The Dominican Republic: Virgin Mudslides and Montezuma’s Revenge: Part 1

Time for another trip review! Today we’re going to talk about our jaunt over to the Dominican Republic, what went wrong, what went right, and how to do it better next time.

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The idea for the trip started like many of my others. There I was, innocently scrolling through my Facebook feed, looking for videos of baby kittens when- what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a travel pirates post with the deal of the year!

So of course I had to get it. What was it, you ask? Oh, no big deal, just a four night stay at an all-inclusive resort for $88. No, not per person. Just $88. Who wouldn’t buy that?

David always knows when I’m booking travel because I’ll always call him up all innocently, like:

“Hey David, what’s your passport number?”
“Why?”
“Oh, you know, just…wondering.”

For some reason he doesn’t believe me. Anyway, I booked the hotel and then set about looking for ways to get to down to the Dominican Republic for free. I mean, I didn’t want to spoil my $88 vacation rate by purchasing airfare.

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It turns out that flights down to the Dominican Republic cost an arm and a leg, but luckily, I had some reward redemption tricks up my sleeve to keep costs low (free).

Since the vacation started right after Thanksgiving, David and I were going to be up in D.C., so rather than flying all the way back to Augusta, we stopped off in Atlanta for the night before hopping rewards flights down to Miami and then across to the DR.

Atlanta happens to be one of those cities where even the expensive things are cheap in comparison to the rest of the country. This is evidenced by the fact that staying in even the nicest hotels, such as the Ritz-Carlton, will only set you back $150/night.

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Photo of the year award right here

Now, another perk that the American Express Business Platinum (and regular platinum) have is something called the ‘Fine Hotels and Resorts’ program, where you book through Amex’s travel portal and receive extra goodies, such as 12pm check in, 4pm check out, room upgrades, free breakfast and a $100 credit for food and beverage (or a spa, if your hotel has one.) The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta qualifies for this program, so I went ahead and booked through American Express’ portal in order to get those awesome benefits. Since our flight was super early the next morning, I opted to have room service delivered to the room for our breakfast. The free breakfast credit covered up to $60 worth of food.

Those savvy readers here will see that, very quickly, my $150/night hotel was actually costing me negative money to stay. I got the room upgrade, checked in at 10am, and spent a wonderful evening with David eating steak at their super fancy restaurant. All told, it cost me -$10 plus whatever you value all the upgrades and stuff at. (Since they gave me $160 worth of free food and drinks). Not a bad start to the week!

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Our 5am spread

I then spent 15k Delta miles each for David and I to fly round-trip to Miami. After taxes, our flight cost was $22. (We used miles earned from the American Express Delta Platinum card, whose sign up bonus is currently 50,000 miles). When looking to book those flights at cash value, the cost was around $500/person.

We rose early the next morning, caught our flight, and landed in Miami with several hours to spare. We used those extra hours to head to the American Express Centurion Lounge (more on that later) for free food, drinks, and massages. After that, we boarded our flights to Puerto Plata, using reward redemptions from British Airways (earned using Chase’s British Airways Visa card, whose sign up bonus is currently 50,000 points). In total, it cost us 15k points each and $200 for taxes and fees. The cash value of these flights was around $700/person.

So! After an early flight and many hours in the airport, we finally arrived to our hotel. It seemed fairly nice from the offset, not super extravagant, but I figured for $88 there wasn’t anything that could be too awful.

Foreshadowing.

-Carissa the Ridiculously Tanned in Winter

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