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Dominican Republic . . . Tropical warmth and sunshine. Rain forests and waterfalls, deserts, palm-tree lined wide golden white sand beaches with exquisite blue ocean. Mangroves, tall mountains and lush green valleys - extremely beautiful, unspoiled, primitive and also third world. The Dominican people are warm and friendly. Most Dominicans still live in wooden shacks, a long way from electricity or water supplies. Education is broken down due to lack of money and relatively few teachers. Wages are low. Illiteracy is widespread.
Children play in the streets with a sticks, hens peck the ground along with chickens, horses and goats graze along road. The countryside is covered with pastel-colored homes with verandas. On each veranda sits a rocking chair. You will seldom see beggars in the Dominican Republic, but you may experience voodoo-dancers, people selling coconuts or selling native paintings. Yet the people remain warm, smiling and receptive -- unhassled and full of enthusiasm.
The Dominican Government. Currently the Dominican government is working to develop a better education system for its people and to develop an Eco-friendly tourism program. The government has a long way to go in keeping up with the rapid pace of growth. The roads can be very poor and pot-holes appear out of nowhere after heavy rainstorms. Don't even think of driving or renting a car. Be safe, not sorry. Tour with the professionals who know the roads, the customs, and the driving (or lack of) regulations.
Resorts. The majority of resorts in the Dominican Republic are Spanish-owned with staff and background training out of Mallorca, Spain. Most of the resorts are all-inclusive and abide by very stringent food preparation and water testing guidelines. Note: the last thing resort management wants is for guests to become ill. Guest rooms are stocked with bottled water. Quite frankly, during all of our visits to the Dominican Republic, neither of us have ever taken ill. Be careful and think.
Medical Services. Resorts have doctors are on call 24-hours per day for a fee.
Hospitals. A modern, fully equipped, professionally staffed hospital is located minutes from the Punta Cana Airport. The Punta Cana hospital is managed by a company based in Spain and is said to be top-notch.
The Dominican Republic has so much beauty to offer tourists and is a true value for the dollar. Take advantage of this magnificent experience -- you won't be sorry you did.
Note for DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Passengers
Dominican Republic law has changed. The Dominican Republic no longer requires a notarized letter for miners who are United States nationals or Canadian Nationals.
If the child's last name of the accompanying parent(s), proof of parentage is required. Parent's name change must be documented (i.e. marriage certificate). If the minor is 14 to 17 on the day of departure, they must hold either a valid passport or a valid, official photo ID along with their birth certificate. Anyone under 18 on the day of departure will be denied boarding if not accompanied by an adult 18 years or older. FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THE ABOVE WILL RESULT IN BEING DENIED BOARDING.
TOP 10 Souvenirs to take to friends & family
Here’s a guide to the most popular souvenirs you can purchase almost anywhere and for sure you can impress your friends, family or decorate your home!
The favorite souvenir is the faceless ceramic doll, which is made from red clay. The outfit is painted in traditional Dominican dress designs. Some dolls depict Dominican country life, balancing baskets or pots on their heads, milling coffee or holding bouquets. Other favorite ceramic items include mugs, plates, vases, and photo frames, most of which are hand-painted.
To take back the real taste of the Dominican Republic you may consider buying richly flavored Dominican coffee, cocoa, or vanilla. These unique items will be sure to remind you of your vacation when you have some back home!
Almost everyone appreciates a good bottle of rum, and the Dominican Republic is well known for the production of this golden-colored drink. There are six distilleries, which produce hundreds of gallons a day. The main brands are Brugal and Barcelo. You will find them at any hotel store or mini-market, in different sizes and shapes, ideal for gifts.
Take back the music of this island to remind you of the good times whether you prefer lively upbeat Merengue, slower, bachata or sexy salsa. The beat is your choice.
Cigar lovers worldwide know that the Dominican Republic has replaced Cuba as a prime exporter of cigars. Cigars can be purchased in the boxes in supermarkets, hotel gift shops or mini markets and individually in small local shops.
Traditional wooden artwork is always an exotic piece to decorate a shelf or the top of a fireplace. They come in all sizes and shapes, mostly as statues of Taino Indians, animals or ashtrays, jewelry boxes or cooking utensils.
Find the artistic flair of Haitian and Dominican paintings as soon as you step into a gift shop. The bright colors, Caribbean motifs and spectacular water sceneries will captivate you immediately. Cheer up that empty wall at home or at the office!
Jewels of the Caribbean: the perfect touch. Whether it’s the ancient Amber stones or the turquoise Larimar jewels, the truth is that this land has found a real treasure in its precious stones. Find all the different sizes, settings and styles in these jewels.
Shell-covered jewelry boxes or photo frames are a cute touch for anyone from Aunt Matilda to niece Cindy. Hand made and decorated with unique shells, they add a lovely decoration to any room.
A photo of you, umbrella cocktail in hand, on the best day of y our vacation, with the most relaxes face ever, tanned by the Caribbean sun and just having a blast!
WEDDINGS IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
After the marriage
You will be given a document that proves the wedding took place. You then need to request a marriage certificate from the local Justice of the Peace. The document issued by the Justice of the Peace is a valid marriage certificate anywhere in the world. It may come in handy to validate the marriage certificate at your consulate in the Dominican Republic, This will be useful if you are considering a name change or applying for a visa for one of the spouses. This process can be carried out by the corresponding foreign-based authorities in the Dominican Republic. Verify if your hotel of choice may include initiating the second part of this validation process in your wedding package for an extra fee. This procedure usually takes about a month. Remember to prepare yourself for the unexpected.
Getting married in another country is a wonderful experience but the language and culture difference could result in some “interesting” surprises. If you just relax and go with the flow, you’re guaranteed to have a perfect wedding day.
The first rule is to be sure you are healthy before you start traveling and all it takes is a bit of planning, eating, carefully while you’re away, and recognizing the early warning signs of possible health-care disasters.
For the Dominican Republic no immunizations or vaccinations are necessary! So taking care in what you eat and drink is the most important health rule; Upset tummies are the most likely travel health problems, but the majority of these will be relatively minor.
Water, drinks and brushing your teeth
Tap water is purified at hotels, but still carry a large quantity of calcium and minerals; which can easily cause tummy upsets. All hotel resorts serve bottled water and at every outside activity you will easily find bottled water. In resorts, all water used for drinks and juices, as well as the ice, is from bottled water, so it’s very safe! Try to avoid consuming ice cream and fruit juice outside the tourist resorts, because it is difficult to determine whether the water used is bottled. Tap water can be used to brush your teeth, as long as it is not swallowed in large amounts.
What you eat
Make sure your diet is well balanced. Fruit you can peel (bananas, oranges or mandarins for example) is always safe and a good source of vitamins. Try to eat plenty of grains (rice) and bread. Remember that although food is generally safer if it is cooked well, overcooked food loses much of its nutritional value. In hot climates make sure you drink enough – do not rely on feeling thirsty to indicate when you should drink. Always carry a bottle of water with you and take regular globs out of it.
Red like a lobster
In the Caribbean you can get sun burnt surprisingly quickly, even on a cloudy day! Use a high factor sunscreen, specific for your skin type, a hat and barrier cream for your nose and lips. Protect your eyes with good quality sunglasses, particularly, if you will be near the sand, sea and the water.
Avoid exposing yourself in the sun during the hottest hours (11:00a.m. until 3:00 p.m.) and for a prolonged time. For kids playing out and about the beach and the pool, it’s a good idea to put sun block on them regularly and have them use baseball caps or funny hats.
If gambling is your top choice then you’re in the right place! Many hotels have a Casino in resort or are very close to one, so gambling can be part of you night out! The most popular gambling spots:
Right at the front door of Princess hotel, Tower Casinos is the largest in Bavaro and the only one with Craps Table. 2,500 mt2. of slot machines Blackjack, Three Card Poker, Tower Poker, Craps, Roulette “O” and “OO”, Baccarat, Midi Baccarat, Fortune roulette and the fun “Dollar Shower”!
Melia Caribe Tropical Casino
Located at the lobby of Melia Caribe Hotel has an exclusive atmosphere and available to guests from other hotels.
Paradisus Punta Cana Casino
The largest after Tower Casinos, located at the lobby area of Paradisus, also open to guests from other hotels.
Located in the Riu Resorts this disco club is one of the first to become a big attraction for the ones who have the nightlife. With concerts of local famous bands and an eccentric combination of International and Caribbean rhythms it is a guarantee for you to experience the night of your life. Request your favorite cocktail and let yourself be driven by the rhythms.
Located in the Flamenco this is the world famous disco with two floors of great music to satisfy all your needs. The first floor will move you with different types of music anything from Merengue, Bachata, Hip-Hop or urban suited for those who love to dance. The top floor will take you away to a world of new age dance beats where you can enjoy the swings that surround the dance floor and if you can come to the extravagant organized events you will never want to leave!
Located in Caribe Club Princess this is one of the newest discos to the Punta Cana Area. Decorated with Indigenes elements and Aborigine cultural objects and just by the name you will see why this disco is a favorite “The dance of the Gods”. In that spirit you can enjoy the exclusive atmosphere. With live shows and events that are organized all the time we know that you will have a fulfilled night.
This bar is one of the well-kept secrets located in the Punta Cana Shopping Center. With eccentric masks to look at with hidden meanings kept inside. You can enjoy the mix of great music and a refreshing cocktail with your friends.Bogey Bar
Inside the White Sands Golf Club (Next to Ocean Blue hotel), this lounge bar is a great starter for a night out! Lounge in the inside sofas or on the balcony overlooking the golf course. Great music!
Soles Chill Out Bar
For full-moon nights, romantic sea side cocktails and great music, go over to the Soles Bar (next to Ocean Bavaro Hotel), where you’ll be able to take off your shoes and have a Caribbean chill out experience.
Places to Go
Sprawling, thriving metropolis with a population of 3 million people, it is the first European settlement in the western Hemisphere. Most of its colonial heritage in preserved in a unique enclave beside the Ozama River in what has become a fascinating Colonial City. Extraordinary 16th century dwellings and imposing late medieval Palaces and Fortresses will captivate your imagination and transport you to Christopher Columbus’s era. UNESCO has declared the Colonial City a world heritage site. Santo Domingo is considered one of the most exciting Caribbean capitals and still preserves much of its Spanish flavor that transpires each of its colonial walls. It is a pleasant place to explore antique monuments and architecture, such as the first cathedral: Santa Maria La Menor and the palace where the conquerors lived: Alcazar de Colon. There are also a diversity of museums such as The Royal House Museum, and small cafes and pedestrian streets that emanate Old World charm and New World romance. Go shopping at “El Condo Street”, a pedestrian road full of Dominican goodies, souvenirs, jewelry and brand stores. The New City overlaps with the Old Santa Domingo and seems to unite in one endless land of excitement. Santo Domingo was founded August 4th 1496 by Bartholomew Columbus, brother of the discoverer. One of the latest monument built in his honor is the Columbus Lighthouse, inaugurated on occasion of the 5th centennial of the arrival of European settlers. Make sure you don’t miss a day of cultural extravagance and Old World treasures.
AT THE HOTEL
Before checking out, please take a last look around your hotel room, checking cupboards, drawers, under and behind the bed, your safety deposit box and your closet.
Check out time in most hotels is at 12:00 noon. You may request a late check out with the hotel’s front desk clerk. These late check outs are upon availability and are subject to possible fees on behalf of the hotel’s policies.
Transfers to the airport are not private (unless pre-booked in advanced) and are not allowed to wait for settling their accounts, waiting for luggage, etc. Please be ready at the hotel lobby 5-10 minutes prior designated pick up time.
If because of medical requirement you need a special seat or have assistance at the airport, please contact your Amstar Representative 48 hours prior to departure. We will gladly send a request to the airline. These requests are never guaranteed or confirmed. If there is a special meal request (vegetarian, baby meal, etc.) we will also send a request to the airline 48 hours prior. These services are requested, not guaranteed
AT THE AIRPORT
On arrival at the airport you may find porters or carts to assist you with your luggage. This service is not complimentary. The going rate is US$ 1.00 per bag. Try to avoid large or heavy carry on bag, in which you should pack: airline tickets, passports, travel documents and identifications, Dominican Tourist card any medication you might need and the departure tax. Remember to wait for your boarding pass and luggage receipts before leaving the counter. If you wish to be seated together with other guests, hand in your documents all together. Can be requested, but never guaranteed. Have your boarding passes handy when proceeding to the departure areas. You will be asked to present them before proceeding through the x-ray checkpoint.
There are restaurants/snack bars, small shops and restrooms inside the airport terminals and waiting areas. Duty free shopping is available at both departure terminals after passing the x-ray checkpoints.
If you still have Dominican pesos to exchange back to dollars, the rate is generally better at exchange windows before the checkpoint.
The US Customs Service currently permits US citizens returning from International travel US$ 600.00 of merchandise duty free. 100 cigars (Any non-Cuban cigars) and 200 cigarettes (1 carton), may be included in your exemption. If you are 21 years of age or older, 2 liters of alcoholic beverages are allowed per person. Any more over this limit are subject to duty and internal revenue tax. Please, refer to your customs declaration provided to you during your return flight for details. And remember! As soon as you get home, show everyone your vacation pictures, have some of the homemade coffee or cocoa you purchased here and then start thinking about your next vacation!
Fill out a tourist card, fast!
After purchasing the tourist card, fill it our while you are in line. Have handy your Passport, so you can quickly write down your passport number. The Customs officer will keep the top half and place the second half in your passport for your departure. Keep this second half safe in your hotel Safety deposit box. If you lose it, it’s OK, no worries, you’ll just have to buy a new one at the airport when you leave.
Since you have time during your vacation, you can fill out the second half any time before your departure date. Have your flight info and passport handy for information about flight numbers and airline!
Remember! When you arrive, the DESTINATION box will be the place you have just arrived into. And when you are departing, the DESTINATION box will be the first city you are flying into from Dominican Republic!
Check with your Amstar Representative one day before your departure for updated flight info and the time you will be picked up at the hotel to go to the airport.
. . . To Do in Punta Cana . . .
Shop till you drop!
Bavaro Shopping Center: Located across from Caribe Club Princess. This shopping center has a wide variety of clothing shops and inside you will also find the Caribbean Coffee lounge, with a variety of great coffee. We call it “The Dominican Starbucks”
Plaza Bavaro: One of the largest shopping center filled with Dominican souvenirs and stores that offer all the extras that you might need on your trip, anything from Drug stores to beach clothing. Located next to Occidental Flamenco Hotel.
Plaza Punta Cana: Located across from Occidental Flamenco, this shopping center offers a wide variety of the Dominican Souvenirs and to help you choose you will find an excited group of vendors.
El Cortesito Flee Market: located right next to the beach you will find several stores with a wide selection of Dominican Souvenirs and Caribbean style clothing. You will also find several restaurants that offer magnificent seafood if you want to stop in between your shopping and grab a bite to eat.
Don Lucas Cigars: If you love cigars this is the spot for you!! This center will offer the purest cigars the Dominican Republic has to offer and to prove their reputation they will gladly make them right in front of you. You can check the different types of cigars when you have a walk around the conventional factory.
Harrison’s Jewelry Store: One of the finest jewelry stores in the Bavaro area. Here you will find a stunning selection of jewelry made with the Larimar and Amber stones that are traditional of the Dominican Republic. They also offer a wide selection of other different tyoes of beautiful jewelry sets.
Through brands like Leon Jimenes, Davidoff, Ashton and Arturo Fuentes along others, the Dominican Republic, in the last 2 decades, has become the other great cigar country, surpassing Cuba in exportation. In 1994, the Dominican Republic became the world’s largest hand-made cigar exporter: 90 million units compared to 55 million units from Cuba.
Not surprisingly, virtually every visitor to this country is interested in buying cigars (Called “Puros” in Spanish) and even if you are not a smoker, chances are your friends or colleagues will beg you to bring them back some fine Dominican cigars.
But now you go to the hotel store and you find so many different brands that come in so many different sizes, colors and even flavors that you just don’t know which one to choose!
What do you do? Well, don’t panic! We will give you a few tips:
- If you are a beginner in the fine art of cigar smoking, it is not necessary to go with the most expensive brands. Most Dominican cigars are of such a good quality that you will hardly ever go wrong with any brand you select.
- You will find a type of cigars that are dark brown color called “Maduros”. They are more robust in flavor, and if you aren’t used to them – they can make you dizzy!
- The different cigar names you normally hear: “Chur-chill”, “Corona”, “Robusto”, and “Torpedo” amongst others refer to the size of the cigar (suit yourself!)
- Cigars must be kept in a temperature controlled environment to maintain good quality, therefore be cautious about buying cigars that are not kept under these conditions.
- Before smoking them, you are supposed to remove the label. But then again, how will your friends know that you are smoking a fine cigar?
- By all means, do not have a shot of ‘151 Rum’ at the same time that you are smoking a cigar! You are likely to get in an accident and doctor services are not part of the all-inclusive.
Remember that you can bring up to 100 Dominican cigars per person to the US (subject to minimum age law of the state you are entering in the US).
Always check with the Representative at the hotel for the best place to buy cigars near your hotel.
Golf In Punta Cana
Cocotal Golf & Country Club
Spectacular setting among coconut trees. Settled on what once was a coconut plantation renowned by the architect Jose “Pepe” Gancedo, six time Spanish Champion, designed the two courses following the lay of the land, using natural terrain to provide a route easily remembered long after the player finishes. Their trademark features are strategically placed trees, bunkers, mounds and gently rolling terrain with well-defined and generous fairways and greens without forgetting an unrelenting wind.
Swing by the Ocean
Bound for worldwide recognition is the spectacular seaside golf course designed by the talented P.B. Dye. Fourteen holes feature breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea and four play along the sea itself. In true Dye form, P.B. has crafted each hole to present its own unique challenge: always memorable.
GOLF LA ROMANA
Casa de Campo
TEETH OF THE DOG
A bite of challenge
Ranked the number one course in the Caribbean and 34th in the top 100 courses in the world by Golf Magazine, play Teeth’s seven holes directly on the Caribbean Sea. The “teeth” course attracts the best professional and amateur golfers in the world. Tricky shots include a devilish dogleg and signature Dye obstacles such as elevated greens and trick of the eye trees. Top-notch caddies are ready and eager to guide you through the terrain.
Course Length/Par (All Tees):
Course Slope/Rating (All Tees):
Ladies’ Middle 139/75.4,
Ladies Forward 130/72.9
Link the Drive
It has spectacular views of the Caribbean and the resort. It offers an undulating layout reminiscent of traditional British and Scottish courses, featuring small greens and several lakes. Ask any golfer who has played “The Links” and you will hear that this course is equally as challenging as the “Teeth of the Dog”.
Back Tee M: 6,650/70.0/124
Front Tee M: 6,900/74.1/116
Back Tee L: 6,100/70.1/123
Front Tee L: 6,057/75.4/113
Altos de Chavon
By the rivers of Paradise
Of the 18 picturesque holes on the Dye Fore course, number 12 and number 15 are two of the greatest par three holes in the world. This new addition to the Casa de Campo golf triad is said to rival the “Teeth of the Dog” course. Dye Fore has spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea, the mountains, the Chavon River below and the Altos de Chavon artists’ village.
Course Length/Par (All Tees):
Black: 77.0 134
Blue: 73.4 125
Blue: 71.3 123
White: 69.3 121
White for Ladies: 75.8/125
Red: 70.8 115
Music that’s called Merengue!
Each town or village in Dominican Republic has a fluent tune usually blaring from a small radio with humongous speakers. And almost every time, the tune is accompanied by gently moving people just swaying to the rhythms of a contagious beat: “The Merengue”.
Merengue is the national dance of this cheerful island. The melodies find their way into every radio station worldwide. If you think you have never heard it, try remembering a fun Latin sound of drums, accordion and guitars that easily flows into your body, making your shoulder beat and your head to move from side to side. That’s the real Caribbean music: a mix of Africian sounds and dances further developed in the Antilles and blended with American musical influences. Already at the beginning of the last century, Merengue was a hit in the Dominican Republic, before reaching Cuba and Puerto Rico. The original instruments combined in the Merengue are “Tambora” (drums), Accordion and “Guira”.
Want to learn to dance it?? Our quick dance lesson will help you out!
Remember that Merengue is all about fun, so you just have to follow the contagious rhythm to enjoy it! The secret is to move your hips from left to right constantly…That’s right, don’t stop, don’t stop! Now you can move around doing steps to the right or to the left while still moving your hips. Turn around and go back to your original position! To practice, you can check on the activities board with the animation team of your hotel for the Merengue lesson.
If you’re planning to bring some music CD’s home, the most popular Merengue groups are: Ruby Perez, Juan Luis Guerra, Sergio Vargas, Los Toro’s Band and El Jeffrey.
Getting Pampered and Loving Every Minute of it!
Spas in the Dominican Republic: your second best place in the resort. (First one is the pool!) One of the reasons why we go on vacations is precisely to relax and take it easy. And what better place for this than the hotel Spa. Most hotels in Punta Cana have their own Spa where the guests have the opportunity of being pampered and treated like royalty. Your hotel Spa provides a soothing retrieve where you can escape from the ordinary and indulge yourself in a very well deserved body treatment. We know that each Spa-goer has a very personal wish list. This category for special interests cuts to the chase presenting the most popular:
Massage: With aromatic oils, Swedish massage, Anti stress (because we know you work hard). Oriental massages (Shiat Su) And many, many, many, more…
Facilities: Sauna, Jacuzzi, Steam Room, Vichy Shower.
Go ahead and make your friends back home jealous! Wanna’ know how? Have your hair braided and look like a movie star! Choose from full head braids, braid per unit, or braid extensions!
To book your Dominican Republic Vacation Packages Call toll-free: 877-380-4142
email: [email protected]
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