Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Dominican Republic

Sivory Punta Cana Dominican Republic

We were looking for a peaceful escape. Though typically not beach people I could think of nothing I wanted more than to, in the words of Sue Ellen Crandell, go to the beach take a towel and a Walkman and lie in the sand and rub oil on myself.

After weeks of pouring over travel websites and reading hundreds of posts we decided on 7 all-inclusive nights in a Luxury Ocean Front Junior Suite at Sivory in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. It was a new hotel, having just opened at the end of 2005, and online looked exactly like what we were looking for.

We flew non-stop from Philadelphia to Punta Cana International Airport on USA3000 and upgraded to strawberries and champagne (i.e. first class) to get us excited for the week! Upon arrival we experienced for the first time deplaning on the runway rather than that giant white E.T. tube connecting the plane to the airport. And by "airport" I mean large thatched-roofed hut.  We decided this is how you know you are in a tropical paradise.  All that was missing was Mr. Rork.

We had booked a shuttle through the hotel which was about an hour ride.  The resort is remote in regard to the airport and in regard to other lodgings-which for us was perfect. The front desk warmly welcomed us, gave us a tour of the property, and escorted us to our room. Everything  inside was *exactly* as it appeared on the website and everything outside was surrounded by lush trees and vegetation to keep our private tropical paradise private. We loved it!

Our "itinerary" differed little daily. Each morning the staff would leave a giant tray of pastries and juice and fruit outside our door. Generally wed still be so full from dinner the night before that wed keep these items for lunch or snacks later in the day. Also each morning wed find a crab in our plunge pool! Wed use one of the resort-provided umbrellas and gently lower it down next to the little guy. Hed angrilly (fearfully?) latch on and wed slowly bring him up and out of the water and release him by the shoreline.

Though guests could book excursions through the front desk our days were spent doing exactly what we had hoped: nothing! Wed either head to the shaded chaise lounges by our private plunge pool (where we thought some kind of random out of place "vendor" but who we later learned was a resort employee "psst" us from the group of palm trees nearby holding a machete asking us if we wanted a coconut) or under a private palapa just steps away on the beach (it was here I read Memoirs of a Geisha and Chris slept).  Sometimes wed take a walk to the pool area and get a snack from the bar.  You can also stroll down the beach a ways to the closest neighboring hotel but you must beware of wild dogs.  The resort offered us complimentary use of water sport equipment so we gave the kayak a try for about a minute-the water was pretty choppy so we abandoned this as well as other undersea exploration.

After the obligatory late-day beach vacation nap wed prepare for dinner which could be had at one of three restaurants on premises (one of which was part of our all-inclusive). We arent "foodies" but our impression was the food was fine, nothing special, and did become a bit repetitive after a few days. Furthered likely in my case by animal-free requests.

We did have some spa treatments. We had a couples full-body massage which was only ok. And had manis and pedis (yep, Chris's first) which were fine, nothing special. What was impressive though were the other aspects of the spa. It offered a jacuzzi, a large "pool" with various jets and some huge "spouts" you could stand under, ice fountains (bucket with pull string), and a sauna. The spa staff explained the purpose and benefit of doing these activities in a particular order which we found interesting. We easily spent hours here.

It rained only a couple of times and didnt last too long or otherwise have a negative impact on our stay. During the storms you can nap, play a game, take a candle-lit bath...or other fun things. Although I should say here that when the front desk escorted us to our room upon check in she showed us bug spray in the closet near the glass entrance to the back patio/plunge pool area and explained when it rains it can get buggy (which it did-just right there at that one glass area). Otherwise bugs were never a problem.

And neither were other people.  Because there were none.  Days went by without seeing anyone else at the resort besides the staff-we really had the place to ourselves.  Later in the week a few other couples arrived but it was never busy or crowded in the least.  There was never a time more than a few other people were nearby, and there were only a few times ANYone was nearby.  It was really very nice and we felt like we had our own private island.

If you enjoy the typical "nightlife" I probably wouldnt choose this resort unless you just loved everything else about it so much you were willing to endure the logistical hurdles. Nights were quiet and relaxing and for us meant having a drink at the bar and ending our day in our private plunge pool under the stars.

Sivory gave us exactly what wed been looking for.

Sivory Punta Cana Luxury Ocean Front Junior Suite

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