Everything they say about the unique Spanish-influenced island is true; crystal blue waters, white sandy beaches and food cooked from the heavens to say the least. As soon as the plane lands at the Punta Cana International Airport you feel welcomed into the Dominican culture while gazing into an oasis with its hut like decor and fresh, blissful air.
Arriving on a Thursday afternoon from a US Air connection out of Charlotte, NC my family and I looked forward to the 4-day weekend to celebrate Father’s Day as a unit. The immigration and customs lines were minimal, yet a $10 fee per person is mandatory for entry into the country. Don’t you just love tourism! After a few days of research, based on the optimal level of nutrition Punta Cana resorts have to offer, wifey and my two younger daughters were led to Sanctuary Cap Cana, a member of the Alsol Hotels and Resorts family. After paying $90 for the 15-minute round trip drive, we realized a rental car should have been our choice of transport, especially since the roads were quiet, clean and easy to navigate.
With all its splendor and beauty, duly note that Punta Cana is a resort town and leaves little to pervade the imagination outside of their pristine beaches and clear waters. Rarely did we see any locals, especially kids hitting balls across fields. The areas outside of Sanctuary were specifically calm, yet perfect for running. More on that in a bit.
Of course upon check-in we had to wait 2 hours before our room was ready. No problem, 88-degree weather was timely for our arrival and the serene property grounds were most welcoming. The early morning travel left us famished so our appetites guided us to one of five impeccable restaurants dubbed Blue Marlin. Known largely for its fresh catch of the day, we grubbed on salad, gazpacho, vegetable tomato pasta and chilled cantaloupe, watermelon and pineapples for dessert, the kids’ favorites. Along the patio deck is the palapa for reading or simply enjoying your thoughts while vibrant, turquoise waves gently greet the resort’s rocky framework. Jazz and Merengue played alongside the mild ocean breeze while we filled up on Spanish goodness.
The majestic villa resort houses 176 suites such as the Spanish Colonial, Caribbean Villas or The Fortress. Architecture consists of two bedroom suites to two-level apartments with private views. Yet, if you want to get fancy please inquire about the Honeymoon Suite with a full pool inside the room! There is also the convenience and amenity of 24-hour room service. Reservations upgraded us to a Beach Front suite for the delayed check in.
Resort activities for all come in the form of the Sanctuary Spa, an Arts and Crafts gift shop, a 12-hour fitness center with both machine and free weights and five divergent pools. My favorite was the waterfall pool which was peaceful and medicinal. My wife cozied up with the swim up bar while the kids simply jumped in the closest body of water they could find. In the evening they converted from sea creatures to land animals and danced their young nights away at the Mini Disco For Kids Club. For the risqué type, the resort will shuttle you to Tower Casino for nightly gambling. Last but not least is the Jack Nicklaus Signature experience at the exclusive Punta Espada Golf Club, revered as the top golf course in the Caribbean and Mexico.
I was more interested in resting by 10 pm nightly to ascertain 8 hours of sleep for a date with Cap Cana’s 5:57 am sunrises. However, the king size bed was flat and felt more like a layer of foam than a bed of flowers. Additionally, a screen on the patio sliding door would have been nice to sleep with the moist ocean air opposed to the stuffy AC. Nevertheless our condo-sized room provided more than enough comfort.
Of course at Fit Fathers we seek adventure, active vacationing and healthful eating when galloping around the world. The options were endless so we mixed it up each day. In no special order we ran as a family outside the resort, performed plyometrics on the beach, played beach volleyball, turned the pool into an aqua gym, and last but not least swam our fins off. We must have burned thousands of calories in the pools and oceans during the 4-day excursion, especially in the Olympic sized pool. I’m pretty sure even Ryan Lochte would have utilized this facility for training opposed to vacationing. That’s right, even in paradise we run free. I wonder what other’s active routine of choice is when vacationing? Specifically, on Fit Father’s Day I went alone and ran 6-miles in the Dominican heat to kick off the day. The vacation exercise equation is simple: 1 hour of workouts and 10 hours of relaxation equals a 10% commitment! Do what you must, swim, run, lift, volleyball, but just keep moving!
The all-inclusive package kept the nutrients flowing and each eatery was very accommodating to our special requests. Yet, it was annoying receiving a zero balance check upon every exit, but Sanctuary certainly left room for a tip. Isn’t that the point of all-inclusive, to avoid the hassle? Anyway, our most memorable culinary experience was at Wok featuring Asian Fusion food from the Orient. I can still taste the Tofu Pad Thai!
To free ourselves from resort life we ventured upon a tour, the Ocean Spa with Dr. Fish. Speak with the hotel in detail because we spent more than an hour traveling each way to pick up other tourists before arriving to the dock. Then, we had to wait another hour before boarding the boat while vendors hounded us to buy local arts and crafts. Nonetheless, the 3-hour sail was rewarding as we received foot detoxes, massages, a yoga class, swimming in the ocean and a pedicure from baby barracudas. That’s right, these little fish ate all the dead skin from our bottoms.
Day four and it was time to head home; yep another vacation trip in the books. So what is it all about? For me it’s experiencing life itself and not the man-made tangibles that steer us from the purities of life. It’s about nourishing yourself with fruits and vegetation; energizing naturally through runs in the sun and not supplements; exploring diverse cultures globally who share similar passions; loving your family deeply and infinitely; and of course extending this gained knowledge and these blessings to those eager for positive change! This is what “life on the road” is about for the Fit Fathers team. One Love!