I just got back from a visit to Punta Cana, and my trip report (with photos of all the resorts that I toured) will be ready soon.  In the meantime, I have a very interesting blog post from my travel companion, my sister Kate.

Kate is a busy mother of two little girls, and has a very demanding full time job as well, so she jumped at the chance to spend a couple of days on the beach. But she is also a sophisticated New Yorker and a bit of a “foodie”, so I was not at all sure what she would think of our all-inclusive resort. Her first-hand report is below:

Before my recent stay at the Majestic Colonial in Punta Cana, I had never been to an all-inclusive resort. And to be honest, when the opportunity presented itself, I was so excited about the prospect of a few days on the beach, without the kids, that I didn’t really give much though to what I expected the all-inclusive experience to be like. But my trip — in addition to being a much-needed respite from the chaos of being a full-time working mom — was a great introduction to this type of travel experience. Here are my “takeaways,” for any other all-inclusive virgins out there:

1. All-inclusive resorts are a great way to stick to a budget. If you (like me) have a spouse who enjoys his cocktails on the beach, or kids who aren’t sure what they want to eat and like to sample a little bit of a lot of different things, having everything paid for up front takes away the stress of overspending.

2.  There was no sacrifice on the quality of service or amenitites. The grounds were beautifully kept, the beach was gorgeous, and the rooms were clean. We even had the same “towel animals” and flower petals left in our room each night that I got on my honeymoon at a very high-end resort.

3. The food, on balance, was fine. With one exception (dinner at a restaurant that had reopened that very night after a major fire), the meals were pretty good. The quality and variety of the buffets was better than I would have expected. The restaurant dinners, on the other hand, were not as good as I had hoped they would be. But I like to eat out and am used to NYC restaurants, so I have high expectations 🙂

4. All-inclusives — at least this one — are a good option for a family vacation. The resort was very kid-friendly (shallow pools; variety of restaurants; kids’ activities, etc.), without being obtrusively so. Although I probably wouldn’t have considered it before, I would now.