the DR: the resort.

by Janetha on February 11, 2013

in travel


so, let’s talk about the dominican republic. specifically punta cana. even more specifically the resort where we stayed: the barcelo bavaro palace deluxe. let’s get something straight before i talk about the resort.. i hate all inclusive resorts. seriously. hate. give me a dodgy hostel or a run down beach house or even a freakin’ hammock in the jungle.. just don’t put me in an all inclusive resort and tell me to eat the same gross food and stay confined in the same small spaces for a week straight. now, don’t get me wrong, i am sure there are all inclusive resorts with delicious food and amazing activities that EXIST—i have just never stayed at one.. unfortunately. so, my opinion stands, this girl isn’t a fan of the all inclusive resort vacay.

now that you know my stance on all inclusive, i will say that the barcelo bavaro was the second best all inclusive resort i’ve been to (the first being the iberostar in montego bay, jamaica.)

IMG 4915

this resort was BEAUTIFUL. it was also very large with lots of pools, bars, and restaurants.

IMG 4848

the rooms at the barcelo bavaro were fabulous! however, i think the layout was great for couples and could have been awkward for people who weren’t into letting others see them fresh outta the shower or hear them poop.

IMG 6691

the bathroom flowed right into the bedroom with no walls or doors, and the shower and toilet doors were just foggy enough so you couldn’t make out details, but you could see silhouettes and hear everything.

IMG 6690

i am a sucker for all the little mini things at hotels. i squealed.

IMG 4916

the junior suites had a hot tub on the balcony which was pretty rad!

IMG 6693

one thing to note was the delicious pear juice boxes stocked in our room’s fridge. they were phenomenal and, like, 10% juice.

IMG 4893

as i mentioned already, the food at the resort wasn’t that great. breakfast was my favorite meal because i could always get eggs made to order. some days i would get a couple over medium fried eggs and other days i would get an omelet. i always got a little bit of bacon, too.

IMG 7351

by the third day i realized there was a crepe station so i always balanced my eggs out with crepes topped with syrup and cinnamon sugar.

IMG 7345IMG 7350

i was bummed that there was no nondairy milk or a hot tea selection since i can’t do dairy or coffee anymore.. but i was fine without either all week.

lunches and dinners were mediocre. what can i say, i am a foodie and i like delicious food. i think the downfall of all inclusive resorts is that there is so much WASTED food, so they really can’t justify spending money on a better menu. it was seriously sad to see all the food that was wasted day in and day out. kinda ridiculous! but one way they minimized waste was the way they turned leftover cereal into dessert. yep, you read that right!

IMG 7342IMG 7373

chocolate covered cocoa puff clusters and white chocolate covered froot loop clusters. INGENIOUS! and so, so good! i gotta make those from home.

we did make a couple reservations for the specialty restaurants–they had a variety including mexican, seafood, steak house, italian, spanish, french (for an extra charge), and japanese. the reservations were always pretty full, but i tried the mexican and the japanese. the mexican was great because i love chips & salsa and they didn’t have those anywhere else on the resort. the japanese was tepanyaki-style so it was a good time with our large group! plus, since the food was cooked in front of us, it was the freshest we had all week.

IMG 7003

the gym was actually really nice! it was somewhat small, but the three times i went it was not crowded at all. probably because i went around noon–after everyone had came and went and was already at the beach!

IMG 4912

i was definitely a fan of the gym, even though i only used it a few times.


IMG 4910

first off, i did :30s burp-o/thrust-o for one of my workouts, so that was easy because it just required a plate weight. i finished that workout up with 1000 jumps of the rope in the spinning room–i brought my jump rope from home. for workout #2 i did a modified version of puff & push (i subbed the row with a run.) for my third and final workout of the vacation, i made up a little tabata routine that involved jumping rope, air squats, OH triceps press, sprinting, sit-ups, and aussie pull-ups. covered all the bases with that routine: push, pull, squat, core, and cardio!

even though i wasn’t working out the majority of the time, i was walking a LOT. the resort was big and so i covered a lot of ground. i hit a record stepping day on thursday and was surprised to see i broke 20k steps on my fitbit!

IMG 4886


the night life at the resort wasn’t too exciting, but since we were with a large group we made it fun.

IMG 7290

there was a show each night but we only went one time.  the stage was nice and big and there was a large area for the audience. there was a bar at the very back area behind the audience.

IMG 7295

we spent a couple nights in the disco, which opened at 11 PM. i am not a big dancer (okay, i totally hate dancing) but it was fun to watch everyone get down with their bad selves!

IMG 7310

a few of the nights were spent in the 24-hour casino. i didn’t gamble, but i watched marshall and the others win a lot of money and then learn that they lost it all. oh well, at least they had fun!

IMG 4927

there were several bars throughout the resort—a couple of them really close to the pools and the beach. if you are a big drinker, this type of vacation is ideal for you since the alcohol was included. i ended up only drinking once the entire time—i was told i HAD to try the mama juana shot, so i did.

IMG 7239

mama juana is a drink made up of rum, red wine, and honey that has soaked in tree bark and herbs. it was super popular in the DR and it was served and sold everywhere you’d turn, but i have to say i wasn’t a huge fan. i am just not a liquor lover, i guess. i’d rather have a really delicious beer. or ice cream. yeah, ice cream sounds way better. unfortunately (for me) i am off the dairy train and so i couldn’t take advantage of the all-you-can-eat ice cream cones. it was painful. i actually did eat the ice cream twice and my guts paid for it dearly. i don’t even care, it was worth it!

so.. i saved the best for last.

the best part about the resort was definitely the beach! this beach is ranked among the top ten beaches in the world. the sand was soft, the water wasn’t too cold (well, it was a little cold), and the sun was shining 95% of the time. can’t complain about that!

IMG 4844

we were able to soak up the rays and sink our feet into the sand a few of the days of our vacation—on the days we weren’t off on an excursion (more on those later.)

IMG 7278

IMG 7243

it was a good time to hang out with my co-workers and have fun in the sun.

well, that sums up my recap of the barcelo bavaro palace deluxe all inclusive resort. next time i will tell you about the four excursions i did!


1. have you stayed at an all-inclusive? thoughts?

2. what is your dream vacation destination?

xo. janetha g.


Print Friendly
Katie @ Talk Less, Say More February 11, 2013 at 8:57 pm

It definitely seems common among all-inclusive resorts that the food is just OK, but I’ve never been. I would imagine it would be hard for me in terms of what I can /can’t eat especially if they don’t have non-dairy milk! AH!! And seriously, no bathroom walls? Yeah…that’s not gonna fly.

Nicole @ Fruit 'N' Fitness February 11, 2013 at 9:26 pm

The beach looks beautiful! I have been to all inclusive resorts before and like you hate seeing how much food is wasted! especially knowing a lot of people living around those areas probably have a hard time affording enough food to feed themselves. I’m glad you and Marshal are comfortable with each other, that whole no walls thing would for sure freak me out!

Maria February 11, 2013 at 10:07 pm

The worst all inclusive: cruise ships. Ick. Never again.

On our honeymoon we had the same bathroom set up. Just a piece of frosted glass for the toilet “room”. If I were with a friend, I could see where it would be totally awkward. My husband thought it was hilarious of course…men.

And that pool. Oh my goodness…

Erica February 11, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Fabulous! I can’t wait for summer heat after seeing this post!! I have mixed feelings about all inclusives. I’ve been to 4 or 5 resorts now and had great experiences at 2 and couldn’t stand the food/the people food rush as the other 2. I think they can definitely be awesome if you research ahead of time!!

Hope @ With A Side Of Hope February 12, 2013 at 5:06 am

I love all inclusive resorts. I went to one for the first time on our honeymoon. We went to Sandals in Antigua and I would highly recommend it. The food was amazing. I don’t think I had a bad meal once there. It was a great experience. :)

Your trip looks amazing! It looks beautiful there!

lindsay February 12, 2013 at 5:25 am

red wine and liquor? that’s just wrong, wrong wrong. You don’t mix those, dangerous! LOL. obviously i know i what i’m talking about (enter sarcasm).

welcome home friend. Glad you had a good time away. You needed it!

Laura @ RunningJunkie123 February 12, 2013 at 5:50 am

I have never got to go to an all inclusive resort. I’ve never actually gone on a vacation that wasn’t just a road trip. haha. Maybe one day!

It looks beautiful there. Sucks that you had mediocre food. I think one of the best things about traveling to another country would to be to try amazing food!

Alcohol is included though?? That’d be bad for me. :-)

Jessica February 12, 2013 at 6:05 am

Speaking over chocolate covered cereal, have you ever tried something like this? OMG it is SSSSOOOO good. I think you should make a healthier version for your blog readers :)
Looks like a great time!

Sam @ Better With Sprinkles February 12, 2013 at 6:16 am

I like all inclusives, but I get bored with them after a couple of days. I’d rather be doing excursions or exploring than getting drunk by a pool/beach for a week straight.

Sarah February 12, 2013 at 7:03 am

Looks like you had a good trip!
My husband and I have been to many all inclusive resorts and the food/service definately varies widely between resorts. We went to Puerto Vallarta last June and stayed in the adults-only portion of a resort and there was only 11/100 rooms occupies (low season) so we got wonderful service…we basically had our own private chef that would cook us anything on the menu or anything NOT on the menu. It was wonderful. But yeah, totally depends on the resort! Non-all-inclusive is fun because I feel that you get to adventure more….need to do more of that!!

betty February 12, 2013 at 7:12 am

glad you had a good time, even though the food sucked! i have all your recommendations down for CR, so i’ll be eating VERY well!.. EEEK less than 2 WEEKS!

Natalie @ FitFilosophy February 12, 2013 at 7:35 am

Isn’t DR nice?!?! It’s just a nice relaxing getaway! My husband and I have been a few times and stayed nearby your hotel in Punta Cana at the Paradisus Royal. It was AWESOME! The restaurant food was ok, but I could definitely do the brunch everyday. My favorite part was the omelet station!

I usually like places with a little more to do, but this was a nice getaway, forced me to relax, and still plenty of time to get my workouts in :)

Sierra February 12, 2013 at 8:09 am

I’ve stayed at some really high end all inclusives like safari camps that are incredible, but you definitely PAY in a daily rate…no skimping.

When we needed a quick getaway in August, we booked an all-inclusive in Mexico and I was expecting it to be mediocre, but I really LOVED it. I had a couple okay meals, but once I found the places I liked, I was set. I would definitely go again and I recommend it to others.

Janet February 12, 2013 at 8:11 am

Welcome back! It looks beautiful there.
We still vacation at family beaches, kids in tow.
Someday!!! :)

And- you look amazing. Holy abs!

Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries February 12, 2013 at 8:19 am

Looks beautiful!!! Glad you guys had a great time. We went to an all-inclusive outside of Cancun and absolutely loved it. It’s so nice not having to worry about how much you’re spending on food and drinks and just going with it!

Nicole C February 12, 2013 at 9:32 am

Nope, can’t say I have or would ever spend the money on it. My heart likes adventure and sitting around in one place while skipping around the globe it’s my cup o tea.

I can’t pick just one dream destination, there are too many so here a few:

1. El Nido, Palawan Island, Philippines (
2. Dubrovnik, Croatia
3. Thailand
4. Belgium with Eden :)

Annette@FitnessPerks February 12, 2013 at 9:42 am

Looks like a beautiful place! Oh how I want to go to a beach SOOOO bad right now.

We went to an all-inclusive as part of our honeymoon (ours was like 3 weeks plus 2 more weeks a month later. we spoiled ourselves. hah), and I really liked ours! It was a bit south of Cancun (i forget the name?) and I LOVED all the fresh fruit they always had. The food was actually pretty good–and we had plenty of (virigin) straberry daiquiris and pina coladas. We lived it up on the beach & at the pool, that’s for sure. But I guess I’m sort of boring b/c I LOVE THAT. I love laying out & playing in the ocean or pool.

p.s. love your suit!

natalie @ will jog for food February 12, 2013 at 9:57 am

I love all inclusives! But I think 5 nights is the max for me. The nonstop eating drinking can be alot to take in. I’ve been lucky to stay at one that actually had really good food, The Royal Playa del Carmen. Only once was a meal “average”. Now I compare everything to that one, and the Royal always wins.

Janetha February 12, 2013 at 11:53 am

I agree–5 nights max. It was 8 days for us, TOO long! We have been to Playa twice, but always stay at the crappy Iberostar. I will have to see if The Royal is in our budget.. the downfall is we take 22 people, so we can’t go all out. But it’s good to know for the future since one requirement of the trip is that it’s all-inclusive. Thanks!

Amy February 12, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Ive been to the Royal (cancun) and is better food there than half of the places at home. It is amazing and fresh sushi at your hearts content? Dreaming now…

Teri [a foodie stays fit] February 12, 2013 at 10:30 am

a. you look gorgeous. but what else is new?
b. i love all your swimsuits!
c. i love you!

nope, never stayed at an all-inclusive so good to know that they are overrated! right now, my dream vacation is italy – all the wine regions!

Krissie J @ A Philly Nerd Girl February 12, 2013 at 11:36 am

The only vacation package I ever did was a cruise and I did not like it at all. I’d rather do an all inclusive, but even more just a nice hotel or house on the beach (like when we used to go to south beach miami). I didn’t like the cruise for the same reasons, the food was pretty much the same every day and it wasn’t anything to sneeze about. Plus, we only got on the beach TWICE and it was for a handful of hours, what a waste.

My DREAM vacation is Barcelona. I plan to go in the next 3 years. HOLD ME TO IT! :)

Janetha February 12, 2013 at 11:52 am

I won’t only hold you to it, I will join you :)

Ellie@Fit for the Soul February 12, 2013 at 11:52 am

oh my myyyyy~ what a gorgeous place!! I love the set up of the room and all the grey/green colors. :) And the water. I kinda wanna jump in there and never come back up. Wait, that wouldn’t be smart, but it just looks thaaaatt refreshing. You’re looking very strong and fit, Janetha!

Lindsay's List February 12, 2013 at 12:38 pm

i love that little bikini on you – so cute!

Susan February 12, 2013 at 1:04 pm

I just want to say you look awesome in that bikini, and I’m glad you are M had such a great trip!

Heather @ Better With Veggies February 12, 2013 at 2:53 pm

I used to be a big fan of all inclusives, but I think you’re right about the food. There was one we went to in Cozumel that was amazing, but they are owned by another company now and I have my doubts. Glad it was fun overall!

Felicia (Natural + Balanced) February 12, 2013 at 3:04 pm

We stayed at “The NOW Larimar” in punta cana this past December for a destination wedding. Food was definitely meh and by the middle of the week we allll had serious digestive problems…aka dysentery..
Didn’t drink the water and stuck with cooked meat , eggs, etc (no veggies possibly washed in the water) but there was no escaping it haha. Drinking alcohol every day probably didn’t help :)
Aside from that, it was a GREAT time and we all had a blast. DR is beautiful , but I’m definitely a fan of staying at small resort and exploring the surrounding areas

Roz@weightingfor50 February 12, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Wow. This post makes me long for a beach holiday pretty badly. Looks like a fantastic time Janetha, thanks so much for sharing your trip with us via the pictures.

Yana February 12, 2013 at 4:21 pm

I think we stayed next door to Bavaro last year in Grand Bahia resort. Was it any close? It was supposed to be somewhat upscale, so food was pretty decent.

I actually like all inclusive resorts. I prefer buffet style meals (providing quality is good) because it allows me to take a tiny bite of things I want to taste and not be stuck with a full plate if I don’t want to. I am pretty good at portion control and I am always very active. I swim for hours and take long walks on the beach and I love not having to take care of anything. As long as I don’t run out of books (no problem these days, thanks to Kindle) I can stay all inclusive for weeks if I could afford it.

Dream destination list would include revisiting Rome and Paris and visiting Fiji or Bora Bora.

Great to have you back!

andrea February 12, 2013 at 6:09 pm

I’m going to Riviera Maya and staying at an all inclusive in May and I cannot wait. it is my first grown and sexy vacation, my first passport stamp and my first all inclusive and I plan on drinking tropical drinks, eating and reading and mostly relaxing from my stressful career! My dream vacation is an eating tour of Italy, France and Spain.

April February 12, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Every vacation I have taken I stayed in an all inclusive. I just like the convenience of the food, drinks and everything else included. I have bee n to Punta Cana twice and it’s my favorite spot by far! I have also stayed at several Iberostar resorts in different places and they have had the best food compared to other resorts.

Marie February 13, 2013 at 3:46 am

You look awesome! I love that picture of you and Marshall dressed up. You look cute with or without bangs! How do you put your hair up like that; it’s so cute! Video tutorial? ;)

Janetha February 13, 2013 at 10:42 am

Hahahahah I love you! Seriously that was after being at the beach all day, not showering, throwing on a dress and putting it in a wad up on my head. Dressed up we were not :) But I am so glad it looks like it! You are the best!

sara @ fitcupcaker February 13, 2013 at 9:11 am

we went to DR last year for our anniversary, and I loved it! I also loved the gym, there was a great view of the ocean so I just was loving running on the treadmill more than usual!

Corrie Anne February 13, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Oh man. I need an ocean view treadmill. Our gym faces like the best ice cream place in Denver. Seriously. There are people lined up outside it all summer.

Corrie Anne February 13, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Right now my dream vacation is Costa Rica since we are going on a sort of last-minute trip there in less than 2 weeks! We’re actually staying at banana azul! I was never crazy about the resorts in the DR, but I always went to beaches closer to Santiago that were a little more “local.” We really want to go to Ireland sometime. And sailing in Greece. And South America. :)

Janetha February 13, 2013 at 3:22 pm

YOU ARE NOT?!?! I am soooooooooooo jealous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Best place ever!

purelymichelle February 14, 2013 at 9:33 am

amazing!!! I want to go tub on balcony? yes please

Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning February 14, 2013 at 11:23 am

Wow… that beach IS gorgeous!!
I think that the food at any all-inclusive is so-so (from what I’ve heard anyway). I’ve only stayed at one- in Cabo San Lucas. It was REALLY pretty (the RIU Palace) but I HATED it. The food was not even so-so. It was bad. And the drinks were horrible. And everyone got sick that week. The sea was so rough that you couldn’t go swimming in the ocean AND you couldn’t really even go on the beach unless you wanted to get harassed by vendors. DEFINITELY never going there again.
My dream vacation … tied between and African Safari and New Zealand. :)

Janetha February 14, 2013 at 7:31 pm

That’s where we stayed for our honeymoon. HATED it.

Cat February 18, 2013 at 9:55 am

Oh my goodness it looks like you had a TON of fun! I just got back from the DR yesterday and I had a very different experience. Fun though, but in a different place. You’re resort looks awesome :)

Lauren @ Sassy Molassy February 20, 2013 at 3:12 pm

We stayed at the Barcelo in Puerto Vallarta last spring and I loved it! The food options were actually really impressive with a ton of options and I felt that if someone were vegan or vegetarian, it would be possible to eat as you’d like and still enjoy the food.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post:

FTC Disclosure. Disclaimer.