Written by Stanley Greenberg Friday, 15 April 2011 00:00
Two winter weary Jericho couples, the Greenes and the Greenbergs, arrive at JFK airport for a trip to the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana on the eastern end of the island of Hispaniola is the final destination. Paradisus Palma Real Resort is the name of the hotel. The plan is called A.I.P. or all-inclusive plan.
Everything was paid for up front. Not once did we reach into our pockets to pay for a meal. We ate, thanked the waiters and left. No figuring out the tip or the bill. It was a strange sensation for Long Islanders. At a bar the bartender plunked down an entire bottle of Absolut vodka and told us to add as much to the drink as we desired. It reminded me of the bar scenes in western movies when the hero is presented with a whiskey bottle and a shot glass.
Everywhere you turned there was a bar. Pina Coladas and rum were the drinks of choice. Latin music filled the air. The Casino was small but efficient with blackjack, roulette and slot machines.
The attendants and servers throughout the hotel were friendly and helpful, continually smiling and saying, “Hola” and “Buenos Dias.” The culture is a mix of Spanish, French, Haitian and African influences with a rich history, joyful spirits and a friendly manner.
A variety of restaurants was available – Italian, Asian and a restaurant called Passion had elegant décor and a pleasing ambience. Smiling and helpful waiters made the dining at meals very pleasant.
We toured a cigar factory and smoked a sample product. After the Cuban revolution, many well-known manufacturers arrived and produced premium cigars. The Dominican Republic is the world’s largest exporter of handmade cigars. Smoking and ashtrays were seen throughout the hotel.
Christopher Columbus discovered the island in 1492. The Spanish influence is everywhere. The 10 million inhabitants love baseball and the Merengue is the national dance.
Arriving home at JFK we were chilled to the bone.
Traveling with dear friends is wonderful. The hotel and A.I.P. made it a great vacation.