Author: John P. Dennis
November, 2016 Issue
It was the day of our scheduled flight, and we were filled with anxiety as hurricane Matthew was heading toward our selected vacation destination of Dominican Republic and neighboring Haiti. Our flight was scheduled for 11 p.m., with an 11 a.m. arrival in Punta Cana at the all-inclusive resort destination of Alsol Luxury. We had to make the decision soon whether to continue our trip or cancel our plans. It looked as though the storm would only have a residual effect on the Dominican Republic, so we decided to go for it! The flight was long and tough, with a 4-hour layover in Atlanta, and the usual stress of landing in a foreign country. We made our way through customs quite easily; after paying just $10 per person tariff and completing the usual customs forms, we followed the crowd out to where the many resort buses, taxis and private shuttles were all scurrying about. We asked one of the many guides how to find our correct shuttle. He explained the guides’ shirts were color-coded and flagged down gentlemen wearing yellow, who quickly made his way over and grabbed our bags. After a confirmation of our paperwork, off we went in the air-conditioned van. Having visited Costa Rica in the past, our expectations of the country’s infrastructure were low, but we were pleasantly surprised with the modern and manicured roadways.
After passing through resort security, we travelled up a short, Tuscan-style, palm tree-lined street, arriving at the front lobby within 15 minutes of departing the airport! That short ride was a pleasant surprise after our long flight.Within minutes, our long flight, concerns of hurricane Matthew and stress of entering a foreign country all melted away, as staff greeted us with a sincere “welcome home” and a cocktail.We were quickly checked in and taken to our room by Martin, the bellhop captain. Along the way, he gave us a tour of the property and an overview of the restaurants, bars and grills located on the property. Alsol Luxury tagline is “Luxury is space", and our room did not disappoint. We booked a 2-room suite, which was over 2,000-square-feet with all the amenities. The balcony extended beyond the dining area to a wooden deck that stretched out over the water of a private pool. The pool flowed along the row of suites, the beautiful view of the marina appeared just beyond the pool. We watched as the tail end of any remnants of Matthew disappeared into the distance (we had incredible weather throughout our stay).
|All-inclusive resorts can sometimes seem monotonous when it comes to the food selection and preparation, but Alsol works hard to vary the dining experiences. We enjoyed an Italian dinner at the ----- restaurant and had a chef entertain us at a Japanese hibachi grill; an ocean side lunch featured fried, locally caught fish. Other culinary highlights included a Dominican dinner buffet poolside, burgers at the pool grill and seafood night at the ---- restaurant. The only meal we felt lacked a sense of change was breakfast—then again, we’re not sure how you would mix it up.
The service was outstanding—the staff is always polite and willing to help and, unlike other all-inclusive resorts we have been to, we never felt they were only interested in tips. Occasionally, the service was a little slow or a server seemed a little absentminded, but this only reminded us we were “on island time.” And there was always someone willing to step in if necessary (Cairo, in particular, was excellent).
The entertainment options were designed for many levels of engagement, from full participation to simply sitting back and enjoying the shows. Besides the obvious—soaking in the sun by the pool, the beaches or the swim-up bar—daytime activities include table tennis, darts, yoga, bicycle tours and Spanish lessons. The entertainment staff (Marlin, Barbie, Amy, Sweet and Black Pid) made participation look like so much fun, it was hard to resist. In the evenings, there were live shows; the acrobatic show stood out as above par for an all-inclusive resort. There are also plenty of paid excursions available, including golf, zip lining, cave tours, fishing, scuba and snorkeling (although we were disappointed in the snorkeling because the coral was very limited and the coral reefs we did find were badly damaged).
In all, if you're inclined to visit the Caribbean, we would recommend a stay with Alsol: The sunsets are incredible, the property is beautiful and the staff makes you feel like family—royal family!
Also we were delighted by the service from our travel agent. If your thinking that travel agents dissapeared along with blockbuster–think again! They still exist in the shadows of the internet but they can make your life much easier. Glenn Wilson, from Nexion travel did a great job for us!
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