Tropical Beach Lovers Wedding, Puntacana on Dominican Republic has it all!

Standing knee deep in warm undulating turquoise ocean within minutes of getting off the plane from Atlanta. I took a moment to simply take it in. The sensual quality of wind, sun and miles of gentle waves along the shore of this small part of Puntacana, Dominican Republic immediately infuse your soul with peace and send you right into “island time”.

I had come here to consider this site for a wedding weekend for at least 100 guests, maybe more, followed by a week long honeymoon for the bride and groom. With so many things to consider, I sat by the beach and made a list of parts required for the itinerary of such an event, check boxes and all. In order to be sure that there was everything we would need in the area, I had additional inspiration from the handsome bartender at the Tiki Bar on the beach. Doing this research was clearly going to be tough duty….

With hundreds of people invited, one of the elements of this destination wedding is convenient travel for family and friends. Since there are frequent flights from Atlanta, it should be easy for anyone wanting to fly over to the party. With the resort’s assisted arrival and departure program, it took me under 10 minutes from landing to be in the private shuttle for a 5 minute drive to my room at the Westin Beach Resort of Puntacana.

Lodging required for so many guests could easily be accommodated by where I was staying. Guests could each have rooms in The Westin with each spacious room offering a balcony looking over two swimming pools, hot tub, tall palms swaying in the breezes and paths wandering to the beach. The Westin also has a large formal dining restaurant called Anani, a Tiki Bar by the pool, and a charming bar and restaurant on the sand. Along with a Lobby Bar, there is a Cigar Bar by the pool. All of this nestled against a wide white beach that stretches  as far as you can see in either direction with gentle waves providing background music day and night.

The plan was for the groomsmen and bridesmaids to be together. This seemed to be perfectly suited a short distance up the beach to the boutique hotel Tortuga Bay. Modern rooms recently updated stretched along the beach where rooms were hanging over the sand and sea. Additionally, there is a designated area at Tortuga Bay where any guest of Puntacana who checks out in the morning but has a flight home later in the afternoon can relax after checking luggage, and spend the day enjoying the beach, pool and restaurant until departure time.

The bride’s family and the groom’s family each requested a rental house large enough to host siblings and their children, as well as offering a place for gatherings. The bride’s family wanted to host a cocktail party Friday afternoon, catered at this house before the rehearsal dinner. I saw several lovely homes that are part of the Puntacana property for just this purpose.

Friday evening family members and the wedding party would have a rehearsal of the beach side ceremony followed by a dinner under the stars at the Playa Blanca Beach Restaurant. The menu here is fresh and locally caught, and gives the feeling of “going native”. While luscious island inspired courses are served, toes wiggle in the sand as the moon rises over the glistening sea. It is an easy walk down the tiki lighted beach to the Westin after dinner.

The plan also included the groom’s family hosting a catered Saturday morning brunch at their house followed by golf at the La Cana Club featuring a Tom Fiazio designed 18 hole course for as many as liked to play.

Saturday afternoon is to be left for relaxation at the Six Senses Spa, exploring the 50 acre forest reserve called Puntacana Ecological Foundation which includes swimming in fresh water lagoons that leave your skin tingling with freshness, or riding horses on the beach before the wedding scheduled to begin at 6:00PM.

This would be held at The Grill Restaurant, an ocean breeze infused palm covered patio next to the white beach, with a world famous chef who prides himself on his signature taste and texture combinations. The Grill is adjacent to an elegant spacious indoor spaces of tall white beach side galleries.

Sunday morning, the Westin hosts a huge brunch for its guests. It was undecided if there would also be a brunch hosted for the wedding party, but there were many options for locations and catering styles.

As with any plan, there need to be choices. There is a sweet small catholic church in Puntacana Village if that is the bride’s preference. Each of the restaurants has options for indoor or outdoor dining and dancing. Puntacana has wedding planners who will happily help the families design the wedding that dreams are made of, and locate flowers, delicacies but they are very willing to work with a wedding planner from offsite.

There are so many choices, that if you are interested in planning your own destination wedding, I would recommend visiting this site and then talking to one of the wedding planners who have experience and can make suggestions to make your dreams come true! Puntacana beach wedding ideas.

To select from the many lodging options that Puntacana has to offer:Different lodging options for your wedding party.


Travel Troubles Be Gone – and just in time for Christmas!

I travel a lot. Because of my job, I am always going to beautiful places so the pull of getting there is always strong. Still, there has never been a single trip in the last two decades where you wouldn’t find me stomping around the house the day before departure muttering “… it’s just not worth it….” caused by the ritual of house sitters for the dog, bills paid that will be due, and letting friends know.  For me the real issue is PACKING! After all these years I still put it off to the very last minute as packing is the precursor for all the coming hassles of being enroute.

Well there must be hope for us all because after years of doing things one way, I made a change. As I was dreading the approaching travel day it suddenly came home that perhaps it could be easier. Someone must have been working on tools to make getting through airports easier and I had the technology to find it! The search turned out to be fascinating, the products turned out to be comforting, the result rewarding. After  long hours of traveling to airports, rushing between planes, and sitting in old seats the new gear had worked. I got off the plane with a comfortable body and relaxed nerves happily looking forward to my first cocktail of fresh fruit and local rum.

This in only the check in so far!

I am practiced at selecting clothes and laying them out on the bed so that I can be sure I have the mix and match collection of what I need for the next trip. Also, the nature of where and when I travel, there can be an 80 degree temperature differential between where I get on, and where I get off. Airport climate will be consistent, but other than that it is a matter of constantly being ready to change clothes.  Then the questions start. Will it all fit into the luggage? What part goes into the checked bag and which goes into the carry on. Will I get hit for overweight fees?  And the biggest one; how can I arrange it so that I can move it all at once by myself.

Next morning, gear into the car, car to the airport, luggage from the parking lot to the terminal, then the line to check in. Next, the dread of checking in with luggage, living in fear of small overhead or underseat compartments that won’t hold the carryon . Do I have some way to deal with it if I get one of those awful 30 year old seats? Must leave room to tote a reasonable lunch and a change of clothes. The plane can be cold or hot in flight and who knows where those airplane blankets have been?

Welcome to a new day! There is a world of tools out there that you can customize for your own comfort and efficiency as you pass the day in airports and planes. A much underutilized tool is a good passport case. I got one with room for my passport, itinerary, ticket, a little cash and one credit card and that is all. It’s flat, fits in a carryon pocket and I can reach all the travel docs I need.

So new check in luggage. First of all, luggage must be light, robust and have good wheels. My war horse of a check on bag weighs 11 pounds, just begging for overweight fees even while empty. Best solution for that turned out to be a huge rolling duffle (Eagle Creek) that weighs roughly 4 lbs, with the added convenience of folding up when it is empty.

I also got several of the mesh cubes for putting clothes in. Not only do they make it easy to keep things sorted going into and out of the luggage for packing but when the baggage guys ruffle around during inspections, your luggage is easy to check and neat when they are finished! The mesh cubes of clothing go in along with a shoe bag and a “jump kit”, your best working toiletry bag. Wonder of wonders, Magellan’s has a large selection of all of these things.

The new carryon luggage is another matter entirely. I need a change of clothes, I even carry sandals. I have a computer, kindle, cell phone and room for my purse and lunch in one bag that I put under my feet so I can reach them. The Vertical Business case worked perfectly for those and can be stacked with m other carryon so I only have one to pull.

The other carryon bag goes over head and is all about comfort in flight. I got a Getaway Wheeled Underseat Tote for that. Packed on top I carry the clear rugged bag of carry on liquids for easy removal at check points. I carry a blanket, an inflatable neck pillow, earphones, a GSeat folding cushion to sit on, as well as my new camera bag.

Doesn’t look like something to steal and has all the right spaces for a full camera set up.

I found that the Urban Hybrid Touring Bag holds all my camera gear perfectly and fits neatly inside the Tote which fit inside every overhead bin I encountered. Happy girl! I carry a small arsenal of wellness gear as it is impossible for millions of people to share space without a few nasty bugs floating about. The air ionizer I got years ago is a tiny device that hangs around your neck and sterilizes the air for 3 cubic feet around your face. I can’t say for sure that it is the reason, but I don’t seem to catch anything during travel.

While I was practicing retail therapy to dissolve the airport travel blues, I also got some clothing. I found two shirts online that really don’t wrinkle.

Weighs nothing, has tons of pockets and the sleeves zip off in the heat. Fabulous!

You can whip one out of the tiny knot it became when you stuffed it into the carryon bag, give it a shake, and good to go. One of them has the added advantage of providing UPF sun protection while breathing so well that you are hardly aware of it.

I also bought something I found called a Voyager Jacket which is the only coat I need. Light weight, lots of pockets in the right places, a passport case pocket, and sleeves that can be removed for climate changes. It is even good looking!

The Heineken Regatta is one of the famous parties in the Lewards, with 3 days of sailing mixed in.

So I left Vermont when it was 4 degrees in the morning and spent the day going through airports finding my way to the island of St. Maartin and the 32nd Annual Heineken Regatta where it was 84 degrees at night. I easily got to check in with all luggage  rolling in harmony. I checked in my new cube organized duffle bag without the dreaded overweight fees. Had all of my travel docs easily accessible in one place without putting my purse at risk.

What a difference this makes!

Breezing through the scanners and onto the plane, I used the seat cushion (amazing difference), blanket and ionizer from overhead and the underseat gear to entertain myself during the  flight.

This little unit ionizes the air for three cubic feet around your face and is tiny to wear!

If you travel by plane, I can highly recommend spending some time getting the right tools for the task together.

I changed mid flight in prep for the new climate and bounced off the plane looking wrinkle free and happily up to the task of searching for the perfect margarita!

Most of the gear that I acquired can be found at Magellan’