This past January, Travel Consultant Christine Wolff had the chance to visit Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. This was not only a great opportunity for her to experience international travel and what that looks like these days, but also it was an amazing chance for her to stay at 2 different resorts and tour 7 others. Keep reading to learn more about her experience traveling internationally during COVID and to hear about some amazing resorts in Punta Cana!
Traveling During COVID
First, I will address the questions people have about traveling internationally and traveling to the Dominican Republic these days:
Q: What is required for entry into the Dominican Republic? Is a negative COVID test result required?
A: The Dominican Republic and Mexico are two of the only Caribbean islands that are NOT requiring a negative COVID test to enter their country. Of course getting tested before traveling is always recommended, but it is not required for entry.
What IS required to enter AND exit the Dominican Republic is an embarkation and disembarkation form. You must fill this out online both before your entry into their country and before exiting their country. Once you have completed this form online, you are given a QR code that is then scanned upon your arrival into the Dominican Republic airport and then you must fill out the form AGAIN 1-2 days before your flight home and you are given another QR code. This departure QR code is then scanned before you depart the Dominican Republic at the airport prior to your flight home. This is also called the “DR E-Ticket”.
Q: What does staying at an all-inclusive resort look like now?
A: I would say the resorts are handling this all VERY well. COVID protocols are in place everywhere. Some of these protocols include:
Q: How is the Dominican Republic handling COVID?
A: Upon your arrival at the airport, you are going to walk through a contactless body temperature scanner and then your passport and DR E-Ticket are needed at Immigration. Face masks are required throughout the airport and outside of the airport.
Once your transfer arrives at the airport, your temperature is taken again before you get inside of the transfer. Your face mask will be required the entire transfer to your hotel.
The Dominican Republic has taken this virus very seriously. They have EXTREMELY strict curfews and mask mandates. Masks are required to be worn EVERYWHERE, even when driving your own car (alone or not), when walking your dog, walking home from work, etc. This has helped their COVID case numbers remain very low in their country.
Q: The CDC is now requiring ALL air passengers entering the United States to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 3 calendar days before boarding their flight home. 1) Are there any exemptions to this rule, like having received the COVID vaccine? 2) What does this testing requirement look like and do I have to pay for the test? How is this being done? 3) What happens if someone tests positive?
A: 1) The ONLY exemption to this CDC mandate is if you have recently recovered from COVID no more than 3 months prior to your travels. Having received the vaccine is NOT an exemption to this rule. If you had COVID and have recovered within 3 months prior to your travels, you can be exempted from this rule ONLY if you can obtain a signed doctor’s release note from your local doctor clearing you for travel (this must have the doctor’s signature on your doctor’s letterhead and the note MUST say that you are cleared for travel). Please make sure you check the CDC’s website for more details and FAQ.
2) If you do not apply to the above, then you must take a COVID test 72 hours before your departure flight time. Many resorts are offering free on-site COVID testing with your stay. Your COVID testing appointment can be made at the front desk of your property upon check in. BE SURE TO COUNT YOUR FLIGHT DEPARTURE DAY AS PART OF YOUR 72 HOURS FOR TESTING. Example: if your departure flight home is on a Wednesday, then your test must be taken on that Monday prior.
The process was extremely easy at the resort. Most resorts have a dedicated testing area, ours was in a theatre but some have them in conference rooms. We waited in the designated chairs and when it was my turn, I went up to a desk to fill out a few forms and then I was tested by a local nurse. It was a non-invasive nasal swab and within minutes we were finished and on our way. Our results were waiting for us at the hotel concierge within 24 hours and at that time, we were given our printed test results that are required to be presented upon check in at the airport. See the photos/video below for what my process looked like:
Upon your arrival at the Punta Cana airport before your departure flight home, you will be required to present your passport, your negative COVID test result from the resort (that is also signed by the testing doctor), a CDC passenger disclosure form, and your return DR E-ticket.
3) Most resorts are also offering free 14-day quarantine on property should you test positive. So, if by slim chance you DO test positive after taking your test, then you will receive a phone call from the testing doctor and the resort will make your arrangements accordingly. Most hotels have a designated area of the property for COVID positive guests. You will be transferred to a new room where the resort will walk you through all of your protocols at that time. Your symptoms (if you have any at all) will depend on when you get tested again. It is usually within 24-hours.
Q: Is it safe to travel internationally right now?
A: I personally felt very safe while traveling internationally, but traveling right now must be completely up to YOU as the traveler and your comfort level. If you feel uneasy about going out of the country, I would not recommend taking a trip outside out the country. I along with any of other our Travel Consultants are more than happy to walk you through all of these procedures and protocols, but you as the traveler have to be comfortable doing so. You also must be ready to abide by all COVID protocols set in place. If you are not willing to travel with all the necessary documents required by the airport/country, then I would not recommend traveling right now. If you are not willing to wear your mask, then I would not recommend traveling right now. If you are not willing to socially distant yourself from others, then I would not recommend traveling right now. If you are not willing to take a COVID test before entering back into the United States, then I would not recommend traveling right now. Travel right now must be safe for EVERYONE, not just you as the individual. You have to be willing to follow the rules and protocols set in place by each resort and country.
Punta Cana Resort Visits
I had the opportunity to stay at 2 different all-inclusive resorts within Punta Cana along with touring those two resorts and 7 other all-inclusive resorts! Our first few nights were spent at the beautiful Dreams Macao Beach Punta Cana resort and our last few nights were spent at the Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana resort. Along with touring those two properties, we had the chance to visit and tour 7 others within the Punta Cana area. Below I highlight each of these resorts with photos, a short summary, and my personal favorite part of each property.
Dreams Macao Beach
Dreams Macao Beach is located on the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic nestled in the pristine sand and bright blue waters of Playa Macao – one of the BEST beaches in the Dominican. This family-friendly property is brand new at less than one year old and has 500 luxurious suites, 4 relaxing pools, 10 dining options, and 7 bars. Additional services include Preferred Club stays, tours and excursions, wedding services, spa and wedding packages, kids clubs, water parks, and babysitting.
Christine’s Personal Favorite: My personal favorite part about Dreams Macao Beach was definitely the beach! The beach at this resort is unlike any other beach at any of the other Punta Cana resorts. The bright blue colors in the water, the rocks in the distance, the feeling and the color of the sand all reminded me of Hawaii, California, or Cabo beaches. I absolutely loved it!
Click through the below slideshow for more pictures of Dreams Macao Beach!
Secrets Royal Beach
Secrets Royal Beach was recently renovated and is located on over 700 yards of palm tree filled, white sand beach offering adults a serene escape to paradise. This luxuriously modern, all-inclusive resort is adults-only and offers a wide variety of amenities, services, and contemporary accommodations. Things like daily refreshed mini-bar, pool and beach service, gourmet dining at 7 different restaurants, top-shelf liquor served at any of the 11 bars, and 24-hour room service is all included with your stay! There is also a Preferred Club section of the resort that is included in a Preferred Club room stay.
Christine’s Personal Favorite: My personal favorite of Secrets Royal Beach was the modern, luxurious Preferred Club pool and bar area. The poolside drink service offered here was next to none, the Preferred Club lounge was located right next to the pool area and offered drinks and snacks and the pool was extremely luxurious. See the images below:
Click through the below slideshow for more pictures of Secrets Royal Beach!
Dreams Royal Beach
Dreams Royal Beach is situated on a white sand beach right next door to Secrets Royal Beach. While Secrets Royal Beach offers a luxurious getaway for adults only, Dreams offers a similar luxurious stay for couples and couples with children. This family-friendly resort offers 373 luxurious rooms and suites, 3 relaxing pools, 7 dining options, 10 bars and a Preferred Club room option. Additional services include a spa, an array of land and water activities, a kids-club for ages 3-12 and a Teens Club for teens ages 13-17. Tours and excursions are also offered here, along with wedding and spa packages, and babysitting.
Christine’s Personal Favorite: My personal favorite about the Dreams Royal Beach resort was the pool/lounging areas. The pools are crystal clear and blue and the lounging options were very comfortable. See the images below:
Click through the below slideshow for more pictures of Dreams Royal Beach!
Secrets Cap Cana
Secrets Cap Cana was probably my favorite resort out of all 9 of these. This resort is located on the extremely exclusive Juanillo Beach within the gated community of Cap Cana. It is surrounded by horse stables, a marina, a world-class fishery, a championship golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus, and polo fields. This extremely special, adults only resort offers 7 gourmet a la carte restaurants, a buffet, a grill, and a café along with six chic bars and lounges. 24-hour room service is also available.
This resort is known for its amazing service, its amazing beach and its 457 sophisticated rooms and suites. Bungalow-style rooms and swim out suites are within those 457 rooms and suites offered. There is also a Preferred Club room section along with a Preferred Club pool and lounge area of the resort.
Christine’s Personal Favorite: My favorite part of the Secrets Cap Cana resort was the various swim out suites and accommodations. The rooms were decorated just beautifully and the swim out pools and views were absolutely beautiful. I could have sat out there all day!
Click through the below slideshow for more pictures of Secrets Cap Cana Beach!
Now Onyx is located in Uvero Alto which is in the northern part of Punta Cana on a remote, palm-studded beach. This family-friendly resort offers fun for all ages! There are 12 different dining options, 11 bars and lounges, plus over 20 additional options at Breathless Punta Cana located right next door!
There are 5 swimming pools, supervised clubs for kids and teens, a casino, a nightclub and world-class spa, and a water park area. There is also a Preferred Club area of the resort offering two private pools including one for adults only and two Preferred Club lounges.
Christine’s Personal Favorite: My personal favorite of this resort was the new water park area of the property! This area offered fun in the sun for all ages and I was DYING to go down this amazing slide!! I can only imagine the fun that is had at this pool.
Click through the below slideshow for more pictures of Now Onyx!
Breathless Punta Cana
Breathless Punta Cana is an adults only resort right next door to Now Onyx in Uvero Alto (the northern part of Punta Cana). This resort is extremely contemporary and lively. A place where its very easy to make new friends and relax in a beach cabana all day or join the DJ parties by the pool! There are 750 spacious suites offering a private balcony or terrace along with 8 different dining restaurants and 8 bars and lounges.
Christine’s Personal Favorite: My favorite of this resort was the beach here. There were people taking part in a beach yoga class during our tour and I can only imagine just how amazing that is on this beautiful beach!
Click through the below slideshow for more pictures of Breathless Punta Cana!
Dreams Palm Beach
Dreams Palm Beach faces the Caribbean Sea and is located just North of Punta Cana only 20 minutes from the airport! This family-friendly resort offers 8 restaurants including 1 buffet and 7 different bars and lounges. There are 500 luxurious rooms and suites with views of either the Caribbean Sea or of beautiful gardens. Also at Dreams Palm Beach are Preferred Club rooms, a Preferred Club pool and other Preferred Club areas of the resort. There are endless day and night activities and entertainment for people of all ages including a supervised Explorer’s Club and Core Zone Teen’s Club.
Christine’s Personal Favorite: My favorite part of this resort was the massage beach area. There were areas of the beach that was specifically set aside for massages by the resort’s spa and I think it would be absolutely amazing to have a massage done right there on the beach! See the images below:
Click through the below slideshow for more pictures of Dreams Palm Beach!
Riu Palace Punta Cana
Riu Palace Punta Cana is located on the Arena Gorda Beach and is surrounded by nothing but tropical scenery. This family-friendly resort has 676 suites and rooms, 3 swimming pools, a waterpark area for the kiddos with slides, and direct beach access. Also included with your stay here is 24-hour room service and dining/drinking at over 10 different dining and bar venues. There is daily entertainment programs for both young children and teens and numerous amount of entertainment options for adults including pool parties and a discotheque on property that is open every night.
Christine’s Personal Favorite: My favorite part of this resort was the grounds of the place. I absolutely loved the look of the entire resort. You feel as if you are walking around a true royal palace throughout the property!
Click through the below slideshow for more pictures of Riu Palace Punta Cana!
Do you have more questions about what it’s like to travel internationally right now? Want more information about any of these resorts and/or their COVID procedures? Contact Christine Wolff today!
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