It’s crazy to think that it’s been over two weeks already since we returned from our holiday to the Dominican Republic.
It was our first holiday abroad with the kids that was long haul and the distance on the flight initially made me a little apprehensive about how they’d (and we’d) cope. In my quest to feel as fully prepared as I could be, I decided to compile a list of recommendations of what to do when travelling long haul with kids and it definitely helped me feel more prepared.
In reality, the flights to the Caribbean and back were actually far better than I anticipated. The night flight inbound was probably worse than the day flight outbound, as my youngest two seemed to be more unsettled and as a result I didn’t get a wink of sleep. I would say that the outbound airport experience was the hardest part of the journey, as Georgie was a force to be reckoned with!
We flew with TUI on their Dreamliner and we didn’t realise until we checked in at Bristol airport that it was their first ever flight with the Dreamliner from that airport. I was so excited about flying on this plane as I’d heard how amazing the planes are and it really was. A colour changing light show on board was enough for me to be wowed! I even loved their safety video that showed on every head rest – the special effects and nod towards children, made it captivating to watch and like nothing I’ve seen on board before.
Once we landed, we were lucky enough to be able to take the kids into the cockpit where they got to test out the seats themselves. This was a very proud moment for them.
We stayed at the Memories Splash Hotel in Punta Cana. This hotel boasts its very own waterpark and is situated close by to the beautiful Bavaro Beach.
It was an all inclusive break with First Choice and ‘all inclusive’ is usually our preferred option when travelling with three young children, who like to eat all day!
The hotel itself is stunning and extremely clean throughout. I immediately felt like we were staying in a little piece of paradise.
We had a family room that overlooked one of the pools in the resort. Luckily for us, this pool proved to be the ‘quiet’ pool compared to the main pool that had loud music playing and daily activities planned.
Our pool had a swim up bar and a generally relaxed feel about it, even though there were plenty of kids playing in it.
Like with most hotels we’ve been to, expect to lay out your towels early in the morning to bag the spot you want. This is something that I generally hate when on holiday and it actually makes me anxious when we first arrive anywhere. However, I often woke early and thought that I may as well put our towels down, rather than have no where to sit once we’d had our breakfast. I generally popped out at 6.30 am and already half would be accounted for. Of course, they state that it’s not permitted but to avoid spoiling your own holiday, you kind of have to join in.
There was a very relaxed feel with cabana’s dotted around (that you had to book and pay for).
The swim up bar was a highlight for adults and kids and we spent a lot of time perched around the bar waiting for refreshments.
We particularly loved the jacuzzi part of the shallow end of the pool. Perhaps loved even more by children.
Our family room
We had a room that was situated around the pool on the ground floor. We usually prefer to have a room on the first floor upwards, so that we have a balcony but actually the ground floor worked out better as it meant that we could pop in and out of the patio doors and head straight on over to the pool.
The room was big with a large bathroom, king size bed and a bunk bed, double on the bottom and single on the top. This was situated in an area that had sliding doors, so if you wanted to divide the beds up into two rooms, then you had that option.
Although the rooms look a little tired and could do with an update, they were very clean and the chamber maids were extremely thorough when cleaning and tidying.
We’ve stayed in all inclusive hotels before and we already knew that often the food can get samey and the choice debatable at times.
As with all hotels there was a general buffet restaurant that offered varying dishes. It could be hit and miss some days but then it very much depended on what you wanted. After a couple of days, we worked out what were the better options.
We loved breakfast, where I often had poached eggs, hash browns and crispy bacon (really good bacon!). The boys often went for pancakes and the pastries and generally piled their plates with foods they couldn’t possibly eat.
During the day we often got burgers and hot dogs beside the large pool and this was a firm favourite with the boys.
For dinner, we quickly found out that Under the Sea was going to be our regular haunt. Initially we thought it would just offer seafood but we were pleasantly surprised to find that they offered some really tasty beef and chicken burgers as well as lovely tender steaks.
There is an Italian restaurant which offered fairly basic, dare I say bland meals and there was also a Mexican which we didn’t try out, but we were told served great fajita’s.
Again you always have the choice of the buffet restaurant and we found it was worth queueing to have a pasta dish freshly made with ingredients of your choice. The desserts were fairly tasty and one night we had some delicious peanut ice cream that tasted just like a snickers ice cream bar – but we never saw it again sadly.
Throughout the day, we often visited a little café (very much like a Costa’s) where you could get doughnuts, cakes, lollies and ice cream all day long. It was simply lethal!
Along with the pool bars, drinks were always easy to get hold of and they had a great selection of cocktails. Of course, it’s only fair that you try a few during your stay – in fact it’s rude not to I’d say.
During the day there was plenty of entertainment largely by the main pool. The entertainment team had various games and activities to keep people occupied, such as foam parties and water polo.
You can play badminton, table tennis and boules around the resort at your leisure. They were just dotted about and often weren’t too busy. It all had such a relaxed feel about it.
At night time there is an outdoor covered seated area that offers performances, music and movies (with popcorn given out). Nothing was too loud and brash and I loved that. There was also a social bar where you could play a game of pool.
To access the beach you need to visit the sister hotel called The Royalton, which is on the same site. It’s actually probably a 10 minute walk but it was just as easy to jump on the road train that passed through the resort all day. It was much easier to hop on that in the heat and especially so when you have a toddler that refuses to use their legs!
The beach was the one place that I couldn’t wait to get to and as soon as we arrived at our resort, I was itching to pay it a visit.
On our first visit, we literally gasped when we turned a corner and saw the sea. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a beautiful and inviting blue sea and it was everything I imagined and more.
See Part 2 where there is more about the beach and our complete VIDEO where you can really get a feel of what it’s all about.
Here is our teaser video before we went away…
Nb. Our trip was in collaboration with TUI but not on a review basis. All views and opinions are based entirely on our experience staying at Memories Splash Hotel.