My wife and I don't really take all-inclusive trips too often, as a lot of our travel is either for visiting family overseas or exploring a new country. But every once in a while, it is nice to have all the food taken care of when you travel and have a nice beach vacation staying at a resort - this time for 7 days in the Spring of 2008.
Iberostar has three resorts (Dominicana, Punta Canada and Bavaro) in one area here, and no matter which part you stay in you can walk through the entire resort, use any of the pools and get any of your drinks & towels where you want. The main differentiator is the food, with the guests of the Bavaro having access to all the restaurants, guests of the Dominicana had access to their own restaurants and the ones of the Punta Cana and the guests of the Punta Cana were limited to their restaurants.
Before we took this trip in April of 2008 and picked our destination, we did a lot of research on the various resorts before finally finding this one with the right price. We had been in the Bavaro/Punta Cana area before, so we knew what to expect. And even though we had booked the Iberostar Dominicana.
The Dominicana and the Punta Cana (if I remember correctly) are more hotel like buildings with many rooms within the unit, but the Bavaro only has 8 units per building and the units seem more like suites (without a kitchen, but with a nice size bathroom and a living room). We're not sure how we were upgraded, but it always seems to help that my wife knows Spanish and we had also called the hotel ahead of time and requested a quiet room. While we did receive the upgraded accommodation, we still did not have access to the restaurants of the Bavaro.
The food was decent and even though you eat most of your meals in one of the buffet restaurants, you can also reserve a seat in their specialty restaurants, which we ended up doing once or twice. Both of us pretty much like the Dominican Food, such as Platanos Fritos (Fried Plantanes) or the excellent Banana Shakes or fresh fruit juices they offered.
The crowd at the hotel was a mixture of people from many countries - many of them from Canada like us. There were families, younger people and some elderly couples. It did tend to get quite crowded around the pool and beach areas, but we always found one spot or the other a bit later in the day. The beach is beautiful and the water is nice. Since the entire beachfront in this area is public, you can basically swim wherever you want.
If you would like to buy some souvenirs, why not walk along the beach to one of the markets that offer many choices rather than paying a higher price in the resort boutique. And if you are ready to haggle, go for it since prices can usually be brought down quit a bit :)
The video shows a bird that caught a fish in one of the resorts ponds, located directly next to the area where we were having breakfast. However the bird could never get the fish down, it was just too big.