Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor

Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 115
May 15, 2001

Last Update 12 May 2001

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The  following items about Cuba were culled from "Cuba Unlimited" and 
submitted by Ileana Carreño of Inter-Active Travel

Moon Handbooks: Steering Travelers Straight

There's  nothing  better  for  a  traveler  than to listen to someone 
who's  already  been  there.  As  such, we'd like to steer you to the 
second  edition  (2000)  of  Moon  Handbooks: Cuba, by Christopher P. 
Baker, a learned explorer of the island .

  The  packed  Handbook  has  827  pages  of  geography,  culture and 
society,  as  well  as  legal  advice,  history  and  suggestions for 
recreational  activities.  He includes both private and State lodging 
options  with  prices,  addresses  and  telephones,  without  missing 
restaurants,  night clubs and cultural activities. If you remember to 
carry  this  guide in your luggage, it will probably never leave your 
hand  while  here. On our site click "Your Favorite 
Guides to Cuba" for this jewel and more.

Barracuda School and Diving Center

An  ACUC-certified at Varadero beach, the facility covers a 64 km (40 
mi)  diving  zone  along both sides of the Hicacos peninsula, between 
the  Florida  straits  and  Cardenas  bay.  There  are 21 buoy-marked 
diving  sites  between  4  and  30 meters, with caves, tunnels, coral 
reefs,   sponges,  sea  fans,  shad,  pompanos,  Atlantic  spadefish, 
snapper,  grouper,  sharks,  manta  rays,  barracuda, dolphin, grunt, 
dogfish,  whale  sharks  and  more.  The Saturno cave experience will 
leave  you dazed: it is a fresh and saltwater-filled cavern with some 
of  the  most  impressive  stalagmites  and stalactites you have ever 
seen.  The  center  has  Cressi  diving  subs, regulators with second 
auxiliary  stages, pressure gauges, bathymeters and more, and one can 
also  outfit  oneself.  Their  courses run from Beginner to Advanced, 
with  internationally valid certificates and experienced instructors. 
The  nearest  hotels  are  Cuatro Palmas, Copey Resort and Dos Mares, 
close to many night clubs, restaurants, bars and shops.

Professional divers should bring their certificates, because
non-card-carriers will have to take a shallow water test with
an instructor to be able to go on a deep dive.
For diving package reservations or course applications write: or call (53-7) 55 3980

Los Frailes Hostal Opens

The  sermons  and  chanting  from  the San Francisco de Asis Basilica 
have  overflowed  to  the nearby Los Frailes Hostal. Recently opened, 
innkeepers  dressed  as monks provide chambers for true believers and 
the   less  devout  on  calle  Teniente  Rey  #  8  entre  Oficios  y 
Mercaderes,  just  a few meters from Old Havana's Plaza Vieja. Former 
residence  of the French Creole Pedro Pablo Duquesne, it recreates an 
ecclesiastic environment with sextants, oil
lamps, irises, crucifixes and beautiful murals.

There are three floors with 18 windowless cells including:
·air conditioning
·candle-shaped lamps
·antique writing desk
·security box

The  four  suites  have  extraordinary views of the Old City, the bar 
and  restaurant are excellent, and there are plenty of cafeterias and 
restaurants  outside.  It's  a  gracious, heavenly spot to stay, with 
the best in modern tourism: a monk should
have it so nice!

Reservations: or telephone (53-7)

Varadero Golf Resort

The  former  mansion  of  the  Dupont  family  in  Varadero  is now a 
clubhouse  for  a  world-class  golf course next to a beach that will 
make  your jaw drop. Sand traps, waterholes and a constant sea breeze 
provide  a  challenging  game,  and  the five-star Melia Las Americas 
hotel  borders  the  course. The resort and course are less than five 
miles   from   the   village   of   Varadero  and  20  from  Matanzas 
international  airport.  The  hotel has 340 rooms with a seaside view 
and is easily one of the highest ranking in its category.

Reservations: or telephone (53-7)



When  we  arrived at Our Lucaya I entered my room at Lighthouse Point 
and  found a balcony facing the setting sun, a large luxurious living 
space,  and  a  yellow  hand  blown  glass plate full of treats for a 
weary  traveler.  We  were  at  the eastern end of a wide white beach 
right  next to the Grand Canal where the gentle traffic of yachts and 
working  boats  paraded  slowly. Palm trees and grass, twinkling aqua 
pools  and  sparkling turquoise ocean were the view. There were paths 
just  begging  to be followed which disappeared through wide gardens, 
around a gazebo and up the beach.

I  was thinking that we might find this brand new resort only half an 
hour  from  Miami  more crowded than we like. With over 1300 beds the 
place  certainly can rock, but because of the careful design involved 
in  creating  Our  Lucaya,  it was jazzy and sociable where you would 
expect  it  to  be,  and  serenely quiet where that was desirable. In 
fact,  there  were  four  different lifestyles represented on the 372 
acres  of beachfront. Combined they offer 14 restaurants & lounges, a 
camp  for  kids  & babies, three very distinctive freshwater swimming 
areas  with  multiple  pools each, a golf course, several outdoor hot 
tubs,  full  conference facilities, and one of the nicest spas I have 
ever  seen.  The varied facilities were comfortably spaced apart with 
paths to connect them, and each had paths to the wide white beach.

Every  day  we  walked  past the spa located at Lighthouse Point. The 
graceful  style  of  the  place  eventually drew me out of the sun. I 
indulged  in  a  signature  treatment  one  afternoon. They use fresh 
herbs  infused  into  the  air and water as they scrub, stimulate and 
massage  all  parts  of your body. The hydro-beds were new to me, and 
there  is  a sparkling clean feeling that the herbs in the water, and 
in  the  massage oils impart to your skin. They serve teas before and 
during  each  signature  treatment,  picked fresh from local gardens. 
These  create  delicious  and refreshing blends that treat you on the 

Just  across  from  the Manor House, the path ends at a rabbit warren 
of  over  80  very  sophisticated  shops, and beyond that a very nice 
marina.  Navigation  is  a  bit  tricky  here as the buildings have a 
charming  kind  of  organic  growth  arrangement  to  them. Surprises 
abound,  such  as  the  fresh  fruit  stand  where  they open a fresh 
coconut  for  its milk, and serve you a frozen pina colada inside the 
shell.  This  small  oasis was free standing between small Easter egg 
colored  buildings  offering  some of the world's most famous jewelry 
designers'  work  at astonishingly inexpensive rates. I was very hard 
pressed  to  lead  a  friend  back  to it the following day, but that 
attempt  revealed  many  shops and open air stalls that we had missed 

The  marina  on  the  far side of the shops was also a surprise. Many 
famous  superyachts  were  there  along  with  liveaboard  boats  and 
working  boats  with a neighborhood atmosphere about the whole place. 
Next  door  is UNEXSO, which is one of only three places in the world 
where  you can meet dolphins who are there by choice. There are pens, 
but  the  main  purpose  is  to keep dolphin-eating sharks out. These 
pens  are  easily  and  frequently jumped over by the dolphins who go 
out  for a romp and later return to the safe haven. Meeting a dolphin 
in  such  a  friendly  environment  is  a lovely thing. Once you have 
looked  into  the eyes of such a sweet and clearly intelligent animal 
you will always remember it with a smile.

Each  day  as  the  sun  crossed the yardarms we took the path up the 
beach  which  ends  at  Billy  Joe's Sand Bar. For people like us who 
just  love  wooden picnic tables on the sand, cold beers from a shack 
with  no  sides,  fresh wood fire grilled fish and the camaraderie of 
locals,  Billy Joe's was the perfect place to watch the sunset. Under 
the  palms  at  the  edge  of the ocean the brilliant orange sun slid 
gracefully  over  the  blue  horizon  as we happily dug our toes into 
warm  sand. Our Lucaya offers about five different flavors of sunset, 
so whatever your preference, you can find it.

In  the course of three nights my friends and I followed the paths to 
three  very different places for dinner. Under seemingly endless palm 
trees  serving  delicacies from all zones of the Pacific Rim is China 
Beach.  A Sushi bar and private tables behind carved screens surround 
the  fully  exposed  kitchen,  surrounded  by  the beach. Churchill's 
Chophouse  offers  carefully selected cuts of beef, vintage wines and 
live  music  from the baby grand in the corner. I had prime rib which 
was  carved tableside, and a baked artichoke. Both were as good as it 
gets!  Willy  Broadleaf's theme is that of the adventurer. You wander 
through  a  Mediterranean  palace,  an  Egyptian  open-air  market, a 
Saharan  buffet  and  a  Mexican  cafecita.  I  got  lost for a while 
roaming  around  among huge tapestries, shelters made of palm fronds, 
and   columns  surrounding  Mediterranean  tile.  Each  area  had  an 
impressive  buffet  set  up against the spectacle of its own open-air 
kitchen.  The  variety  of choices and smells was intoxicating and we 
all ate too much!

Nightlife  there  has  as much variety at the end of each path as the 
dining.  We  went  dancing  at the Prop Club with its exotic lighting 
and  curious blend of Calypso and Jankanoo music. During the day this 
place  is a full-blown sport bar with nine TVs, basketball courts and 
a  view  over  the  beach  volleyball  nets. Another evening found us 
sitting  on  big  rocking  chairs listening to live music and sipping 
island  run  at  Portabellos.  Most evenings ended with a bit of time 
spent  at  the  Havana  Cay  Cigar  Bar,  with its dark wood, leather 
chairs, fine cognac and quiet jazz.

Our  Lucaya  is a masterful blend of differing experiences at the end 
of  each  path.  We  found  just what we wanted, peaceful days, quiet 
dinners   and   long  lingering  evenings.  I  observed  that  people 
traveling  with  children found plenty to do with them, but when they 
wanted  to  play  golf  or  dine  privately,  Camp Lucaya was a great 
diversion  for  the  kids.  Singles can find plenty of places to make 
new  friends and dance until the sun comes up. Life is good along the 
paths at Our Lucaya. 
--------------------- Sidebar Information ----------------
Our Lucaya
Information 877.687.5822
Online reservations:

Next to Port Lucaya
Information: 373.1244

To  enter  the  Bahamas  you  need  to have a driver's license plus a 
certificate  or  a  passport.  There  is  a  departure tax of $18 per 

American  Airways,  American  Eagle,  Continental,  TWA are among the 
which travel to Grand Bahama Island.

A few of the 400 slides as low res online samples


Trip April 2001

After 6 years I returned to Cozumel for 5 days. 

The  major  changes were the existence 4-6 cruise ship daily, and the 
many  "tourist"  and  jewelry  stores  Cozumel is still a great place 
with  the  town  of  San  Miguel  and  good  diving.  We arranged our 
vacation  through  Continental  vacations. The weather was perfect, I 
did  not  sweat as much as I did during my previous visit. Getting To 
Cozumel  From/to  Baltimore  Through  Houston was un eventful. We had 
great  connections  and  by  11:00  am  we  were in Cozumel ( 2 hours 
difference  than  EST).  We  stayed  at  the Coral Princess, which is 
located  North  of  town  (23 pesos = 2.3 dollars taxi ride to town). 
The  hotel  and  location were a great choice, other than the taxi to 
meet  the  dive  boat.  We  dove  with Paradise Divers, paid a little 
extra  ($63  per  day  for  two tank) to go on the advanced fast boat 
(EDP)  and  it was worth it. At night we headed to town for a lobster 
or Mexican meal, which were tasty and reasonably priced. Diving:

We  had  a  maximum  of  six divers and we were back by 12:00. Due to 
winds  (or  so  we were told), we were limited from visiting the most 
southern  reefs.  Our deep dives were: Columbia, Palancar(Gardens and 
Bricks)  and  Puta  Sur  (devil throat and Cathedral). In each of the 
deep  dives we had at least one Turtle. In Columbia we also saw sting 
and   eagle  rays.  Second  dives  we  did  in  reefs  between  inter 
continental  hotel  and  the Barracuda. The shallower dives were O.K. 
(not  great).  Not enough variety and marine life, and the end of the 
dive  (  60  minutes)  was over sand. After lunch we made shore dives 
from  our  hotel,  Le Ceiba and Chacakanub. Le-Ceiba hotel is located 
near  the  pier  where  Carnival  cruise docks, and the beach is very 
crowded.  Chakanub  coral  was  damaged  from divers, however a great 
cave  with  Tarpons  and  silver sides, and A coral head with 6 large 
lobster  made  it  a worth while dive. At the Coral Princess saw lots 
of little stuff and an Octopus during a night dive. 


My  wife and I just returned from spending 2 weeks (February 27-March 
13,2001)  at  the  Iberostar  Bavaro  Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican 
Republic.  This  was  our second trip to the Dominican Republic. Last 
year  we  stayed  for  2 weeks at the Bavaro Grand while it was being 
sold  by  Allegro  to  the  Mac  Hotels.  We  are  seasoned Caribbean 
travelers,  so  when reading this review, please keep in mind that we 
have  been to Jamaica 6 times, Antigua, Mexico so many times, we have 
lost  count, St. Martin, Aruba, Bahamas, Venezuela, Brazil, Columbia, 

We  booked  with  Canada  3000  Holidays  out of Winnipeg (on a Royal 
Airlines  flight)  and everything was great. Flights left on time and 
service  was as good as the regular scheduled airlines. We booked the 
Royal  Class  seats  ($100  each round trip), which are good, because 
you  don’t  have  to wait in line for check-ins and the seats are the 
same  but  with  more leg room and it seems that they only book 2 out 
of  the  3  seats so we had lots of space. There was an open bar with 
champagne  and  any other liquor that you asked for and one attendant 
who  would  take orders at anytime. The food was better than coach as 
we had a choice of entrees and wine. 

The  only  thing  that seemed to bother most people on our flight was 
that  we  flew  into  La  Romana  Airport  instead  of the Punta Cana 

The  Canada  3000  Holidays  brochure  specifically  stated  that the 
flight  was  to  La  Romana and the distance to Punta Cana was 120KM. 
The  bus  ride  was approximately 2 hours including, a 30 minute stop 
for  beers.  It seemed that most people were unaware of this long bus 
ride.  Having  flown  into the Punta Cana Airport last year, and with 
all  the  confusion  at this airport, this was a minor inconvenience, 
as  our  flight  was one of only 2 flights that were arriving on that 
day. We were in and out of the airport within an hour.

To  sum  up  the  vacation  for  all  you  readers who want the quick 
summary,  the  resort was, in our opinions, one of the best, not only 
in  Punta  Cana  ,  we  have  stayed at anywhere! This is not a party 
place  (we  weren’t  looking  for  that),  so  if  you want excellent 
service,  great junior suite, excellent food, and the best beach that 
we have ever stayed at, go and book this resort!

Staff and Service: 

We  found  the  staff at the hotel to be the most friendly and polite 
that  we have ever experienced. They seemed very shy but by trying to 
speak  a  little  Spanish  to them, they opened up very quickly. This 
was  probably the first resort that we have stayed at (all-inclusive) 
that  had  wait  service on the beach. Also, at all the bars, whether 
during  the  day or in the evenings, there were wait staff everywhere 
to  take  your  orders.  The  service  at the restaurants was prompt, 
sometimes  they  would  confuse  an order but we found that repeating 
the  order  at  least  once  helped  to eliminate the language issue. 
Staff  was  always  very  accommodating when you asked for something. 
Drambuie  was hard to come by and when I finally found a bottle in La 
Dorado   restaurant,  the  wait  staff  was  willing  to  go  to  the 
restaurant  to  get  it for me, even if I happened to be in the Lobby 

The  Director  Residente  (General  Manager):  Daniel Diaz was always 
around  talking  to  everyone  and taking notes. He did mention to us 
that  Iberostar  is opening a new resort in November/2001 in Bayahibe 
called  the  Hotel  Iberostar  Hacienda  Dominicus, He said that this 
property  would  be  the  Iberostar’s  most  up-scale property in the 
Dominican Republic when it opens.

Food and Beverage Selection: 

Food -- 

The  food at the resort was some of the best we have had at any “all-
inclusive”  resort  in  the  Caribbean. The food is definitely better 
than  the  Sandals  properties (Antigua and Negril) and almost on par 
with  Couples  and  the “OLD” Ciboney in Jamaica (before Sandals took 
over the property and Sandalized it!). 

When  you  stay  at  the  Iberostar  Bavaro,  you  can  use  all  the 
restaurants  of  the  Bavaro as well as the Dominicana and Punta Cana 
resorts.   You   needed   reservations  for  all  the  “a  la  carte” 
restaurants  and  we  experienced no problems getting into any of the 
restaurants.  You  had  to go to the “Guest Services” desk (left side 
of  the  registration  area)  any  time during the day from 9AM until 
10PM  and have them make you a reservation. There was never a line up 
for  making  them  and  we  had  reservations  for 2, 4 and 6 persons 
throughout  our  stay.  Their  system is fully automated and when you 
check  in,  they give you a note stating that they will guarantee you 
at  least  3  reservations  for  a  7 night stay and 5 for a fourteen 
night  stay.  There  was  some  confusion as most people read this as 
limiting  them  to  a  number  of reservations. The hand out was very 
clear  in  that  if  there  was  availability,  you  could make other 
reservations.  Please  be  aware that there were no non-smoking areas 
in  any  of  the  a-la-carte restaurants and only a small area in the 
buffet Los Haitises. 

The following is the summaries for all the restaurants:

La Dorado (Bavaro)

This  restaurant  was their seafood one. The only “meat” in the place 
was  a  veal  picatta  appetizer  on  the appetizer bar. There was an 
appetizer   bar,  consisting  of  a  number  of  seafood  delicacies, 
including  smoked  salmon with caviar, shrimp, calamari, salads, etc. 
The   entrees   that   we  tried  and  would  highly  recommend  are: 
Mediterranean  paella  (with  lobster, shrimp, calamari), salmon on a 
phyllo  crust, sea bass, tuna with a red pepper sauce, snapper, and a 
seafood  stew  with lobster, shrimp, etc. The desert bar consisted of 
rice  pudding,  a  very decadent chocolate something, cheesecake in a 
biscuit  basket.  We  ate  here  three  times  and  found  every meal 
excellent. This was one of our favorite restaurants.

La Cana (Bavaro)

This  was  the  Brazilian restaurant that had changed to a steakhouse 
in  the  last  month. It is down by the pool and during the day it is 
Los  Bohios for lunch. Everyone’s consensus that ate here agreed that 
this  was  the  least  enjoyable  of  all  the  restaurants. The menu 
consisted  of  steak,  ribs,  chicken and salmon. My wife ordered the 
ribs  and had to send them back as they were covered in a thick layer 
of  fat.  The side plates of baked potato and corn on the cob arrived 
cold.  The  barbecue  chicken  was okay. Deserts were good – key lime 
pie,  chocolate  brownie,  which  was  very  good  , and some kind of 
“apple  betty”.  We  only ate here once. We tried to order a combo of 
chicken  and  ribs  (which  wasn’t on the menu) and could not get it. 
There  is  the  same  restaurant in the Punta Cana resort that we did 
not try.

Hashiru (Bavaro)

This is the Japanese restaurant. 

For  starters  each couple is given a plate of sushi and some tempura 
vegetables.  Both  were  excellent.  Main dishes that we particularly 
liked  were  the  teppanyaki  dishes  of  chicken and shrimp, and the 
teriyaki  salmon  (absolutely  the  best salmon that I had during the 
stay).  Desert  was  a  choice  of  tempura  banana with ice cream, a 
coffee  liquor gelatin served like a Spanish coffee with ice cream on 
top.  This  was  very  good  if  you  can get past the idea of coffee 
flavored Jell-O. We ate here twice. 

Los Haitises (Buffet at Bavaro)
This  restaurant was huge, with many food stations throughout serving 
different fare.

Breakfast  was  very  good  with  lots  of  choices  for fresh fruit, 
cereal,  made  to  order  eggs,  pancakes,  sweetbreads and home made 
donuts.  Fresh  fruit shakes were offered at one of the stations, but 
there was no fresh orange juice.

Dinner  offered  lots  of  variety and there was always something for 
everyone’s  taste.  We ate here 4 times. The only negative was at the 
carving  station – whatever they were carving, whether it was beef or 
lamb  was  extremely  overdone.  However, if you wanted rare beef, it 
could  be  found  at  another station, that was so tender it could be 
cut  with  a  fork.  There was always pasta, grilled chicken breasts, 
grilled salmon, shrimp, salad bar, Mexican appetizer bar. 

The  desserts  were  very  good  with  lots  of  choices – ice cream, 
chocolates,  cream puffs, mocha mouse, walnut tarts, etc. The buffets 
at  the  Punta  Cana and Dominicana offered similar, but not quite as 
extensive  selections  for  dinner, but their deserts were more North 
American in style – coconut cream pie, tortes, etc.

Los Bohios

This  is  the  only  restaurant open for lunch and is by the pool and 
beach.  Dress is very casual with bare feet allowed and minimal cover 
up  required.  This is where we overdosed on seafood as the first few 
days  we  were  here  they  were  cooking  up seafood paella, seafood 
bouillabaisse  and  mounds of shrimp. Combine this with eating at the 
seafood  restaurant  for  dinner  and  you  quickly  become  tired of 
shellfish  (at  least  we  did).  There was always rotisserie chicken 
(fantastic),  burgers,  hotdogs,  pasta,  pizza, salad bar. Desert at 
lunch  was minimal consisting of ice cream, fruit and one kind of pie 
that was the same everyday.

Friday  on the beach at lunch, head over to the Dominicana where they 
cook  up  two  huge  vats  of  seafood  paella, consisting of lobster 
tails,  prawns  and  calamari.  They  don’t  start cooking this until 
about  12:30  and  start  dishing  it out at 2:00. This was great the 
first week, but we were fished out by the second week and passed. 

La  Mirimba  (Dominicana)  :  This  is  the Italian restaurant in the 
Dominicana.  We  ate  here  once  and  enjoyed our meals. My wife had 
lasagna  and I had veal marsala. There were mixed reviews on the veal 
marsala  as  most  were expecting the veal to be like scaloppini, but 
this  veal  was thicker and more like roast veal. The flavor was good 
and  very  tender. I had a side order of pasta with puntenesca sauce, 
which  is  a  red spicy sauce, which was very good. There was also an 
anti  pasta  bar  which was very good. For desert we had an excellent 
tiramisu.  The  wine  in  this  restaurant  was  the worst of all the 

La Sibilia (Dominicana)/La Ballena (Bavaro): 

We  ate  at  La  Sibilia  in the Dominicana once. This is the gourmet 
restaurant  with  one  fixed menu daily. The menu here is the same as 
in  La  Ballena  in  the  Bavaro,  the  only  difference is that they 
alternate  weeks  (they  work  on  two  weeks worth of menus). We had 
filet  mignon on the day we went. My wife’s was overdone and not that 
tender,  mine  was  very  good.  They didn’t ask us how we wanted our 
steaks,  so  we  didn’t know what to expect. Appetizer consisted of a 
ham  mouse  with  puff  pastry,  and  a  pineapple and lobster salad. 
Desert  was  a  baked  apple.  The meal was okay, but the downside of 
this  meal  was  the  room.  It  was  freezing!  They  had  the  air-
conditioning  turned  up  too  much  and  we  couldn’t wait to finish 
dinner  and  get  out. Saturday night at La Ballena is lobster night. 
We  didn’t go, but heard it was good. The lack of a choice of entrees 
prevented us from coming here more than once.

Maria Bonita (Dominicana): 

This  is  the  Mexican  restaurant  in  the  Dominicana  and it was a 
pleasant  surprise.  We  ate  here  twice. The appetizer bar was good 
enough  to  make  a  complete  meal  of  –  coconut  shrimp,  chicken 
chimichangas,  cheese  quesedillas,  nachos  with different dips, two 
choices  of  soup.  All  of  it  was  fantastic. For entrees we tried 
tequila  shrimp  (excellent), fish in Vera Cruz sauce (very spicy and 
very  good),  filet of beef (very good). My wife had a beef, pork and 
pineapple  taco,  which  was  extremely  interesting  and  tasty.  It 
consisted  of finely chopped meat and pineapple, served open faced on 
a  corn  tortilla.  There  was  a dessert buffet consisting of crepes 
with caramel sauce.


:  The  beverage  selection  at the Bavaro was definitely better than 
most  all-inclusive resorts. From what I have read, in most Dominican 
resorts,  you are limited to National brands only and have to pay for 
any  real  imported brands. This was not the case at the Bavaro. They 
had  3  different  kinds  of  Scotch  (J&B,  Ballentines and JW Red), 
Canadian  Club,  Jim  Beam,  Tanquay,  Beefeater  and  Gordons  Gins, 
Smirnoff  vodka,  Dubonnet,  etc and most liqueurs including Baileys. 
The  beer  was  Presidente  on  draft in the bars and in cans in your 
room.  They  had  Heineken  available in bottles in the main bar that 
was  good.  You  could  also order sparkling wine by the glass at the 
bars  (Cava  brand  of  champagne  from Spain). My only complaint was 
that  they  ran  out  of Drambuie after the first week and it was not 
replaced!  There  was  also  no Grand Marnier or cognac. Last year at 
the  Bavaro  Grand, both Drambuie and Grand Marnier were available as 
well as real cognac and premium JW Black Scotch.

The  other issue that was a little disappointing was the selection of 
“House”  wines.  The  best  wines  that  were  available  were in the 
Sibilia/Ballena, La Dorado, Maria Bonita and Hashiru restaurants. 
All  the  wines  were from Spain and most were not that good. I would 
not  buy  any  of  these wines at home even if I could find them in a 
liquor  store.  I  tried  to get the wine( in a bottle) from the a la 
carte  restaurants  in  the  buffet  restaurant  and was told that it 
couldn’t  be done, with no explanation why. Previously, you could get 
a  choice  of  house wines in any of the restaurants but that feature 
has  disappeared.  The  majority  of vacationers are not regular wine 
drinkers,  so  the resorts seem to think they have to serve tasteless 
wines  that  have  no body and therefore no taste so as not to offend 
the  patrons.  The  Iberostar  Bavaro  wines were as good as Sandals, 
Grand  Lido  Braco  or any of the other all-inclusives we have stayed 
at but that still isn’t saying too much! 


All the rooms at the Bavaro are “Junior Suites”. 

We  stayed  in unit 2513, which was a second story unit very close to 
the  beach  and pool. The room was very clean, king-sized bed, with a 
stocked  fridge  and  separate  sitting  area  and a large all marble 
bathroom.  The only minor complaint that we had was that our maid for 
the  first  10  days would do our room LAST! This meant that our room 
was  being made up sometimes as late as 5PM or on the 10th day of her 
mission,  she  was still not in the room at 5PM. I went and found her 
supervisor  and had a brief talk with her and for the next 4 days, we 
had  a  new  maid  and  our  room  was the first that was made up and 
everything  was  very good after that. We were only drinking the Diet 
Cokes  out  of the fridge, so I let the maid know this and she always 
left  extras.  All  the  drinks in the fridge were in plastic bottles 
and  the  beer, Presidente, was in cans. The only problem that we had 
was  that  one  night  I  broke  a  glass  in the bathroom and had to 
scramble  to  pick up the pieces. We got a plastic glass from the bar 
for  the  bathroom  after that but every day, the maid would take the 
plastic glass with her. Washcloths are supplied daily.


The  beach and water in front of the resort had to be the best in the 
Caribbean.  The  sand was “white”, and raked very often. There was no 
“seaweed”  and  you could go snorkeling right in front of the resort. 
We  walked  the  beach  in  both directions for at least 2 miles both 
ways  and  the  beach in front of the Bavaro was the widest and least 
crowded.  Lots  of  palapas and chairs and no problem with saving the 
chairs.  We  had  one  minor problem one afternoon with a family from 
France  who  had  taken  our palapas when we went for a walk. I was a 
little  angry  at  first  but,  I actually spoke with them and we sat 
beside them for the rest of the day.


Tours Taken

:  We  took  the all day Monster Truck ride, which included a tour of 
the  backcountry  of  the DR. We visited a small fruit plantation, an 
actual  “Voodoo”  witch Doctor and had lunch beside a river. The cost 
of  the  tour  was  $85US  and  was  well worth it. All the tours are 
around $75 or $85 US.


This  was  our second time to the Dominican Republic and we were very 
pleased  with  our  vacation.  Very  good  bang  for the buck at this 
resort.  We  have paid twice as much to go to Sandals and other “all-
inclusive”  resorts  and  for  us,  why  pay  the  extra thousands of 
dollars!  When  we go on vacation we always rate it on the quality of 
the  food/service,  rooms  and  beach  and this resort was great from 
that  perspective.  This probably was the first resort in a long time 
that  we  both  agree  that  we  would  return  in  a  second without 

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