7 Feb 2020

Vacation - Resort Review

Welcome back for the last of my vacation posts! Now that all the outfit posts are out of the way, I thought I'd do a bit of a resort review. Like I said before, this trip was far from our first resort experience. I guess we'd be considered seasoned travelers at this point...

At the end of January, we spent a week in the beautiful TRS Cap Cana resort in the Dominican Republic. Our travel agent suggested this spot and, as usual, nailed it! She'll usually send us a few different options and we always end up with one of them. We've been dealing with her for a decade, so she knows us well and knows what we like. We usually prefer small, adults-only resorts with à la carte restaurants for every meal. That's our vacation trifecta of sorts. TRS Cap Cana ticked all of these boxes and then some!

We've been to the DR for a few trips now and always enjoy it. Being creatures of habit, it's comforting going somewhere somewhat familiar. We tend to flip flop between Mexico and the Dominican Republic. They are pretty even in terms of bang for your buck, so that's become our norm. We also like to stay near the airport. The less time our transfer from the airport to the resort, the less motion sickness I get. So yeah, that sort of dictates our radius of potential resorts. Punta Cana is great for that and has many resort options close to the airport. This one was about a 15 to 20 minute ride. Very acceptable. Cap Cana is home to a beautiful marina and the location of the resort, right at the mouth of the canal, was very appealing to us. My husband loves boats and fishing, so he was all for it! We've never been to a resort in this type of setting, but seeing the boat traffic added a certain cachet to the place. It was small, quiet and beautifully located. Plus, we had tremendous weather the entire week! The clouds always seemed to circle the area without ever covering it. It's a little oasis!

We are more pool people, so don't choose our resorts based on the beach. The beach is very small here, but is very clean and close-by. There were plenty of chairs and cabanas on the beach and the view was spectacular. Being right by the marina meant a lot of boat traffic, but it's something to look at.

As for the pool, I think there was only one, but it had many different nooks to it. Basically, there was a lot of space for people to sit around it. There were plenty of chairs and cabanas available and the setting was so peaceful. It wasn't too crammed. There is a swim-up bar in the pool that was shaded because it was located underneath the main walkway.

There are plenty of swim-up suites on the main floor of every building, which is an option. These pools are more private and have their own charm. 

Finally, there was an outdoor pool at the spa. It was accessible to all resort guests, but was by far the quietest of the pools. We spent the most part of our last couple days there as we had the pool to ourselves! It was also deeper than the other pools, so great for tall people!

Although the swim-up suites are appealing, we opted for the ocean-view suite. We arrived late at night, so just ordered room service in our room and settled in on the first day. Unfortunately, we were woken up many times throughout the night by a very noisy air-conditioning unit. It sort of revved every time it turned on. Not pleasant. We brought it up the next day and they sent a maintenance guy to check it out. The following night, it did it again... We brought it up at the front desk and agreed the only solution was to change rooms. We looked at possible upgrading, but there wasn't much available. Therefore, we settled on the same type of room, but with two double beds instead of a king. We chose a good night's sleep in a smaller bed over a bad night in a bigger bed. Compromises! 

Both rooms were gorgeous, clean and spacious with great views. I have to say the thing I loved most about the rooms was that they had portable steamers! It might sound like a small thing, but being able to steam our clothing was a game-changer! My husband is now totally convinced we need a travel steamer. Other than the steamer, the rooms all had wireless Bose speakers and Nespresso machines. Sometimes, it's the small things that make the biggest difference. I find these are the types of perks that we find in the smaller resorts (only 115 rooms); there's just more attention to detail. 

Being the foodies that we are (mostly me), food is a big deal to us. Let me tell you, this resort delivered! Being a small resort, there were only a few restaurants. This was okay, because they were great! Little selection is only troubling if the food options are sub-par. This was not the case at TRS Cap Cana! There was only one breakfast option Capricho, but you could chose to eat à la carte or serve yourself at the buffet. They even had musicians playing jazz music on a few of the mornings. That was a nice touch! 

There were a couple options for lunch, both near the pool/beach area. There was the beach-side grill that served up different bites everyday if you wanted a more low-key option. For the sit-down restaurant, it was either Capricho or Helios (they switched it up every day). Our preferred option was the restaurant and we always sat on the patio portion. It offered the best view of the marina and boat traffic while being comfortably breezy. 

Finally, there were three dinner options: the first being Izakaya, the Japanese restaurant. While I try to stay away from sushi at resorts, this resort had by far the best sushi I've ever had! They have a world-class sushi chef who prepares the freshest and most delicious fares! I highly recommend sitting at the sushi bar and having him prepared you exclusive dishes. We had the place to ourselves on our last night and Chef Rodrigo gave us the experience of a lifetime! I had octopus sashimi for the first time and actually emjoyed it!

The second restaurant was the steakhouse, El Gaucho. This is the only restaurant for which a reservation is required, but that was never an issue. We went here for my birthday dinner with a couple of friends we met that day and pretty much ordered one of everything on the menu! It was all delicious! The standout dishes for me were the empenadas, the ribye steak and the soufflé potatoes. The staff also surprised us with a birthday cake and lots of signing! We closed the place down that night and had a fabulous time!

The last dinner option was the beach restaurant that alternated between the Italian (Tentazione) and the Mediterranean (Helios) restaurants. Unfortunately, we didn't time things right to go to the Italian, which was a bit of a bummer. However, we did try the Mediterranean. It was a perfectly respectable meal, but was not the stand-out to us. 

Ultimately, we ate very well the entire week! Our superstar waiter, Juan Luis was exceptional! He treated us like royalty!

One of the best things about this particular resort was the staff. I've never seen such a hands-on, dynamic, courteous and attentive staff. From the front desk, to the waiting staff, the cleaning staff, the bar staff and the personal butlers; every person was as pleasant as the next. 

Enrique kept the energy up and had everyone taking part in the pool-side activities. He was energetic and cheerful but never pushy. You knew he was nearby anytime you heard his catch-phrase "Ay-ay-ay!" It always put a smile on my face!

Our personal butler Bayron was exceptional! He hooked us up with our dinner reservations, organized my birthday surprise, found my husband a deep-sea fishing expedition and then some. He had a knack for showing up exactly when we needed something, no matter where we were on the resort. Seriously stealthy skills. 

Finally turning my attention to the entertainment and activities offered at the resort. As typical in most resorts, various shows were offered every evening. There was live music, karaoke and a weekly beach party. The standouts for us were the magic show and the CHIC Cabaret. (More on that last one later.) 

There were also daily activities such as aqua fit, dance lessons, beach volley ball and Spanish lessons. There even we sushi-making workshops, coffee-making workshops, drink-making workshops and I believe towel-folding workshops, which was a new concept for us and quite a nice addition. My husband got to go behind the sushi bar and try his hand at conceptualizing and rolling his own creation! It was delicious!

As much fun as these daily offerings were, the highlight of our trip was most definitely the night out at the CHIC Cabaret! What a night that was! We were whisked off to TRS's sister resort in Punta Cana for a dinner cabaret show. I was not expecting such a high calibre performance. The singers and dancers were outstanding! I'm a huge Broadway fan and this show did not disappoint. I was so busy singing along and taking in the show that I had a hard time finishing my plate before the next course was served. Anybody who knows me knows this is highly unusual! The energy in the room was absolutely enthralling! We had awesome seats front and centre and got to see the performance close-up. Oh, I almost forgot the moment that rendered me speechless. During a particularly Magic-Mike-like number, one of the dancers came up to our table, grabbed my water glass and proceeded to drink it in a very risqué manner. I had my phone out taking pictures practically during the entire show, but I was not prepared for this moment and totally missed it. I don't know if it was the margaritas, but I was having the time of my life and would go back in a heartbeat! They even had some of us get up on stage and dance during the closing number. I could not have sprung up form my seat more quickly. I cannot recommend the experience enough. If you ever get the chance: go! You won't regret it!

All in all, it was a fantastic trip. We relaxed, made lots of new friends, got our fill of sunshine and salt-water, ate all the delicious food and made plenty of new memories. This is for sure in the top two resorts we've been to and we definitely want to try more TRS locations!

Look 1
Swimsuit: American Eagle (similar) | Cover-up: Romwe (similar) | Hat: La Redoute (similar) | Earrings: J. Crew Factory (similar)

Look 2
Dress: Old Navy (similar) | Earrings: H&M (similar) | Headband: Zara (similar) | Purse: Gap (similar) | Espadrilles: Le Château (similar)

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