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Chilling in the Dominican Republic

A Beach Right out of the Movies

Not having been to a Caribbean beach in years, I thought of scenes from various films shot on tropical beaches: Dudley Moore’s character in “10,” Ben Stiller’s in “Along Came Polly.” The water on Juanillo Beach shimmered in constant sunlight, and you could walk out several hundred yards to gentle breakers. Beyond that, noisy tourists splashed and snorkeled off catamarans that went out every morning and afternoon fully loaded.

The ever-present waiters and waitresses, the exotic drinks, the glamorous swimsuits on unglamorous bodies — this beach had it all. Our routine was to grab a spot in the morning beneath a thatched umbrella and keep it for most of the day. We got to know our favorite server right away. Her name was Rosanna, and she was good. Over the course of the week, she talked us into frozen margaritas, banana mamas, bloody marys and a few Presidente beers. We’d tip her once at the end of the day, and we never shorted her.

Each day, the resort offered fresh hors d’oeuvres like fruit on skewers, custom drinks like fresh sangria in copper cups and a buffet lunch like seafood paella with salad. During our visit, crews worked constantly with heavy machinery to clear seaweed that had been stirred up by the hurricanes the month before. To me, that seemed a minor inconvenience when I considered the massive damage that occurred in neighboring Puerto Rico.

One tip for the beach:  Don’t come without a book.  I noticed more reading on the beach than at the pools, but there were a lot of books in Punta Cana. I finished my copy of “The Accidental Life,” an autobiography by longtime magazine editor Terry McDonell, who dishes on the egos and idiosyncrasies of iconic writers like Hunter S. Thompson, George Plimpton and James Salter, among others.

Pools to Rival the Beach

Often, we’d leave the beach in the afternoon for the resort pools. There were two: a smaller, more intimate one for preferred members — a status we enjoyed by way of our friends’ memberships — and a huge pool for all guests that included several sections, recreational activities, a swim-up bar and an infinity pool. That’s where we hung out.

Kim did morning water aerobics several times, and in the afternoons, there was always a supervised water basketball or volleyball game going on. The infinity pool was never crowded, and its backdrop was the Caribbean, so we often ended our days there.

Rooms With a View

Our friends had adjoining accommodations with walk-out patios adjacent to the private pool and Rosewater Bar. Kim and I are early risers, and most mornings, we spotted Jay on his patio with coffee and something to read. These ground-level rooms included secluded outdoor showers about which both couples raved. Our second-floor room had an ocean view with a balcony, but the balcony was overwhelmed by a Jacuzzi that we never used. A simple balcony with chairs from which to enjoy the ocean would have been much more useful to us.