair because they keep some to the side solely for the Senator guests.
I implore everyone to spend their whole day relaxing at the smaller beach on the resort. Even when you leave to go to the bathroom in your room or to go for breakfast/lunch/dinner – there is a security guard there who will make sure nothing happens to your towel and chair. I loved hanging out at this beach.
The remainder of the resort had some pretty cool other areas as well.
There is an area with a whole row of shops, a pizza place (included in your stay), ice cream place (included in your stay), a casino and I’m sure other things that I probably should have paid more attention to.
There is a foyer area where you could hang out all day and make friends, which is what we did. And then there’s also the aforementioned Roman looking set up for the outdoor seating when the entertainment staff would perform.
We did make it to their gym ONE time. Yay. I wish we wouldn’t have been hungover so many days, we could have used it way more times. It was very clean and pretty empty. There’s a nice view while you work out too!
While exploring the the premises, make sure to take a walk over to this beautiful viewpoint. I think when people have weddings at the resort, this is probably where the ceremonies take place. It gives you a really nice view of the incoming cruise ships and the water!
Of course, let us move on to the most important part of the resort – THE FOOD.
This resort had one main food area for your breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are three a-la-cartes that consist of a Japanese restaurant, a steakhouse and an Italian restaurant – these require a reservation. Then there are the ice cream shop and pizza place I mentioned, you can eat there at any time. Near the pool there is a restaurant where you can order bar-type food during the day. But the BEST part? Legends sports bar. I think aside from the beach, we spent the most time in this place.
Do you know how awesome it is to be able to access a drink or a cheeseburger with fries 24 hours? I mean. It is really spectacular.
During the week we never ate at any of the a-la-cartes. We really liked the food at the main hall. Granted, I think my boyfriend and I were awake for breakfast like twice. But still. One night we went out to a club (more on that later) and when we came in at 4am it was so clutch being able to enter the sports bar and get a cheeseburger. It hit the spot!
The main food hall had a great variety, IN MY OPINION. Because I know folks love to argue about what they like meow meow meow. Listen, I love seafood and fish. They had plenty of that. There was a salad bar, one night they BBQ’d a whole pig and pizza + fresh pasta was always available too. Except in the morning, where they would make you a fresh omelet instead. Wonderful.
I was very happy with their food selections and I don’t get what others complained about when I read their TripAdvisor reviews. Same people who nuke Hungry Man dinners 5/7 nights a week saying this place has no variety. I guess bud, I guess.
As you see in the photos above, I really love me some fish, clams, shrimp etc. The photo of the burger is the one at the sports bar, you won’t be disappointed! If you have a chance, make sure you also try their version of an apple pie which was sometimes available in the desert area. WOW. I’m not even sure if the DR grows apples? But whoever was baking this had me hooked. I totally pigged out and would get 3-4 bars of that at lunch/dinner.
Just random other things about the resort were that it was 99% Canadian and 1% Polish.
We met people from Quebec, some small towns in Alberta, PEI……the entire Canuck gamut.
For the most part, the people at the resort were lovely. I will reserve my comments on people from two specific provinces who, yeah, the stereotypes SURE WERE HITTING with some of them. Not all. Lovely people also come from these places. (when they’re sober)
Speaking of sobriety, nope. The rum at the resort was great. Alcohol was in abundance and available 24/7. Do make sure to try their famous shot of the mamajuana and then make sure to take your birth control on time. According to the locals, this increases chances of catching the pregnant. No thanks.
Just wanted to finish off the resort section of this recap with some nice shots I also caught of the sunsets there. I thought they were pretty spectacular and who doesn’t love a pretty sunset photo?
Nightlife: Latin Disco Club
Well, we had to leave the resort eventually!
The Senator is great and all, but after 11pm that place is booooooooooooooring. Probably because the geriatrics have to be up at 5am to put their towels on their favourite pool chair. Kidding. Kind of.
If you are someone who likes to go out and party, trust me, you will have to leave the resort. We did spend some nights drinking and watching NBA All-Star Weekend festivities at the Sports Bar with our new friends, but that just wasn’t good enough.
We asked the locals if there was a nightclub we could hit up and they told us they’d take us to a place called Latin Disco Club in Puerto Plata city.
There was no cover charge, there is PLENTY of security and the VIP is so cheap (because it costs a fortune in Toronto).
We bought two bottles of their premium rum and that was $100USD total. Shit. For a private booth, two bottles and chaser? Hell yeah. I will pay that every single time. Also, if you don’t finish your bottle, you can take it home with you.
We finished our bottles though, so. Yeah.
I thought the club was great. It was a mix of people from 20-40ish in age. There was some VERY old foreign men in there lurking for the nicest BBL or anything that was barely of adult age they could find and pay for. Yeah, saw two of those. Those two dudes really stuck out. Gross.
The club plays reggaeton, merengue, bachata and salsa. If your footwork isn’t up to par, you’re basically fucked. The locals there were killing it with the footwork. I loved watching it. People were really friendly and the vibe was great. If you’re trying to shake some ass, they will play music for that as well, don’t fret. We were at the club from about 11pm until 330am on a Saturday night. Fun times.
Excursion 1: City Tour
Another opportunity to leave the resort, yes.
My boyfriend and I did this excursion alone and it was $60USD per person. We booked it with the Air Transat representative that is at the Senator daily.
Had to be up at 630am for this shit though. I hate waking up early during vacation but because the tour departs at 745am, we had to get up, have breakfast and be ready. Bleh.
The first place you go is the famous Cable Car in Puerto Plata. The reason you go there first is that by the afternoon there might be some smog and your view won’t be as awesome.
The cable car takes about 10 minutes to go up to the top and 10 minutes to go down. It is really cool. I would say, do NOT do this as a part of a tour though. We regretted it as soon as we got to the top and the tour guide said ‘be back in 30 minutes‘.
What we didn’t know was that at the TOP of the ride was a whole botanical garden. Most people just want to take the ride and take a photo of the Jesus statue, but that was not enough for us. The botanical garden is so beautiful and we could have easily spent 3-4 hours there. So if you want to visit this, do it on your own time. I’d like to think my boyfriend and I were on the younger and more fit spectrum of the people on this tour and we went down A LOT of stairs, quickly. Then we had to come up those same damn stairs to catch the ride down on time. We saw more of the place than others on our tour but it just was not enough time.
It is very picturesque, make sure you visit this and take all the time you need.
The next part of the tour was walking through the streets of Puerto Plata.
We got to see the cool Umbrella Street, then The Paseo de Doña Blanca, a quick stop at a cigar factory and then the tour guide let us have 30 minutes to roam around ourselves in the center. My boyfriend and I went into a church we’d seen and then went and grabbed an empanada. If you are in this Umbrella Street area, MAKE SURE you grab one of these (or four) empanadas. I only got one and was so angry I didn’t grab more. Sitting here at home thinking about how delicious it was.
I should say, I didn’t grab more empanadas as our next tour stop was the lunch portion of the tour.
The food was really good. My kind of plate. Rice, beans, salad and meat. For dessert there was also an amazing coconut drop. It tasted so fresh. This is exactly the kind of meal you should give people to have their tummies happy and full.
There was a reason we had food at this time, because the next 2/3 parts of the tour were CHOCOLATE and then RUM. You find a better way to spend your day, you can’t!
We stopped at this cool area where there is a fort. I truly can’t remember the name of it, but the area was nice. There is this cool yellow tower that you can climb up and you know EYE wasn’t missing the opportunity for a nice view/photo. This probably could have been another place to spend the whole day in, but again, time crunch.
Before I get to the last two parts of this – just be aware that I KNOW that a lot of tours take you to these places as tourist traps to get you to spend money, but guess what? I’m going to spend it every damn time because I LOVE RUM AND CHOCOLATE.
The chocolate tour was first and we went to a factory called Del Oro Fine Dominican Chocolate.
When you walk into this factory, the smell is amazing. All chocolate everything. They offer you a sample of a piece of chocolate or a hot chocolate first, take the hot chocolate. Best hot chocolate I have ever tasted. I made sure to get a whole bag of it to take home.
As you go along the tour you learn about chocolate production in the DR, history of the company and then see how chocolate is made from start to finish. Finally, you end up in the store for the factory. We were able to try samples of various chocolate flavours and the best was the CHOCOLATE WITH RUM.
They had four packs of this kind of chocolate and I bought three of them. When I said I love chocolate and rum, they gave me the opportunity to have it together and I took it. My boyfriend also bought some cocoa butter to take home, they have that too.
I spent $70USD in the damn chocolate factory. Seriously.
The next (and final) stop was the rum factory tour. Oh boy. Thank goodness for that heavy meal earlier.
You get there and watch a video on the history of rum in the Dominican Republic and then the history of this specific company. Know what happens after? You get to sample the rum.
How much rum?
EIGHT DIFFERENT KINDS.
I know they weren’t full shots, but we literally had eight shots of rum. Each of us.
Best tour ever.
From the tastings we decided which ones we loved the most. To me, the best one was the rum that tasted like apple. I don’t think it would even need chaser.
We bought a bottle of the apple rum, one bottle of the rum mixed with coconut water, a premium version of their rum and a 12-pack of their small bottles so we could give them as gifts when we get home.
I literally spent more on chocolate than I did on rum. Very on brand for me.
I think $60USD was very worth the money for this tour.
Granted, we ended up spending money on buying things but I probably would have bought them anyways.
Only downside was the time spent at the botanical garden not being enough. Otherwise, book this for sure while in Puerto Plata.
Excursion 2: Paradise Island
Going into the city was great, but this is BY FAR one of my favourite excursions I’ve ever taken, on any trip.
We also bought this from our Air Transat representative and the cost was $135USD per person.
For this one, all four of us went together.
Sadly, we had booked this to go on a Saturday but due to the weather they had to cancel it and it got moved to being the day before we flew home. Busy day.
You have the option of the speedboat ($80USD) or the catamaran, which we chose.
With the catamaran option you also have an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet at the end. Easy decision. And, I LOOOVE being on a catamaran.
They will pick you up from the resort and if you are someone who suffers from motion sickness, this excursion isn’t for you.
The ride to the destination is 90 minutes each way, and the entire way is bumpy. There was a poor 10-year-old on the bus who ended up vomiting. Not awesome. So if you know your stomach can’t handle this, don’t do it.
After the super long drive you arrive at Playa Punta Rucia.
It. Is. Breathtaking.
The beach at our resort was just fine, but this beach? Wow. It is beautiful, crystal clear waters and no rocks!
This is where we would board the catamaran to go to Paradise Island.
First, grab yourself a drink.
Second, board boat.
There was about 30 of us total on the boat and I found there to be plenty of space for us all. The liquor is flowing on the boat and they also served us ceviche. Booyah.
The catamaran moves really fast so make sure to hold on to the poles and your seat when it is moving. Especially once you have some rum in your system, the boat gets extra shaky. Bring LOADS of sunscreen as well, the sun will be killing you 1) on the boat because of the wind and 2) when you get to the island. As I write this, I am still peeling from the way this day messed up my skin.
Once you arrive on the island, you get to spend two hours doing whatever you want there. They provide snorkeling equipment, if that is your thing. But most of us just chose to drink more and swim more. The liquor on the island is still part of your tour so it is included in the cost.
It is busy, but I didn’t find it cramped. Boats kind of come and go at different times. I really wish this was somewhere I could stay until past sunset. I bet it would be really nice to see.
Just to let you know, there are no seats on this island. If you are traveling with someone who may have a disability or needs to sit, may be a tough go at it. Your only options were really just being in the water or sitting on the sand.
Book this excursion as early as possible during your trip, just in case the day gets changed due to weather because I wouldn’t want you missing out. We barely got my mom to agree to leave the damn sand bank.
Once the boat comes to pick you back up, you will float through their mangroves and eventually make it back to the place you boarded earlier in the day.
This is where you get to drink some more AND have a seafood feast. I made sure to take advantage of both the lobster and the alcohol.
After eating you get to relax on the beautiful beach for a bit more and then take that 90 minute ride back to your resort again.
Even though the travel to and from the point where the boat is was a nuisance and too long, it is worth it over and over. If I return to Punta Cana I would try to book my stay at Punta Rucia beach and be there the whole week.
Hope that recap wasn’t too boring. I didn’t get into as much nonsense as I usually do.
Make sure before you head to the Dominican Republic that you fill out the documents required for entry AND exit which you can find here. Doing it online will save you some time from standing at Pearson Airport and having to fill it out there.
Would I return to the Dominican Republic? Sure.
Would I recommend Senator Puerto Plata Spa Resort? 100%
I may not like all-inclusive trips, but this was pretty good. I have no complaints that would deter me from doing it again. Would have definitely gone out to one or two more nightclubs though. Maybe next time.
Song of The Trip: Bad Bunny – Tití Me Preguntó