Tag Archives: Vacation

Punta Cana 2010

It’s has again been another successful summer vacation to the Dominican Republic.

It started out with an uneventful flight from CVG to PUJ. Both couples (Wykle’s and Nolting’s) have traveled multiple times to the same resort complex (Grand Palladium) in Punta Cana and knew the routine by heart. The shuttle from the airport to the resort was about 30 to 45 minutes which included a few other drop offs before arriving at our destination. At check-in we were processed by a very nice gentleman named Jose. He was quick and efficient and we both received “upgrades” to better rooms.

Both couples separated and proceeded to unpack and planned to meet prior to dinner. Once reconvening it was apparent that the upgrades were not the same. We had both booked to stay in the Palace. Shelley and I received a loft suite in the Palace, but the Nolting’s were moved to the Royal Suites. The Royal Suites the “all adult” section on the Palladium resort. It has more amenities and has a dedicated pool that only allows people 18 and older. After this revelation, Shelley and I proceeded back to the front desk to now have a nice discussion about our ability to move with our friends to the Suites.

After 45 minutes of friendly (yet persistent) discussions and pointing out several times that we are repeat customers (3 times) to the Palladium resort, Jose agreed to meet us in the middle. Due to considerable price difference (and our unwillingness to pay said difference) between the Palace and the Suites, he was unable to give us a “complementary upgrade”. He was able to relocate our room to an ocean view in the Palace. In addition to the room move, we finagled the coveted “gold” bracelet that allowed us unfettered access to all the Royal Suites benefits.  We were able to eat in the Royal Gourmet restaurant and hang at the Suites “adults only” pool.  This was a nice compromise (upgrade) and did make the entire vacation even more enjoyable. Thanks Jose! Here are a picture from both our room and pool side.

View from Grand Palladium Palace room 8207View from Grand Palladium Palace room 8207
 
Royal Suites pool sceneRoyal Suites pool scene
 

The first week seemed to move at a nice pace; relaxed and casual. Andy and I had the opportunity to impress the Europeans with our awesome football passing skills while the girls logged many hours of sun worship, reading, and swimming. Each afternoon (~4PM) the pool would typically liven up as people migrated from the beach and landed at the pool for pre-dinner drinks. We befriended a number of people from Germany, UK, Canada, and US.

Andy and Stacy before mexican foodAndy and Stacy before mexican food
 
Chris and Shelley before having some mexican foodChris and Shelley before having some mexican food
 
Chris, Shelley, Anika, and MarcelChris, Shelley, Anika, and Marcel
 
Shelley again...outside the Spanish restaurantShelley again…outside the Spanish restaurant
 

The full album is located here.

Punta Cana 2009

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“The Tradition Continues”

This post is definitely late given that we returned from Punta Cana on July 18th. Busy times lead to prioritization of efforts…the Wykleville blog has taken a back seat. Needless to say, the trip was a hit! As can be seen in the above picture, only two couples (Wykles and Noltings) from the 1st annual adult vacation were able to make it. The Robertsons had family related issues that precluded them from attending the 2nd annual trip. However, in an effort to keep the tradition alive, a flat version of Tina and John made the trip. The “Flat Robertsons” had a blast also! You can see their escapades in a separate photo album here.

 

Given the great success of last year’s trip, the group decided to return to the same resort Grand Palladium Punta Cana Resort and Spa in the Dominican Republic. The resort was the same and the weather cooperated perfectly, with only 30 minutes of total rain fall during our 7 days. The following pictures are a few shot from our first evening in Punta Cana.

First dinner - Punta Cana 2009First dinner – Punta Cana 2009
 
First dinner - Punta Cana 2009First dinner – Punta Cana 2009
 
The whole gang pose with MargaritaThe whole gang pose with Margarita
 

Before leaving the mainland, we decided that we would again go on the Saona Island excursion due to the immense fun that we had last year. We were not disappointed, as the trip proved again that it was a nice distraction from the daily resort laziness. Our videographer turned out to be the same guy from the previous year. Ricardo claimed to remember us from the previous year…I’m not completely convinced, but it made for a cool instant connection.

Heading to SaonaHeading to Saona
 
Chris and Shelley heading to Saona IslandChris and Shelley heading to Saona Island
 
Ready for the gun show!Ready for the gun show!
 
Shelley soaking at Saona IslandShelley soaking at Saona Island
 
Wykle's self portrait in the natural poolWykle’s self portrait in the natural pool
 

This year we decided we would try and venture out and meet some other vacationers. We were quite successful and met many nice Canadians and a group of brothers from England. Here are a couple of pictures of our new vacation friends.

Chris, Shane, Shelley, and Mayra hangin' at the poolChris, Shane, Shelley, and Mayra hangin’ at the pool
 
Cat, Chris, Pedro, and Shelley pose in the poolCat, Chris, Pedro, and Shelley pose in the pool
 
Andy, Phil, Chris and the Flat RobertsonsAndy, Phil, Chris and the Flat Robertsons
 

Conclusions – The second year was as memorable and delightful as the trip last year. We left the island vowing to make the trip again next year. The 7 days of rest and relaxation is therapeutic for both Shelley and I. After 11 years of marriage and kids, it is easy to loose ourselves in the day to day grind and forget about what made us who we are. Love, fun, and sun for us all!!!

Fun For All in Punta Cana

All I can say – “Who is up for the same thing next year?”

Shelley and I just returned from a 7 day all inclusive (adults only) trip to The Grand Palladium Punta Cana Resort and Spa in the Dominican Republic. Under the auspice of our 10th wedding anniversary, Shelley and I decided to treat ourselves to some rest, relaxation, and of course libations!

Back in May we started talking about what we should do this year considering it was our 10th year married (13 years together). Last year for our 9th we had a great time in Chicago over a long weekend. We decided that we needed to step it up a notch. A cruise? Europe? Nope…Punta Cana it will be! We also concluded that it would definitely be more fun if we could get some other couples to join in on the excursion. We floated the idea to a number of friends and two other couples were up for the sun and fun. The Robertson’s (Tina and John) and the Noltings (Andy and Stacy) were both quick to agree to joining in on the adult vacation coup.

This was our first trip to Punta Cana and it came highly recommended by Stacy and Andy that had visited twice previously. The trip we picked was a full inclusive package (flight, hotel, food and adult beverages included) purchased through Apple Vacations – departing from Cincinnati with a direct flight to Punta Cana. It ran July 26th through August 2nd. The picture shown here was our first picture as we set foot into the Punta Cana airport. Look how nice everyone looked. :)

Group shot on arrival at Punta Cana airport.
 

Property – The resort was quite large once we got a chance to explore the whole property. It was made up of three different hotels – Grand Palladium Palace, Grand Palladium Punta Cana, and Grand Palladium Bavaro. All restaurants, shops, pools, and amenities where shared and included in the package. You had your pick of 4 pools, 10 bars, and 9 restaurants within the walls of this resort. Here is a picture of some of the grounds as we walked around. The grounds were nicely kept and included tremendous amounts of tropical vegetation.

Overview of Grounds
 

Grand Palladium resort grounds
 

Grand Palladium Resort grounds
 

View from building 4000
 

Rooms –  The rooms in the Punta Cana were nice and clean and included all of the needed essentials. Our hotel was the smallest of the three, but was the most convenient to the beach. Shelley and I decided to opt for the Junior Suite (see below)…best view in the building (end view and next to beach), but turned out to be a mixed blessing. It was a larger room and had three exterior walls – that made for a warmer room in general. This would be our only complaint regarding the whole experience. Note to self ~ “interior rooms are cooler and darker”.

Junior Suite
 

Food – The food was plentiful and spectacular. We ate at a mixture of buffets and À la carte restaurants. The consensus for the group favorite had to be the Italian restaurant (Mare Nostrum), but all of them had something that everyone could enjoy. I included this shot of one of the buffets because Andy fell in the love with the turkey carving station on the last night’s meal.

Buffets
 

Bars – As described above, you had a wide selection of water holes throughout the complex. Given our location and desire not to unnecessarily walk to far to get our “drunk on”, we mostly gravitated to the Macao Bar. It was located right off the our hotel lobby. It was only 30 yards away from our building 4000. That also meant we could exert the least amount of effort after consuming some of the local beverages. I would have to say the most popular drink consumed by the guys was the only beer available throughout the property – El Presidente. The ladies gravitated more towards the rum or vodka infused juices or “slushies”. During one of our early drinking sessions, we befriended a server by the name of Margarita. She had the nicest personality and was always smiling. From that point on, we went out of our way to end each day drinking, laughing, and communicating (any way we could) with Maragrita.

Hanging at the lobby bar
 

Margarita, Chris, and Shelley
 

Excursions – We booked two different “off property” excursions. One half day trip to Marinarium (snorkeling) and the other full day adventure to Saona Island (boat cruise and dancing). Marinarium was a pretty standard snorkeling trip with the highlight occurring at the end when we got the opportunity to swim with sting rays and nurse sharks. It was quite eerie at first considering these animals are quite large and intimidating, but after a while it was clear that you had nothing to worry about. The Saona Island trip was significantly more enjoyable. The trip does require travel by bus from Punta Cana to the small fishing town where you have to board power boat to reach the island. Once on land, it is clear why this island was discovered by Christopher Columbus, in May 1494 on his way to the Americas. It is simply beautiful and relaxing. We ate, danced, and swam in the ocean until it was time to leave. The remainder of the trip was a leisurely cruise aboard a “party” catamaran. We danced some more while consuming much of the local beverages. I have attached some pictures from the Saona Island trip given that we haven’t developed the underwater camera pictures yet from Marinarium.

On the way to Saona Island
 

Andy striking a provocative pose on the catamaran ride back from Saona Island
 

Group shot on catamaran from Saona Island
 

Shelley and Chris enjoying the catamaran ride back from Saona Island
 

Entertainment – The resort had two different outdoor theaters with nightly shows. The shows would rotate between each of the venues such that each side of the resort would have the opportunity to see every show. Saturday and Sunday were both crowd participation activities that were centered around slap-stick comedy at the guest’s expense. The other nights were mostly musical impersonation shows. One night was all Michael Jackson and was well done. Another night was a mixture of famous acts like Queen, MC Hammer, Madonna, etc… We enjoyed them all.

Conclusions – The first sentence should paint a clear impression of our trip to Punta Cana. Everyone agreed that we would return to the same resort without hesitation. Not withstanding some minor issues (as discussed), the fun and enjoyment was quite abundant. Most importantly, the ability to reconnect with our spouses and friends was an excellent byproduct of the trip. After 10 years of marriage and kids, it is easy to loose ourselves in the day to day grind and forget about what made us who we are. Love, fun, and sun for us all!!!