Close your eyes and imagine a place filled with sunshine, palm trees, and a stiff breeze off the ocean. Imagine an elegant and meticulously kept resort replete with a slew of activities, and you’ll find yourself at the Iberostar Grand Bavaro Resort in the Dominican Republic (DR).
It was a like a dream come true.
Allow me to tell you why.
Let me count the ways…
One—from Baltimore, we were lucky to have a direct flight to the DR. These days, with flight cancellations abounding, it was nice to know that in under four hours we would arrive. Once the plane touched down, it was relatively easy to find a driver who took us to the resort. While ours was little nutty, we soon found ourselves standing in front of a magnificent resort that took our breath away upon arrival.
Two—The Iberostar Grand Bavaro is an all-inclusive resort. As a family, we had never been to an all-inclusive before (I had been to one in Jamaica with my family for my high school graduation, and it was a ton of fun!) Therefore, at an all-inclusive, there is an abundance of food, and the resort featured seven places to eat, including restaurants and outdoor eateries. My favorite spot was having breakfast on the open covered porch that overlooks the Caribbean Sea. There was a lovely breeze coming off the ocean, and it was a delightful place to have your morning fare.
Three—The rooms are a wonderful size, and the bathroom is large as well. In each room there is a bed (or two beds, depending on the room), a lounger, and a table with chairs and enough room to eat in the room if you wish. The bathroom is spacious with a soaking tub and a separate shower with views of the resort. The balcony is a good size; ours looked out over the resort, and it was stunning both day and night.
Four—The Dominican people are friendly and like to have fun. Their sense of humor shines, and their fun-loving outlook on life was contagious. We bonded with the staff, learned a little about each of them, and partied with them, too, especially the activities staff. They always warmly greeted you with a smile or a fist bump, or by simply say, “Hola, ma family.”
Five—The activities staff made our trip memorable. When you go to an all-inclusive, there are numerous activities scheduled throughout the day. It is your choice whether to participate or not. We downloaded the activities app to see exactly what was happening all day long. From aqua bike in the pool, to archery near a hut, to dance lessons twice a day, to Bingo by the pool, to a beach party and dancing under the stars, the activities made our stay even more special. At night, there were shows in the indoor theatre, and the activities folks were there, seating guests and making sure they had a good time. Afterwards, there was dancing in the Lobby Bar area, a very elegant space for all kinds of music and dancing. To cap off the night, we ended up in the pirate ship they fondly called “The Boat,” where you descended into the ship that looked like a ship on the inside and featured a bar, deejay, and dance floor. We danced until we closed it down at 1 a.m. Our activities leaders—Maria, Gucci, Black Pearl, Black Mamba, and Travis Scott, among others (yes, some of them have nicknames, so cute!)—were on the dance floor with us in The Boat.
Six—The beach is gorgeous, with white sand and covered cabanas. I was in the DR for a week and did not get sunburned, but I did get some sun. The covered huts on the beach were so awesome, and you could lounge under the hut or in the sun—your choice. Tobias was our beach server, and we got to know him over the course of the week. He loves Superheroes, and he talked to Anthony and Matt about his favorite movies. We enjoyed the Miami Vice drink, a blend of Pina Colada with Strawberry Daiquiri.
Seven—The Pool(s). There are three pools at the resort. One is enormous with a swim up bar. One is a little quieter, and one is used for pool activities, such as volleyball and exercise class. The pool has covered cabanas and loungers, as well as lounge chairs in the water. Two hot tubs are on site, as well. I loved swimming in the pool in the late afternoon, having a drink, and relaxing before dinner.
Eight—Each floor in the resort has Butler service, and your Butler makes your dinner reservations and tends to any needs or requests you may have. Our two Butlers, Dalwel and Staling, were fantastic, and helped us get settled and offered an overview of the place and its activities. They periodically checked on us to see if there was anything we needed.
Nine—Because the resort is incredibly friendly, and because we participated in so many activities, we ended up meeting a lot of people from all over the world. We especially loved hanging out with Deedra and Kevin Norwood from Texas and the Fawcett family (Joanne, Darren, Alex and Lawrence) from York in England. We did a lot of dancing with these folks, both in dance lessons, in the lobby bar, and on The Boat.
Ten—The resort’s beauty is difficult to deny. It is elegant, regal, and welcoming at the same time. Every aspect of the resort is tended to beautifully. When you wake in the morning, you don’t have to look far to see the care and pride the resort takes in making it a special place for visitors. Every floor is polished; every chair is tended to; every person says “hola” and greets you warmly; every space throughout the resort is meticulously tended to. Our view from our room looked out over the entire resort to the water. I’m sharing the video I posted on TikTok below.
When Ellie graduated from high school two years ago before the pandemic, we had saved up for her graduation trip, just as we did with Matthew and our two weeks in California. She wanted a beach vacation, and so we delivered a beach vacation (two years late because of restrictions, etc., but we got it in!) The only problem with the trip was, once you have a beach vacation like this, it’s going to be hard to top it. But the good thing is, we have fun no matter where we go and what we do.
That said, I’m glad this vacation and celebration will be memorable for a lifetime for Ellie.
For more about Stephanie and her books and travels, you can find her at stephanieverniwrites on Instagram.