We love heading south for a winter escape. It all started back in 2006.
We live in a very quiet, friendly and family oriented community. One of those places that when you say nothing ever happens here, it really is true. But for one day that turned into a week in 2006 it wasn’t .
Without getting into specifics, our young next door neighbour and his friend lost their lives at the hands of another. It was a surreal experience that is still very fresh in my mind to this day. As a family it was so hard to comprehend. I really don’t want to get into it beyond that but I will say it was the catalyst that found us looking to escape our ordinary lives for something totally out there.
While our kids were at a bowling party in the mall one day we popped into a travel agency just cause. The agent was able to find what we thought was a smoking deal to Puerto Plata. Our kids had never been on plane, I hated flying and we had no passports but there was a real sense of adventure in just the thought of going.
We didn’t book then but we were seriously thinking of it. Our friends came down later that night and we told them about it. The next thing we knew we were all getting passports and booking a trip. It was exciting, 6 weeks from booking and we would be escaping Nova Scotia’s nasty winter.
A week later our friends told us they decided to get married while we were there. It was so exciting! They had been together a long time and had a 7 year old daughter. Everything about our trip was falling into place.
Two weeks before we left we had a wind storm and a tree fell through the roof of our house into my sons bedroom. What a panic we were in to get that fixed before we left. It all worked out :).
The first trip holds so many memories. While we were heading down the runway my daughter grabbed the sides of here seat and cried. She says to her father ‘Daddy, how hugh are we?’ He looked at me, I looked at him we contained our laughter and told her we hadn’t left the ground yet.
Anyway, four and a half hours after leaving winter in Nova Scotia, we were in sunny Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.
It turned out to be the only trip south we ever took our kids on. After that trip we decided that our winter trips would be for adults only and we would do a separate summer family vacation. Never once regretted that decision.
For a first trip Puerto Plata was awesome. I often say I would like to go back and see if it was as good as we thought now that we have been to other destinations.
We stayed at what was the rhe Occidental Puerto Plata. It is now a Barcelo.
The resort was great. At the time we thought it was huge, we know better now. It was mid-sized. We had an awesome room. The weather, beach and the water were perfect and they did an amazing job on the wedding.
We flew Canjet, which was horrible.
We learned so much from that first trip. What to do, what not to do, what to look for, how to deal with the extremes of TripAdvisor review and many many other things.
I am happy we were able to give our children that experience. It’s something not everyone can do and they enjoyed it as much as a child could. Obviously their routines, eating and other things get all messed up which also made them very happy to get home.
It really was that trip that started us on this journey. We haven’t missed a year since or been to the same resort more than once. There are just too many places and resorts to see to repeat. It would take something from the experience away. Mind you I expect at some point we will find our perfect place, but we haven’t yet. A few are very close and worthy of repeat visits but those are few and far between.
I also dream of doing Europe so I like checking out some of the European brand resorts. You know, get a feel for what we might want to book when we get there.
The people of the Dominican are amazing but the sellers can be very aggressive. Doing tours on your own, especially with kids, is not something I would ever recommend.
We did a dune buggy tour there that was amazing. No other destination buggy rides have even come remotely close.