Posts Tagged With: travel blog

Review: Be Live Hotel Collection, Punta Cana

I usually don’t review hotels, resorts and other services because I don’t want to go on that path. I definitely don’t want to commercialize my blog. But I just had to write about Be Live Hotel Collection, Punta Cana. We spent a week there, which gave me enough time to observe and retrospect. I feel very strongly about some of the things I experienced there.

We got booked there by mistake by a third party website. We were promised their Dreams Suite, as compensation (and access to VIP sections) but were put up in a Junior Suite for some days. This in turn turned out to be a good thing because I was then able to compare both of them.

The truth about Dreams Suites (aka Master Suites)

As compared to a Junior Suite, a Dreams Suite is smaller. And older. It’s only plus point is its accessibility to the VIP Lounge and Beach sections and the lobby. Otherwise, I would prefer a Junior Suite any day. It is much more spacious, quiet and modern. In the Dreams Suite, paint was chipping off, fixings like switch boards falling off and the air conditioning making mammoth noise. The bed was huge, but mattress and bed sheet much smaller. The toilet was tiny and did not have a full door.

The Junior Suite, on the other hand, was very classy. Even the cleaning crew did a better job cleaning this one as compared to the VIP area.

General Service of the Resort

When we checked into the hotel (which was 2 days before New Year’s Eve), people all around were complaining. They didn’t get the rooms they had booked. Or, despite their reservation, they were turned back because there were no rooms available. The resort was clearly overbooked.

In general, the whole of Punta Cana / Santo Domingo / Bavaro region (and probably the rest of Dominican Republic) has a very laidback culture. Service is slow everywhere. People are very relaxed and easygoing. Having said that, I will add that they are simple and friendly.

But the front desk and VIP Lounge staff were arrogant. There were people all around them, begging for rooms or services or something else and either they were overwhelmed or plain arrogant. They clearly had an upper hand in everything and they didn’t care less about customer service.

The staff can be pushy. As soon as you check-in, the Vacation Club guys will hoard you and pester you to listen to their presentation. They might even pursue an unsuspecting you when you are casually strolling by the next day with a drink in your hand. At night, after their daily show is over, their staff will pester you to ‘Come to Disco Disco’, which goes on from 11 pm to 4 am. They will go from group to group, in the common area located in the center of the resort, where people hang out till late by the pool side sipping drinks or playing games, and say ‘Come to Disco Disco’. I am quite against this ritual. I would go to Disco if I wanted to or if it was my choice of enjoyment. I know you have Disco going on everyday from 11 pm to 4 am and I will be there if I want to. You don’t have to pester me to participate in any of your activities. It is not compulsory for me for attend all of resort’s activities.

Other down sides of the resort were the food. There are very few specialty restaurants and each of them has a very small menu. I found the Japanese restaurant to be okay. Rest were very average.

The beach has muddy, unclear water. The whole region has a lot of seaweed. Be Live, luckily, promptly cleans the water and shores of seaweed but that doesn’t stop the water from being muddy. My suggestion would be to go to Playa Macao for wonderful, clear, turquoise blue waters.

Having said all of the above, my overall vacation to the Dominican Republic was great. We met some great people, had some good food, enjoyed great weather and relaxed big time. More of that coming up soon on the blog.

Meanwhile, here are some pictures I took across the resort:

Be Live Hotel Punta Cana

View from Dreams / Master Suite

Be Live Hotel Punta Cana

Flamingoes in a little pond near the common area

Be Live Hotel Punta Cana

Cabanas in the VIP Beach area

Categories: Dominican Republic, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Singapore The Third Time

Before I realize it, it is time for me to leave for Singapore. I panicked today (like I always do before every foreign trip). I leave from Baroda on 3rd May for Bombay to catch the flight to Singapore on 4th May early morning. I can’t express how excited that vision is – of holding your passport in one hand and the suitcase handle in the other. Before that comes lots of preparation – deciding what clothes to carry (see how this comes on top of the list), packing in utilities, ensuring no essential item is missed out, local travel, currency. I kept thinking I have loads of time and lo behold, I just have 5 days left!

I wasn’t as excited for this trip as I was for my previous 2 trips because Singapore isn’t new to me. I’ve been there 2 times before – both as a tourist and as a local. Having seen Sentosa, Merlion, Night Safari, Little India, Jurong Bird Park, I have also explored their malls – Ion, Vivocity, Tampines & Jurong Point – and food joints. There is still a lot to be done and seen there. This time, I am going to be armed with a brand new SLR and just the image of me clicking photos with it is quite satisfying.

We are going to be spending good 8 days in Singapore. Out of these, my sister (who is going to be our host for these 8 days) will be attending work for 3 days during which time my Mum and I will be on our own. A very careful itinerary has been made (otherwise also needed to decide which ensemble to wear when) mentioning the mall, food joint and sightseeing spot to be visited each day.

Having seen the most apparent parts of Singapore already, I am keen to see below the surface this time. My sister instantly ruled out nature parks and trails. I managed to get Chinatown, Singapore Zoo & Emerald Hill approved.

As I catch hold of whatever piece of paper I can find to quickly make the things-to-carry list, I remember my first foreign trip 5 years ago to SE Asia (Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore). I was so excited that my suitcase was packed and ready to be taken a month before we actually left. I have still preserved the to-take list I had made that time. Since that first foreign trip, I have not seen any dip in my enthusiasm levels. I am as excited as I was that time for every trip hence, whether in India or outside.

The first trip abroad in 2007 was driven by the childish curiosity of seeing what foreign countries were like. The real moment of enlightenment came in 2008 when I visited Switzerland & Paris with my family. That trip me showed me a world that I was actually attached to but still so unknown, different and far away. I had told my parents that time that by 2010, I wish to have 10 countries’ visa stamp on my passport. I managed to have 6 (excluding the multiple Schengen & Singapore visas). My dream from that time was to see the whole world. My eyes had opened to the fact that the world out there is very huge and very different and you can’t die without seeing it. When I took a stand in the last 2 years and went to Australia and Europe even though my family and several friends condemned me for wasting (imagine, spending money for travel means a waste for them) money like this. Very few supported. In my heart I knew I had to go. And I did. I cherished each moment of walking on foreign lands and feeling a part of a world which is much bigger than my hometown.

A friend asked me today how resolute I am towards travel. Will I travel irrespective of company / situation? Am I a compulsive traveller? I was forced to think about it. So, I have been a compulsive traveller till now. If not foreign trips, it is nearby Baroda. Or in Baroda. But the desire of seeing /experiencing something new, the need for being marvelled at staggering new sights & the yearning for being transformed into a different being never eludes me. The quest here is not of travelling but of learning which will always remain eternal for me.

The third visit to Singapore is going to amaze me equally more. I am quite likely to return as a new being.

Some pics taken during my first visit:

Thai, Mala, Sing 3791

Merlion from ropeway to Sentosa

Thai, Mala, Sing 3361

The famous hotel where we were told Shah Rukh Khan always stays when he visits Singapore

Thai, Mala, Sing 3571

The typical coloured windows

Thai, Mala, Sing 3581

A Chinese temple

Thai, Mala, Sing 4081

Sentosa Island

Thai, Mala, Sing 4311

That’s me at the southern most tip of Asia at Sentosa island

Categories: Photography, Singapore | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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