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KAKI Please help with SDQ airport!

New York
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KAKI Please help with SDQ airport!

I am looking to go to CDM in April with my boyfriend out of NY. Flights to La Romana and Punta Cana are expensive and inconvenient. THe flights to SDQ are cheap and nonstop. My boyfriend is scared about travelling 2 hours in a taxi. He thinks it is very unsafe and we should pay the extra 500 to fly into La Romana. I think he thinks we are the first people to ever take a taxi from this airport. Can you please share your experience with me (and him) which may help in our decision! Thank y ou sooo much!

Saskatoon, Canada
Destination Expert
for La Romana, Bayahibe
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10 reviews
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1. Re: KAKI Please help with SDQ airport!

Happy to!

I just posted on a thread where somebody was looking for a confirmation that Rafael Silva and his company (www.dominicantaxi.com) were legit. Totally!

On the Forum at Debbie's Dominican Travel a man posted that when traveling to CDM from SD, don't pay more than $80 for the transfer. He said he talked one guy down to $65 but it felt shady and they abandoned that deal to go with another guy for $75. But then he commented that he suffered an excess of inhalation of exhaust fumes.

I thanked him for validating that the $85 that Silva's Travel charges is money extremely well spent! I, for one, feel that $10 to secure a reliable and clean vehicle for a comfortable drive for as much as 90 to 105 minutes is worth it.

Laura, I hope you can convince your boyfriend that the trip isn't all that bad. I really enjoyed it and I don't really like road travel like that! I came in at night and was full of excitement so didn't really notice the time passing nor the challenges of safety. However, I left in the afternoon and found the drive quite interesting. You cross 3 rivers and go past a few of the other resorts along the south coast. There is some useful land of agriculture and some towns. It's interesting to see what they do with garbage disposal (dump it in the front yard) and to see the motoconchos jockeying for their place in traffic. I have a couple of pictures that I can share if you're interested. The drive through La Romana was totally cool to see the estalishments and signage and the types of vehicles that they drive and the way they direct traffic. I say that I was like a bobble headed doll flipping from one side to the other with my camera! I never once felt like I was in danger.

To save $300 is a lot. To use $190 for a drive that will allow you to transfer speedily and safely from SD to CDM is what I would recommend, be it with the company I mentioned or another. I am looking forward to doing it again in April when I travel with 3 other friends!

Any particular questions?

Kaki

New York
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2. Re: KAKI Please help with SDQ airport!

Thank you for your reply. I think I talked him into it after I told him about your experience. i think it will be interesting to see the DR and not just the resorts! A few more questions though...

Did you go in the taxi on your own or do they take other travelers with you?

What time did you go? We are arriving at 11 am but our departing flight leaves at 730 am so we will have to leave the hotel pretty early..can we rely on the taxi service to be there?

Now some CDM questions...

I hear there is a casino around the hotel..do you know anything about it? Have you ever been there?

How are the rooms? Any specific area better?

We dont expect the night life to be party central but we dont want to be bored either so is there anything to do at night?

Can you leave the resort...or is there any reason to leave the resort (ie shopping, nightlife at other hotels etc)?

How is the food? Our standards are reasonable and we understand that the food will not be like it is here in New York but how many restaurants are there and is there a coupon system or anything or can you go wherever you want whenever you want to?

How about alcohol...is it only domestic thats included?

Anything special we should know before we book?

Thank you so much in advance for any info you can offer! This is our first time travelling to the DR and I have been driving myself crazy trying to pick a hotel and get a decent flight! When are you going in April? We plan on being there April 17-23rd!

Laura

New York
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3. Re: KAKI Please help with SDQ airport!

one more thing... i would love to see your pictures my email address is Laurab333@hotmail.com!

Thanks

Saskatoon, Canada
Destination Expert
for La Romana, Bayahibe
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4. Re: KAKI Please help with SDQ airport!

Hey LI Laura!

Will get to your questions shortly, but just wanted to share while I have 2 seconds that I will be there with my posse from April 20 - 27! See you then!

Kaki

Saskatoon, Canada
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for La Romana, Bayahibe
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5. Re: KAKI Please help with SDQ airport!

Q. Did you go in the taxi on your own or do they take other travelers with you?

A. I went by means of a private transfer. They will only carry the people that you condone. If you meet somebody on the plane and offer to share the drive with them, that may be fine (consult with the driver or Sr. Silva in advance), but in general you have purchased a private transfer that costs $85 for up to 5 people.

Q. What time did you go? We are arriving at 11 am but our departing flight leaves at 730 am so we will have to leave the hotel pretty early..can we rely on the taxi service to be there?

A. The company is wholly reliable. Of course crap happens and anything can happen at any time, but this company failing to meet its party is not something that I've ever heard. When my flight departed at 7 p.m. I was picked up at 3 p.m. That may factor in La Romana traffic which may not be as bad at 5:30 a.m. as it is at 4 p.m. but Sr. Silva usually does the math for you and will advise when you'd be picked up. I'd allocate 90 minutes for the drive and 90 to 120 minutes for check in at SD. That would have you picked up between 3:30 and 4:30. Sounds like you should pull an all nighter and find time for a nap later!

Q. I hear there is a casino around the hotel..do you know anything about it? Have you ever been there?

A. The casino that you can access from CDM is at Santana Beach Resort and Casino. I don't know anything about it in particular (not a gambler myself) except to know that the casino is rather attractive but not overly large. The shuttle is provided by the Casino, not CDM. It is open from 7 or 8 p.m. (conflicting info on that) until 3 or 4 a.m. Let concierge know that you are interested in going and they will contact Santana Beach for you. It's about 30 minutes from CDM.

Q. How are the rooms? Any specific area better?

A. I have always liked the rooms in building 2. Approximately 1/2 of them have a partial ocean view, the block is quiet, it's relatively central and the rooms were recently renovated. However, by the time we arrive in April they may have commenced construction on two new room blocks in that area and will have closed that block. In that case, building 3 will be the one. There, you can overlook the pool, see a bit of ocean or the garden (where the construction will be once started). These rooms were relatively recently renovated as well. The rooms are nice and functional and clean, but not overly fancy. There are no four poster beds or jacuzzis or steps up to the bed. But the view is great or else you are minutes from the beach in this central location. If you choose to avoid the construction, building 5 is the other building that flanks the pool and building 7 overlooks the spa. You should email Florian or Fabio at concierge and tell them which view and block you prefer (concierge@sunscapecasadelmar.com.do). They will forward your room request to the rooms division.

Q. We dont expect the night life to be party central but we dont want to be bored either so is there anything to do at night?

A. The show starts at the theatre at about 9:30 - 10 p.m. every night. When it's over at 11, there is a singer and keyboard player in the lobby at the bar there, with dancing and conversation and card playing, depending on what the guests want that night. The disco opens in the Asia restaurant then too. The animacion team starts the party there and provides you with dance lessons if needed, or partners to dance, if needed. After a while the lights dim further and the party continues, again depending on the guests in residence at that time. On Thursday and Friday nights you can go to the disco in Bayahibe called Big Sur. It can be kind of crazy though, with varying reviews from "perfectly safe" to "it's not recommended". I've not yet needed to check it out so can't provide a personal comment.

Q. Can you leave the resort...or is there any reason to leave the resort (ie shopping, nightlife at other hotels etc)?

A. During the day, it is perfectly safe and quite interesting to walk down the beach to Bayahibe and stroll around. There isn't much for real shopping there, a lot of tourism oriented things (t-shirts, paintings, coffee, vanilla, carvings, etc.) but I still recommend the walk. It is a real town with a school and residences and fishermen, but being overtaken by tourism. You can also leave the resort by doing the horseback ride in the morning (check in with Mario at the towel hut). You will either take a truck ride out to the stables and ride back, or the other way around. That shows you a bit of the area by the Iberostar hotel and the beach on that side of Bayahibe. You will also go through Bayahibe on the ride. You can do a bunch of excursions to islands and sites, but if you are interested in shopping, you can arrange with concierge to get a drive into La Romana to one of the 2 major department stores there, the Jumbo or Iberia store. I was into the Jumbo and it was interesting! I hope to get back again in April to take a closer look (I was on a mission the last time and didn't have time to peruse the shelves). That is $50 for the car and driver for 2 hours. You will again get to see some of the area and the city. There isn't much for nightlife at the other resorts either. You can check to see if Santana Beach has a disco when there for the casino!

Q. How is the food? Our standards are reasonable and we understand that the food will not be like it is here in New York but how many restaurants are there and is there a coupon system or anything or can you go wherever you want whenever you want to?

A. That food question is loaded! I really enjoy the food there, but some report that the food is plain and there is limited selection. I don't really understand the lack of selection summary myself. There is always more than enough for me to choose from. Lunch and dinner offers much the same fare in the buffet. There are an array of salads (about 4 which vary a bit every day) and greens that you can assemble yourself. There is always a steamed veg option, plus a potato and rice. Beans in varying ways, burgers, always fresh grilled chicken and fish and churrasco, pasta with the sauce of your choice from some basic ingredients, and a roast of some kind or other. I had regular roast chicken, a roast stuffed turkey breast, beef with chocolate sauce, and lamb. Full dessert selection, excellente ice cream (and soft serve cones) and gorgeous fruit. And that is just the buffet! The a la cartes are considered the good dining! There is the Asia restaurant, Da Mario's Italian, the New World Cafe buffet, Seaside Grill and pool snack bar. There is no coupon or other tracking method. You can go to all restaurants as often as you want with no reservations.

Q. How about alcohol...is it only domestic thats included?

A. Are you looking for anything in particular? What I know about premium brands is from the beach bar. The lobby bar is supposed to be the one with the variety of selection though. The beach bar stocked Beefeater gin and Stolichnaya vodka. You can get Brugal rum there too, and they had a variety of liqueurs too, like Tia Maria.

I don't think I have any other great pearls to offer before you book. If you do select this resort, I hope you love it as much as Baltobabe and I do. They have 2 great spas, amazing snorkeling right from the beach and other great water activities. The horseback ride is great too, not offered at all resorts. The Caribbean blue waters are perfect and a couple of activities are held in the water since it's so accommodating. I love the water aerobics in the ocean, and they often have the Beach Olympics including water components.

It is a very unstuffy and comfortable resort with beautiful grounds and the best vantage point to see the great sunsets.

I am trying to load my pictures to Webshots so if I don't get that done really soon, I'll just send you the traffic pictures as I come across them!

Kaki