One of the greatest parts of working in marketing for an international footwear company has been my ability to travel. I have been on a plane more this past year than I had previously in my entire life. While Vegas, North Carolina and Mexico were incredible, my most recent trip to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic has become one of the most memorable experiences. I spent my week answering emails in paradise as I like to say. While I was there for work mainly, (14-16 hour days in the beginning!) we did get a little play time towards the end of the week. I tried to soak in every experience I possibly could and I wanted to share some highlights with all of you!
For someone who has never been to a resort... or even anywhere tropical for that matter... this was quite an experience for me. We stayed at the Level at Meliá Caribe Tropical Resort, which was incredible because of two very important words.... ADULTS ONLY. I love kids don't get me wrong, but when I was lounging by the pool with a Coco Loco in my hand, it was quite peaceful.
The Meliá Caribe Tropical was all inclusive.... food, drinks & room service (which was used quite frequently to order midnight pizza). The Level featured a massive pool with a swim up bar. I will comment to enter the resort with patience, as the employees tend to run on island time. Being a Californian, I'm used to getting things yesterday however they have a slightly less rushed lifestyle which tends to come with island life.
Regardless, the resort was gorgeous and I even had a jetted tub in the middle of my room... hello boogie Kathleen!
One of the most memorable experiences from my trip was the day we took a Catamaran tour around the Caribbean coastline. The tour began at a coral reef, where the boat dropped us off to start our snorkeling adventure. Being someone who is terrified of open water, it's safe to say I was shaking like a leaf.... but how often do you get the opportunity to do something like this? So i put my big girl panties on and with the help of a few coworkers... I hopped into the ocean only to discover the most incredible assortment of tropical creatures.
Next we stopped at a sandbar for the rest of the afternoon. With a floating bar, music blasting and a drink in my hand.... we had a massive dance party in the middle of the ocean. Needless to say, it was pretty epic.... from what I remember!
The next day, a group of us signed up for Buggie tours which I was totally excited for! We paired up and took turns driving through the tropical countryside where we were able to see a more authentic portion of the DR. We drove through fields of green and past the colorful homes of the locals who waved us by. The ATV's had a kick to them which I took full advantage of by revving us through every single puddle I could find... until I got yelled at by the tour guide hahaha.
The tours first stopped at a Caribbean coffee shop where we tasted all the local goods. There was even a man on hand rolling cigars which I made sure to stay farrrrr away from ( I had quite a rough experience with one my last time in LV). Outside of the shop was a handful of local dancers who performed their traditional Dominican dance for us. At one point they turned to pull people onto the stage and you'll never guess who they picked... My coworker joked that they had pretty much scanned the room and looked for the most white person they could find, and I think it's a fair assumption to say that was me.
Next, they led us to an underground swimming hole tucked deep in a cave. Although the water was freezing, the gorgeous waterfall made this so well worth it. Waiting outside of the cave was a man with a FREAKING MONKEY ON HIS SHOULDER! He walked up and put it on me and I think at that point I seriously debated giving up my life and career to move to the DR and train monkeys.
Lastly, the tour stopped at a private beach for the rest of the afternoon. We relaxed in the warm Caribbean water with the sun shining right over us. It was the perfect way to end the day!
The last night of the trip was spent at one of the weirdest places I have ever been in my life, Coco Bongo. This nightclub/cirque du soleil show was basically the Dominican's interpretation of American culture. We walked in and were immediately greeted with 3 different shots before even getting into the main building. When we finally arrived, we entered this giant colosseum night club with levels of dance floors and two main stages. Basically every 10 minutes was a new performance and in between each show, the place turned into a crazy dance party. The shows were absolutely insane... they performed renditions of The Beatles, Queen, Madonna and so much more with crazy impersonators and even one mildly offensive little person. After a few drinks, I befriended some people from Paris which resulted with me being pulled up onto the main stage to dance. We left at 3am with terribly sore feet but it was so worth the experience and the endless free drinks!
I left the DR equally exhausted and amazed by the experience. I'm forever grateful to work for a company that sent me to work in paradise for a week. Although where we stayed was definitely Americanized, being submerged within a different culture was so incredible. I laughed to my boss when I got back home because this trip really ignited my travel bug. Will I ever go back? Who knows! There are soooo many places left for me to travel. Would I recommend this trip? Absolutely!