Last Thursday (Nov. 29) concluded a four-day tour of the Dominican Republic's north end, as part of Air Canada Vacations Mega FAM, which had travel agents taking in the news and views of some of the island's hottest all-inclusive resorts in the northern cities of Samana and Puerto Plata.
This action-packed FAM officially ran from Nov. 27 through Nov. 29, during which the energetic agents conducted site inspections at 14 properties in both Samana and Puerto Plata. Agents were divided into three groups; Group A, Group B, and Group C. PAX was part of Group C, led by Martha Dela Torre, area sales manager, ACV, and Heike Michel, supervisor, north coast, Hola Tours & Travel, who provided outstanding destination knowledge throughout the trip.
Our host hotels included the four-star BlueBay Villas Doradas; the five-star Grand Bahia Principe San Juan; and the four-star Grand Bahia Principe Cayacoa.
From full-day tours across the island to pulling off a rescue mission after another group's bus broke down on the side of the road, this mega FAM was one for the books, and also the one that Dana Gain, senior director of sales, Air Canada Vacations, called "the best one yet."
On the last evening, a pirate-themed gala dinner was held on the private beach of the Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado. Upon arriving at the beach, guests were handed pirate accessories, and all of us were treated to Dominican flavours, a few favourites being the BBQ lobster tails, and a spit-roasted pig. A DJ supplied the music, and after two full days of site inspections, agents were ready for a good time!
Here are some of the incredible resorts we saw in Samana:
Property: Viva Wyndham V Samana
Vibe: Romantic, breezy, laid-back, full vacation-mode.
Clientele: Adults-only; couples (honeymooners and romantic getaways).
Design: Minimalist; honey-coloured wood, yellow-and-white striped awnings on the rooms; blue and white decor inspired by the ocean; plush white benches enclosed by towering bamboo cabanas; ceramic tilework; spacious open-concept throughout.
- The main pool is accessible the minute you walk through the lobby;
- Comfortable cabanas on route to the beach;
- A beautiful breeze comes right off the ocean;
- Free WiFi (including rooms);
- 24-hour room service;
- Unlimited a la carte dining (no reservations required);
- Waiter service by the pool;
- Vibe rooms include a personal plunge pool
Property: Grand Bahia Principe Cayacoa
Vibe: Alluring; eco-friendly; authentic Dominican atmosphere; Instagram-ready (the landscapes make for incredible photos).
Clientele: Beachgoers; sun-worshippers; a mix of couples young and old; families with young children; destination wedding crowds; honeymooners; business professionals.
Design: Surrounded by natural landscape, palm trees and domestic flora are left untouched; incredible views of the ocean from the second floor balconies; Victorian architecture in the lobby and rooms (cast-iron chandeliers, marble floors, glass tables); multi-level resort complex (an elevator is required to go down to the beach); unobstructed views of the ocean from the main buffet; a wedding gazebo on a hill overlooking the ocean; huge outdoor eatery with views of the town and the harbour, filled with fishing boats.
- Walking distance to Bahia Village (free transportation is available);
- One hour of watersports per day included;
- Hydromassage tub in the Junior Suite Superior
- Wide range of choice in the buffet;
- Clean beach (there is zero sargassum in the north Dominican)
Note: WiFi is available for an additional charge; free WiFi in the main lobby only.
Property: Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado
Vibe: posh, upper-class, sophisticated, luxurious.
Clientele: big spenders; well-to-do corporate/business professionals; couples celebrating a major milestone (anniversary, wedding, honeymoon, big birthday); no flip-flops or bathing suit-clad individuals in the lobby; this is a place where people dress nicely and behave professionally.
Design: Open-concept; sweeping views of the ocean from restaurants; many steep slopes and inclines to get to and from the rooms and amenities (golf carts are available for transport); marble floors; Victorian architecture (large mirrors, bronze and glass tables; four-poster beds); minimalist decor done in beiges and whites.
- Accessible only by boat, making this feel like an ultra-luxurious experience
- Spectacular sunsets during the dinner hour
- Your very own "private island" escape
- 24-hour room service
- 24-hour WiFi throughout the resort (with the ability to connect two devices)
- Pool and beach waiter service
- Butler service can be added for an additional charge