The last time I visited Punta Cana was with a large group for my daughter’s high school spring break trip. This time I was also traveling with my daughter for spring break, but she is in law school now and we were looking for a different vibe. Instead of late nights and lots of shots, we were looking for spa time and sunshine. So we headed down to the Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort for some rest and relaxation.
We departed from Lansing on Funjet’s Swift Air Charter. The flights were nonstop departing at 8 am from Lansing and arriving in Punta Cana at 12:25 pm. On the return, we departed Punta Cana at 1:25 and were scheduled to arrive in Lansing at 5:45. We did have a delay of about 2 hours on the return due to an air compressor issue and strong headwinds.
You do need to complete the online form to receive an e-ticket QR code for entry and departure from the Dominican Republic. Only one application is needed per family. You must complete the information within 72 hours of travel and can either print it out, email it to yourself or save it on your phone. It is pretty quick and painless and I honestly don’t think anyone ever asked to see it. For step by step instructions, click here
Our flights were uneventful. They don’t have TV monitors onboard, so we did lots of reading. Only soft drinks and a bag of pretzels were served enroute. This is an excellent option for affordable nonstop flights to Punta Cana (and Cancun) from Michigan, particularly over spring break and the holidays. Funny enough there were lots of Canadians onboard.
Because of the 8 am departure time from Lansing, we did stay overnight at a basic Fairfield Inn in Lansing the night before our flight. The closest hotels to the airport are 10-15 minutes away. Parking at the Lansing Airport is $10 per day and you literally walk across a walkway and you are in the airport. Flying from Lansing, Michigan could not be easier.
We upgraded to Premium Class, which included a priority check in line, priority boarding, seats toward the front of the plane and one checked bag per person. It wasn’t a big deal in Lansing, but the crowds were crazy in Punta Cana and it was well worth it. The first picture is the regular line to check in in Punta Cana…the second picture is the preferred line.
We also upgraded to private transfers in Punta Cana with Amstar. They met us right outside of customs and escorted us directly to our waiting van. Again, it was worth it to avoid the crowds of people and waiting for a bus to fill up. On the return, they wanted us to depart 3 ½ hours before our flight, but I changed the time to 3 hours prior and we had more than enough time at the airport.
Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort
This was just a quick 4 night trip for some much needed R and R. We stayed at the Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort in Premium Level, which gave us full use of all of the facilities at the Barcelo Bavaro Palace next door. I was also able to make spa and dining reservations in advance by emailing email@example.com . We picked the Beach Resort because it was Adults Only, but ended up spending most of our time at the Palace Resort anyway.
The Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort rooms are very basic and in need of updating. Having said that, they were clean and the beds were comfortable. I really don’t have much else to say about the rooms. The view was wonderful, though! We were only able to find one or two TV channels in English, so we barely even turned on the TV. When we stayed at the Barcelo Bavaro Palace, the rooms were all junior suites and much nicer.
The food was fine. Punta Cana is not really know for it’s fine dining but we certainly didn’t lose any weight! The breakfast buffet had made to order omelets which were very good. Lunch in the buffets was just ok. Dinner in the ala carte restaurants was good, with Chez Gourmet and the Hibachi Restaurants being the best.
The main brand of liquor and wine everywhere in the resort is the Barcelo brand. They serve a Barcelo red and white wine, but you must pay for any other wines off a wine list. We drank quite a few delicious mojitos with coconut rum, so I really have no complaints. But, if you order a Bacardi and Coke, they say “No Bacardi. Barcelo.”
The pool area was beautiful at both resorts. The beach is one of the top 10 in the world, but they are having seaweed issues. They cleaned it up every morning and night, but by mid afternoon it was pretty bad. We did not notice a smell from the seaweed at all.
There were very few activities going on both during the day and at night around the resorts. They had a stretch/yoga class on the beach each morning and a dance class on the beach each afternoon. That is about all that we saw for daytime activities.
We spent a day at the spa at the Palace and enjoyed massages, hot and cold plunge pools and wet and dry saunas. There is also a private spa pool that was very peaceful and quiet with plenty of shade.
At night, the Beach Resort had music in the lobby and the Palace Resort had a basic show each evening around 10 pm, but we were in bed by then. Lol! The Palace also has a Casino, Disco and Strikers sports bar and bowling lanes.
Overall, it was a relaxing girl’s getaway and we returned refreshed. I would say that the Barcelo Bavaro Palace is a solid 4 star property and the Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort is a 3 star option. If you can get it for a great price and don’t need lots of activities and entertainment on vacation it would be fine. But honestly, there are so many other options in Punta Cana, I would try some place else if we were to return.