T and I did a few long weekend trips this summer (to Montreal and Atlanta) but our big summer vacation came right at the end of August, so there was a lot of anticipation building up in the weeks prior to take-off. Even though I've been back on American soil for less than two weeks, I'm already longing to return to Punta Cana so I couldn't be more excited to share this gorgeous vacation destination with you!
Warning: photo overload ahead (but you kind of already expected that, right? Right.)
Ahhhhhhhhh. Just seeing this long stretch of beach and the blue waves, tall palm trees, and cozy beach beds above is making me want to hop the next flight back to the Dominican Republic! TAKE ME BACK.
|This photo is courtesy of me taking a creepy stalker photo of T from my palapa lounger...but in my defense, how cute is he in his purple shorts?!|
If you're thinking about taking a trip to Punta Cana, here's what you need to know: First of all, relaxation needs to be #1 on your list. If you want lots of activity, you might want to look elsewhere, but if lounging in the tropics with a good book and some beautiful scenery sounds heavenly to you...
...you've come to the right place.
T and I stayed at the Excellence Punta Cana which more than lived up to its name. We didn't deviate too much from our daily schedule, which started with me heading down to the beach to secure a prime beach bed location. We had upgraded to the Excellence Club, which allowed us to access a private part of the beach for the ultimate relaxing experience. T would sleep in and join me later in the morning, when I already had a magazine (and mimosa) or two behind me. Once we were together, it was time for morning happy hour which typically consisted of rounds of double frozen mudslides (for T) and double pina coladas (for me!).
Right before lunch, we would take a long stroll along the beach to some of the more secluded areas, where we set up our own little photo shoots.
We usually snuck in some pool time during the afternoons. Luckily, even though we vacationed during hurricane season, we only had one minor rainstorm where we had to hide out under a pool palapa!
When we weren't lounging around the resort property, we could usually be found taking FULL advantage of the hotel's all-inclusive feature.
I particularly enjoyed the hotel's signature drink, the Coco Loco...because nothing says "vacation" like sipping directly out of a coconut...
...or like drinking some oceanside prosecco prior to 9:00 in the morning (side note: when we first arrived at the hotel at 8:30 a.m., we were immediately greeted with two icy flutes of prosecco. Perfection!)
One of the top reasons that we opted to stay at the Excellence was that they have 9 different sit-down restaurants on the property that offer full menus (in other words, you're not limited to the typical, not-so-tasty all-inclusive buffet option). I was a bad blogger and didn't take many food pics, but I promise that all of the selections were quite tasty and there was a broad range of options for all types of palettes. Also, the venue settings are absolutely gorgeous, and totally romantic!
After wearing bathing suits and casual beach gear all day, it was nice to have an excuse to get a little fancy for dinner.
|Please excuse our tub towel on the floor, haha!|
I loved that the "all-inclusive" feature extended to all aspects of the resort...especially the dessert!
I appreciated that the Excellence was all about adding a little flair to our meals (example: this flaming creme brulee). In my opinion, you can never go wrong with some culinary theatricality while on vacation!
After dinner, it would be time for a nightcap at the martini bar. I'm not going to lie, I've definitely already tried to recreate these chocolate martinis at home (especially now that our home bar is all set up...but that's a topic for a different post!).
The Excellence featured different live performances every night, and we would sometimes catch a few numbers on our way back up to the room. The Michael Jackson tribute was probably the most technically impressive...
...but the Burlesque show definitely made us laugh the most! (But...why was there a windmill as the centerpiece in a burlesque set? We are still asking ourselves that question.)
Of course, there were a few instances where we deviated from our daily vacay routine. We did a soothing couples' hydrotherapy treatment at the hotel spa, and also did something that was old hat for my Southern-raised guy but was brand-new to me...horseback riding!
We went on a seaside horseback tour, and after only a few minutes of initial trepidation, I fully embraced this awesome new experience! It was a really cool way for me to try something new with T, who was a total pro at this thanks to his Alabama roots (my Yankee self was not quite accustomed to being so up close and personal with our equine pals!).
Funny story...when we finished the ride, some of the hotel employees were waiting with small trinkets that had been customized with the photos we took at the beginning of the tour! So now T and I are the proud owners of a bottle of local rum and a CD of Dominican music that both bear our horseback image below, haha.
One of the last things we did (which wound up being one of my favorites) was a short photo shoot with the hotel photographer. It was included in our Excellence Club upgrade which is really the main reason we took advantage of it (because we both felt kind of silly posing for photographs), but I'm SO glad we did it! Unfortunately, we only had about 5 minutes to review all of the shots and select our favorites before our airport ride departed, but I still think we wound up with a few keepers.
If you're considering a relaxing vacation to fully decompress and get away from it all, I can't recommend the Excellence Punta Cana highly enough (and if you have any questions about it, please email me because I love any excuse to relive our trip - seriously!). Also, I just need to take a quick second to give a shout-out to T, who was the real reason that this trip was so special (ugh, sorry for my sappiness). After being single for
approximately forever a minute, it was such a wonderful treat to be able to share this quality time with someone who is so special to me. This summer has been a big adventure with many changes (the biggest one being us moving in together!) so I felt really happy to cap off the season with such a memorable trip. (End of sappiness.)
What's your favorite relaxing vacation destination?