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March 12, 2021
I just returned from another fantastic trip to the Dominican Republic!!
This was my birthday trip, but I left a few weeks early because I didn’t want the weather to be too hot for what I wanted to do!
It’s winter in the Dominican, and their winter temps are still “summer-like” for me. Daytime can be 82-88 degrees. Nighttime drops down about 10 degrees.
Since it was my birthday trip, I spared no expense! You already know, I have no problem spoiling myself!!
I left from Newark and flew first class. First class\business class actually has their own private check-in on the third level of the airport. I only recently discovered that last year, so it was actually my first time checking in up there!!
I bought a one-time pass for the “United Club”. They offered me a discount on the United app, so I paid $35. Food and drink were included as well as a fabulous little coffee station! Due to Covid restrictions, they no longer serve hot food. Everything was packaged and sealed. The United lounge was in terminal C, around gate 90, on the second floor! It was large and beautiful, and it was slightly more crowded than I would have imagined. Still, I was able to find a seat with plenty of distance from other people!
In case you’re losing track of time, United will actually text you and tell you it’s time to board. I had priority boarding which allowed me to go right to the front of the line.
United Airlines does not leave the middle seat open/blocked on the plane. The plane was not full and I felt completely safe. To fly right now, you must have a face mask that covers your mouth, nose and chin. Face shields are not accepted. You can take your mask off briefly to have a snack or a drink. If the flight attendant is talking to you were in your role, you absolutely must have your mask on!
I flew one way from Newark International Airport to Santo Domingo airport. Since I was switching locations several times on this trip, I flew in to Santo Domingo (SDQ) and I flew out from Punta Cana! I have flown both of these flights before and feel very comfortable in the Dominican Republic!
The Dominican Republic is currently still on a curfew.
The times actually changed while I was in the Dominican Republic, but when I landed the curfew was 5 PM. My flight landed there at 3:30 so I went right to my hotel in Santo Domingo! I picked a hotel that was close and that had a rooftop pool (of course)! (The Hampton by Hilton SDQ. It’s beautiful and also has a restaurant! The hotel is clean (follows Covid protocols) and the staff is friendly!!
I spent 2-3 days in Santo Domingo.
Places I visited – (You can find them on my Instagram)
Boca Marina Restaurant (brunch right on the Caribbean)
Casa del Ron
After my stay here, I switched locations and went north to Samaná. I stayed 3 days glamping in a gorgeous treehouse at Dominican Treehouse Village. It was so amazing that it needs its own blog post! (Photos up on my IG)
It was my first time sleeping in a treehouse and my first time in the Northern part of the country!!
It was also a 10 minute drive to Playa el Valle (beach).
It was absolutely stunning, and I would definitely do it again!
More on that in a separate blog post!!!
I then switched locations again, ( I had a car) and went to Punta Cana on the eastern coast. I stayed in an AirBnB. I wasn’t quite sure how I would do camping (glamping) in the woods for a few days, so I purposely sandwiched the camping trip in the middle of a few days at a hotel and then a few days at an Airbnb!
I love Punta Cana. It’s one of my most favorite places in the world! I speak pretty good Spanish. and I am absolutely comfortable there!
Places I visited in Punta Cana:
- Blue Mall Punta Cana
- Playa Blanca Beach Club and Restaurant
- Api Beach Club in Cap Cana
- The Marina Cap Cana
- Onno’s Restaurant in Bavaro
Covid test Update to return to the United States –
United States law requires that you have a negative Covid test, no more than three days old, to re-enter the country.
Let me just tell you, the Dominican Republic made this so easy. I actually tried to make it more complicated than it was! Testing centers were so easy to find and navigate! I made my appointment online at Centro Medico Punta Cana.
Although I had an appointment, when you get there you basically just take a number and sit and wait until you’re called. I only waited about 10 minutes, and when they called me, they insisted I came too early for my test. I assured them that I counted correctly, and it was three days before my trip. They then told me they want to give me the rapid test, and I should return 24 hours before my flight.
My first thought was that this was some kind of scam to make me pay more money, so I insisted that they test me while I was there. The woman was so nice to me and told me that their rapid test would be done in 20 minutes, and it would only cost me $40. The three day test would cost me $89! Imagine my surprise! My American mind could not wrap my head around this! Lol! In my mind, anytime you need to rush something, express something, or do it rapidly, it’s usually more money! Well not there! She was so sweet and she convinced me to come back 24 hours before my flight! I did just that, and everything went fantastic!
Now, the one thing I am not sure of is, what would happen if you come up positive? I wish I would have asked her that question … After she had given me negative test results of course!
Safety update – Masks are absolutely required in all public places in the Dominican Republic. Most public places, as you enter, also check your temperature. You are free to remove your mask around the pool or when you’re on the beach when you are safely socially distanced from any other people!
Also, I did research and saved two other, significantly cheaper, Airbnb‘s
in the event I tested positive and had to stay longer and quarantine there! (Which fortunately didn’t happen)
Returning Home My PUJ VIP experience –
I have been to the Dominican Republic 15 times, and this was the first time I have done VIP service in Punta Cana airport (PUJ)!
It was totally worth it! The price is $125. It includes a fast track through check-in, customs, and immigration. You have your own personal attendant who personally walks you through to the front of the line of everything! She then escorts you to a private VIP lounge where appetizers and drinks are included! One of the other reasons I chose to do this option was because I was trying to limit how many people I was around! I actually found this service on their Instagram page and found the link there that took me to their email!
I made my reservation through email, and I paid in cash when I met my personal attendant Maria! All in all, it was a fantastic service that I absolutely would recommend. And, I would do it again!! Total VIP treatment!
Note*** you DO need your printed paper with your negative test results to check-in for your flight! They DID check it several times in the airport! You CAN NOT board the plane without your negative test results!!
Again, you absolutely need to have a face mask to fly home. I have to admit I felt even more comfortable knowing that Punta Cana airport did not let anyone board the plane without that negative test!
I took one of the last flights of the day heading to Newark. We flew home literally watching the sun go down. It was so beautiful! (I had a window seat in first class)
On this particular flight, the flight attendants did have to make several announcements about mask wearing. I was in row two so I am not too sure about what was going on anywhere further behind me. But I am led to believe that someone might not have been fully complying! After nicely reminding the passengers that we were entering United States territory, and this is a United States federal law, all went well!! No problems and a great flight!!
Entering the U.S.
When we landed in Newark, several planes must have landed at the same time because customs and immigration had a very long line! Fortunately for me, I have global entry which allows me to enter in a separate area. At this point, I’m not sure if passengers had to show the negative Covid test paper an additional time. I did not have to show it in my global entry lane. I was the first one through customs and immigration and the first one to our luggage carousel (I even made it there before the luggage). I checked my social media while I waited for luggage… But was very careful not to lift my phone as you CAN NOT film in this area of the airport!!
And… NO ONE wants any problems with Newark International or the TSA! Also… I would never do anything that jeopardizes the security of our country or my Global Entry Status!
When I left the airport… it was cold here.
And there were no palm trees. Sigh…
I came home and started planning my next trip! (It’s true, I really did)
Strong Beauty Boss
P. S. See travel pics on my IG page!! @estrongbeauty
Elizabeth Strong is a highly sought-after Master Hairstylist, fashion influencer, and speaker. Her credits include The Runways NYFW for Project Runway winner season 17, Sebastian Grey; International Fashion and Arts Week, Unique Blend Models Fashion Week, and being the recipient of The Lehigh Valley Golden Latin Award for Salon of the year (2018). Elizabeth is very passionate about people, especially women, finding their confidence, and developing a love for themselves and who God created them to be! Some of Elizabeth’s favorite authors are Lisa Bevere, Brené Brown, & Lysa Terkeurst.