When Carrie Bradshaw of Sex in the City found herself with a broken heart, she headed to an all-inclusive. It worked for her, so I figured it would work for me too. Grabbing my passport, a bikini and the chicest sunglasses I own, I hopped a plane bound for the Dominican Republic. To soothe over the bitterness of life, I spent a week lounging and luxuriating next to a beach with water the color of my favorite jewelry box.
Why Stay at an All-Inclusive
Waking up on a recent Wednesday morning, I grabbed my passport and hopped a plane headed for the Caribbean. I needed a faraway place that would drown out a nation of jabbering. Only a week of lounging in a white curtained cabana while listening to the waves crash against a beach of sugar white sand would do. The idea of not thinking for a week was divine. Even better, soothing my soul with a glass of champagne that never seemed half-empty.
The moment I landed at the Punta Cana International Airport in the Dominican Republic, my resort, Ocean Blue and Sand by H10 Hotels, took care of me. As the National Parks TravelingMom of three, I forgot how nice it is to be indulged. It’s been so long since I had someone catering to my pleasure, namely a butler. Since my kids were school, I left the hiking boots at home and slipped on a pair of espadrilles and packed sundresses in every color of the rainbow.
The Ocean Blue and Sand All-Inclusive Resort
On the western edge of the Dominican Republic, about 12 miles from the airport, I arrived at the private lobby for Privilege-level guests at the Ocean Blue and Sand All-Inclusive Resort. I sat down in a plush chair as the concierge offered me a hot towel and a glass of champagne.
My flight might have been economy but my resort was first-class. Moments later, my butler arrived to drive me to my suite, one of 708 suites. I felt like I had arrived at Fantasy Island when I stepped into his golf cart.
My Privilege Suite at Ocean Blue and Sand
My butler showed me around my Privilege-level Junior Suite in building 10, the closest building to the beach. From my balcony, I enjoyed a view of the ocean from a wicker chair with a matching ottoman. The perfect place to witness the spectacular sunrise as I began my day with some in-room coffee.
The regular suites offer many of the same amenities as the privilege-level rooms. Privilege suites are larger and located closest to the beach and featured upgraded bathrooms with designer touches, like vessel sinks. Privilege guests have a separate lobby for checking in and receive welcome gifts along with a nightly turndown service. Bathrobes, slippers, upgraded beach towels and liquor minis are included in the privilege-level suites, and not included in the regular suites.
My large suite offered lots of seating, I found a small white leather settee with a pull-out bed and a cocktail table. The upholstered chair with matching ottoman and reading lamp called me to read.
The credenza offered functionality with an area for working with task lighting, electrical outlets and a pair of USB outlets along with a mounted 32-inch flat screen TV. Below the credenza top, I found the beverage station with a mini bar stocked with complimentary bottled water, single-serve liquor bottles with some mixers and an in-room coffee and tea service (included for privilege-level guests in the all-inclusive price). I delighted in the deluxe ice bucket, the glassware and ceramic mugs.
My suite included numerous electrical outlets and air-conditioning with a ceiling fan. The closet offered an in-room safe that fit my large laptop along with my camera and purse. I found more drawers along with an iron and a golf umbrella.
The bathroom featured a whirlpool tub and separate glass-enclosed shower with rain shower head and hand-held wand. The vanity featured two separate vessel sinks on top of a travertine counter. The bathroom’s travertine tile matched the flooring throughout my suite. During my stay, I enjoyed deluxe toiletries and complimentary bottled water.
Dining at Ocean Blue and Sand
I found most of the restaurants centrally located near the main lobby, including the buffet, El Carey and Tortuga. The Privilege-level rooms also enjoy 24-hour room service. The Villa Marina, located beachside, offers traditional breakfast options with a view for Privilege-Level guests.
Dinner in the restaurants is included in the all-inclusive price for all guests though privilege-level guests can make a reservation. Beer and national cocktails (rum drinks) are included, wine is an additional charge. One lobster entree is included for privilege-level guests per stay.
I ate at the main buffet for lunch and several breakfasts. With plenty of seating and waiters offering water and coffee in the morning, the buffet exceeded my expectations for breakfast and lunch.
The buffet offered something for everyone, from cosmopolitan Europeans to picky 5-year-olds. With a rotating 14-day menu of international favorites, I found a pasta station, a couple of grill stations with traditional burgers to seafood and beef, a salad bar, a cheese and cold cuts station, several daily soups, along with several Caribbean specialties and Mexican favorites.
Since I used to live in Las Vegas, I’ve sampled a lot of buffets and can say the Ocean Blue and Sand’s buffet offers lots of fresh options. I never walked away from the buffet with the over-stuffed feeling from loading up on fried food and carbs.
I delighted in the fresh juice bar, the ready-made mimosas and make-your-own Bloody Marys. A dessert station with ice cream sundaes can’t be passed up and stocked with yogurt and platters of fresh topical fruit. The Dominican Republic pineapple I sampled is the juiciest and sweetest around since it’s tree-ripened.
During my stay, I stopped at Mike’s Coffee every afternoon where I enjoyed a Caribbean coffee with espresso, cinnamon, chocolate and rum. It also serves a light lunch and desserts though it doesn’t open until 9 a.m.
Restaurants at Ocean Blue and Sand
Each evening I sampled a different restaurant that offered a bit of fine dining in the middle of the Caribbean. With the help of white tuxedo-jacketed waiters, I enjoyed a culinary journey during my stay at Ocean Blue and Sand that exceeded my expectation for dinner dining at an all-inclusive.
The Italian restaurant, I Mascherati di Vencia, I found traditional Italian appetizers and pasta dishes. Looking for a lighter option, I ordered a seafood option. For a special treat, the Sambuca liquor set on fire as the waiter toasted it tableside to accompany traditional tiramisu.
At Sensai, the Japanese Steakhouse, I took a seat facing the chef who entertained us by tossing ingredients into the air as he cooked up traditional Japanese favorites. I sampled sushi and sake, then dined on chicken and beef stir fry with fried rice.
Bluemoon, an adults-only restaurant with a dress code, offers French-inspired selections for a fine dining palate like terrines and ratatouille. I enjoyed the carved lobster with its elegantly plating along with other Caribbean seafood specialties.
To enjoy the flavors of the Caribbean, I dined at the Villa Marina, next to the beach. I sampled ceviche with a Caribbean twist along with a traditional seafood stew. All the restaurants serve delectable desserts with at least one chocolate choice that pairs well with coffee or an after dinner drink.
Despacio – the Spa at Ocean Blue and Sand
During my stay at Ocean Blue and Sand, I enjoyed an afternoon at the spa located on the premises. As I walked through the doorway, the scent of lemongrass lifted my travel-weary spirit.
The welcoming staff escorted me to my lounge and offered a glass of infused ice water as they placed a warm lavender-scented pillow around my neck to ease my muscles.
After breathing deeply and letting my muscles relax, my therapist escorted me to a private room. I found a large therapy room outfitted with a dressed massage table, a therapy tub, and a small shower. During my visit, I enjoyed a thorough massage and a facial.
Spa patrons can use the outdoor pool and I found an outdoor area for treatments. The Despacio offers hair dressers, nail technicians, fish pedicures, a sauna and separate dressing rooms.
Entertainment at Ocean Blue and Sand
Though I found my suite lovely, I didn’t spend much time in it. Instead I enjoyed the private beach for the Privilege-level guests that boasts white-draped sun loungers with waiter service and upgraded towels. Though each night after dinner, I explored Ocean Blue and Sand’s nightlife.
If the sun was up, I was at the beach. I found plenty of beach loungers for the non Privilege-level guests, though no sun shades. The beach at the Ocean Blue and Sand includes a beach volleyball court, a climbing wall and gazebo. The diving center, Dive It! Scuba and Fun, is a PADI diving center that offers certification and snorkeling excursions. I found two bars in the beach area.
The Ocean Blue and Sand features two large outdoor pools, one with one swim-up bar and a spa. The pools dominate the central area between the opposing buildings that flank the edge of the resort property. I found lots of loungers and the pool area is the go-to spot for fun-loving adults with activities like a DJ, contests and lots of frozen tropical drinks.
I found a shallow kids pool area though no themed waterscape.
The open-air lobby bar features live music most nights that belts out popular dancing hits with lots of seating. This is the place for adults that are too tired for the disco but don’t want to call it a night. Or enjoy a quiet cocktail and some conversation in the piano bar located behind glass doors nearby, though I wish the piano bar was open later. It closed at 11 p.m. during my visit.
Ocean Blue and Sand features a casino, a disco, and a sports bar, all open until the sun rises. I enjoyed a 70s-themed show one evening packed with hits. After the performers belted out the hits from Diana Ross to the Jackson 5, they stopped by the lobby bar and entertained guests as an encore. After a night of disco dancing, the Over Time Sports Bar is the place for the local beer, Presidente, and some late night French fries.
Kids and Teens at Ocean Blue and Sand
The littlest guests (4 to 12) have a delightful clubhouse with daily activities like crafts and special snacks. Kids will stay entertained during the morning, have lunch with their parents and return for the afternoon. (Club hours are 9:45 a.m. to noon, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.)
Activities include bowling, swimming (pool only), tennis and arts and crafts. Snacks include ice cream, popcorn and cotton candy.
For the older kids, I found a teen club above the bowling alley. Equipped with 6 gaming stations, air hockey, Foosball and pool tables; it’s open until 1 a.m. The bowling alley below features six full-sized lanes.
For this trip, I left the kids at home since it’s during the school year. As of Mom of three, 9, 12 and 14, I could see my youngest loving the Daisy Club but my 12-year old son would prefer to hang out in teen club. My 14-year old daughter would probably skip both and lounge on a chaise, alternating between the pool and beach.
Adventures Outside the Ocean Blue and Sand
The Dominican Republic offers surfing opportunities, cultural heritage experiences, lessons in their culinary history and the chance to feed monkeys. I enjoyed a full-day excursion with Bavaro Runners where I did all that.
Note: During my stay at the Ocean Blue and Sand, the beach had significantly eroded during a storm. The property was working overnight to rehabilitate the beachfront. Half of the beach had been repaired during my trip in November 2016.
- A 30-day tourist card and a valid passport for all travelers is required to enter the Dominican Republic at the Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ). I paid the fee of $10 US per person in cash since I could bypass the ATM-type machine and give cash to the airport personnel instead.
- Ocean Blue and Sand uses the standard 110-volt 3-pin North American electrical plugs; no need for a conversion kit.
- The water from the bathroom sinks is NOT potable, use bottled water from the mini-fridge to brush your teeth. All drinking water served in the restaurants is safe to drink.
- I used U.S. dollars for tips and didn’t bother to exchange money during my trip. All large purchases were made with a credit card.
- Spanish is not necessary but it’s nice to know a few words as a courtesy to the staff and the locals.
Tips from a TravelingMom:
- The buildings don’t have elevators but my butler hauled up my bags. Families with smaller kids and babies might want a ground-level room.
- The resort property is large, pack comfy walking shoes.
- Women tend to wear dresses for dinner.