We recently spent a week in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic at Ocean Blue & Sands Resort with our three little ones; 5 and under. And it was amazing.
Prior to our vacation, we worked with Mary Trofino of Trofino Tri-Star Travel to get our trip organized. She was absolutely amazing, patient, and dedicated to perfection. She was such a blessing in our planning process. (thank you, Mary!)
We gave her a budget of about $1000 per adult for a week long all-inclusive vacation to Punta Cana, and Mary found a way. She booked us through Apple Vacations to Ocean Blue & Sands all-inclusive resort and we flew out of BWI. Mary even booked our stay&fly hotel room at the Wingate by Wyndham the night before we left. Have I mentioned that Mary is amazing?
|counting down our vacation on their color charts|
We have been to all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana in the past for vacation, so we are somewhat seasoned veterans when it comes to Dominican vacations (see here in 2012, and here in 2010). It was Greyson's third time in the DR! We are also very very blessed to travel with family; BOTH sets of grandparents join us (along with my aunt & uncle, a pair of good friends from PA) all on this year's trip! Extra eyes, extra hands, extra love. Can't beat that.
|these beautiful, youthful people are my children's grandparents. #luckiestkidsever|
We had an uneventful travel day (always a good thing) and were graced by the travel gods to have sleepy kids on the way there. Our day consisted of a 5am trip to the airport via the hotel shuttle, a 7am flight from BWI to Punta Cana, DR (about 4 hour flight), and then a 30 minute bus ride from the airport to the resort. Minutes after we arrived, we were overjoyed to see that my best friend, Karpy, and her family had also just arrived from North Carolina (which our nearly simultaneous arrivals was all due to Mary's awesome planning and coordinating!) Karpy, her husband Matt, and their fourteen month old sweetheart Andrew took the leap to international vacationing with a little one for the first time!
And then, the kids demanded pool time, so that's where we spent the whole first afternoon before even checking into our room and getting settled!
The week was beautiful in all the ways beautiful vacation could mean; the weather was great, the resort staff, food, drinks, fun was all beautiful, the company (our kids, the grandparents, our best friends, our whole group, each other) was all fun, funny, and kind.
Violet and Andrew had their first taste of beach vacationing and they loved the sand, pool, and snoozing in the arms of loved ones whenever they felt like it! They each had a crib to sleep in at night, a stroller for wandering the resort, all the crackers, yogurt, and fruit loops their hearts desired. Best of all; they had the attention and smiles of everyone around them to entertain them all week.
And who can complain when you get to spend Mother's Day on vacation?! All the mommas got to enjoy some r&r as we had the fellas fetch us spiked drinks all afternoon and we had delicious dinner via the Steakhouse menu that night.
|me and my momma|
|mommas and babies|
We snuck in a grown up date night during the week. The grandparents took our kids for the evening, while Brandon and I headed up to the 'grown ups only restaurant' and enjoyed dinner with no little hands stealing food from our plate or any little voices interrupting our conversation. Then we headed back to enjoy drinks on the balcony of Karpy & Matt's room while we kept an eye on a snoozing Andrew and they enjoyed a grown up date dinner out. It was a great evening to ourselves and amazing to feel like we were on an international vacation just the two of us...but only for the evening because we miss the kids too much otherwise. HAH. #parentprobs
We had two down days because our bigger two each wore themselves down to the point that they made themselves sick. With four grandparents, two parents, and friends all at their disposable for playing; the kids went non-stop since the moment we arrived. So it wasn't that big of a surprise when Grey started throwing up on Monday night with his bright red cheeks. He spent all day Tuesday sleeping in our room (Brandon stayed with him) and then Gemma did the same thing on Tuesday night and she and I hung out in the room laying low all day Wednesday. Their bounce back time was about 36 hours and then it was back to normal We are certain that it was due to all the playing and sun (no one else in our group got sick) - we always say, "it's not really a party until someone throws up!" So check it off, dude; definitely a good time was had.
As for the resort review: we loved the Ocean Blue & Sands and would definitely recommend it, especially to families. All of the dining restaurants are located on one strip and most don't need an early reservation. We had the best fun at the Mexican themed Margarita's. The staff was accommodating with all of our kid-related needs (high chairs, milk, straws, etc) and we made friends with many of the servers and entertainment crew who were so kind and loving to us and our babies.
|at breakfast with our tribe|
|our dear friend Carlos!|
We had a magical time. And honestly, we can't put a price on the memories for our family on a trip like this. It's the experience that we value, the introduction of a new place to our kids, the opportunity to introduce them to the Spanish language and hear their own Mum speak it. To give them a whole week of undivided attention from us and their grandparents. The chance to vacation with our very best friends for a whole week and make memories with Andrew. It was all wonderful. So so wonderful and blessed.
So my suggestion for planning big family vacations (and well actually for all of life) is always the same: do the thing that seems too ambitious. Jump first and then figure it out. It is not generally easy but it is almost always worth it.
Trofino Tri-Star Travel
One Step Ahead - Most of the kids awesome beach attire (swim shirts, hats, headbands, frogglez, tents, and Violet's raft) all come from One Step Ahead. This is not statement is in no way sponsored: I love them and they are my go-to shopping spot for all summer safety gear.
Stearns Puddle Jumpers - not sponsored statement: these are the best floaties we've ever purchased. They are going on their second year of (heavy) use and holding up like new. Kids feel totally confident in them as do the parents. Certified like a life jacket.