Three gen­er­a­tion Travel

A huge wa­ter park and a world-class beach

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - DESTINATIONS - BY JOHN AND SANDRA NOWLAN John and Sandra Nowlan are travel and food writ­ers based in Hal­i­fax.

The ex­cite­ment grows as we ap­proach Punta Cana. We’re about to spend five days at the Caribbean’s big­gest on­site wa­ter park and our plane is de­scend­ing over kilo­me­tres of pris­tine white sand and turquoise wa­ters at the far east­ern end of the Do­mini­can Repub­lic. We’re with our Fred­er­ic­ton daugh­ter, Laura, her hus­band, Dan, and our three grand­daugh­ters aged 7, 9 and 11. We’re as ex­cited as the kids since we also love wa­ter parks and the chance to spend qual­ity time with our daugh­ter, sonin-law and grand­chil­dren.

As we travel more we’re find­ing that three-gen­er­a­tion fam­i­lies are be­com­ing quite com­mon. We of­ten see happy grand­par­ents ac­com­pa­ny­ing their chil­dren and grand­chil­dren on cruises and at all-in­clu­sive re­sorts. It’s a won­der­ful trend.

Our home this time was Mem­o­ries Splash Re­sort, a Canadian-owned, 525-room, all-in­clu­sive prop­erty a halfhour ride from the busy Punta Cana air­port. The spa­cious and well-groomed trop­i­cal re­sort has five pools (in­clud­ing ac­tive, mu­sic-filled ones and, thank­fully, a cou­ple of large, quiet ones), an ex­ten­sive buf­fet, three a la carte restau­rants and, most im­por­tant to kids, end­less ice cream.

We had our own clean, com­fort­able room (al­though the slip­pers pro­vided were for tiny peo­ple) with a bal­cony fac­ing palm trees and the quiet pool while Laura, Dan and the chil­dren had two ad­join­ing rooms just one floor be­low. It was an ideal ar­range­ment.

The early morn­ing wake up and long flights were for­got­ten as soon as we ar­rived at the re­sort and the wa­ter park was spot­ted. With seven mon­ster slides, a wave pool and sev­eral smaller slides for the younger ones, the Mem­o­ries Splash wa­ter park was truly im­pres­sive. Hours are re­stricted (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and the life­guards are very firm in en­forc­ing safety rules. But fun was the name of the game and our fam­ily im­me­di­ately chose favourite slides. There’s a high, four-lane one that’s great fun to­gether and an even higher, nar­row one called Kamikaze that plum­mets al­most straight down.

One funny slide is called Space Bowl (the kids pre­ferred to call it Toi­let Bowl!) where, at the end, you spin around in a big tank be­fore be­ing dumped into a pool of wa­ter. A cou­ple of slides use in­flat­able rafts in­clud­ing The Black Hole where the grand­chil­dren dared John to join them. Sit­ting in tan­dem with 11-yearold Eva on the raft, the ride has many sharp turns and takes place to­tally in the dark be­fore the tun­nel ends and the raft splashes loudly into a pool. The chil­dren thought their grand­fa­ther was very brave.

Dur­ing our five days at Mem­o­ries Splash, the wa­ter park was pri­or­ity No. 1. But our fam­ily also loves the beach and Mem­o­ries guests have free ac­cess to its sis­ter prop­erty, the ad­ja­cent Roy­al­ton Punta Cana. This slightly more up­scale 485-room re­sort sits di­rectly on 10-kilo­me­tre long Bavaro Beach, one of the most glo­ri­ous stretches of sand in the Caribbean. It’s an easy walk from Mem­o­ries but there’s also a trol­ley that shut­tles be­tween re­sorts ev­ery few min­utes. On the beach there are plenty of beach loungers, servers come by reg­u­larly of­fer­ing drinks and, best of all, the free wi-fi (avail­able all over both re­sorts) works very well on the beach.

With more than 100 re­sorts and ho­tels in the Punta Cana area, the man­age­ment of Mem­o­ries and Roy­al­ton have fo­cused on pro­vid­ing in­no­va­tion along with all-in­clu­sive lux­ury and value. We were par­tic­u­larly im­pressed with its tech­nol­ogy lead­er­ship. In ad­di­tion to the free wi-fi, phone calls to Canada and the U.S. (plus some Euro­pean coun­tries) are com­ple­men­tary and there’s Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity in all rooms. Even the room keys re­flect Canadian tech­nol­ogy. In­stead of a card or metal key, the fash­ion­able wrist bands that ev­ery­one wears in­clude a chip that ac­ti­vates the door lock. Never again do you mis­place your room key! We sus­pect other re­sorts will soon copy this great idea.

Food is al­ways im­por­tant at an all-in­clu­sive re­sort and we took ad­van­tage of the great va­ri­ety avail­able at both Mem­o­ries and Roy­al­ton.

The beef and chicken were al­ways ex­cel­lent and the buf­fet usu­ally had plenty of shrimp, crab and Caribbean lob­ster. We were hop­ing there’d be more fresh, lo­cally caught fish (like snap­per and grouper) but man­age­ment ad­mit­ted that it’s dif­fi­cult to get a steady sup­ply of lo­cal seafood with the qual­ity and safety they de­mand. But tasty lo­cal fruit and fresh juices were al­ways avail­able. On our last night, be­fore an ex­cel­lent show in the large theatre (the Cir­cus acts were awe­some), we ate at the Hunter Steak­house at Roy­al­ton (named for the Canadian own­ers) and it be­came our favourite restau­rant.

In the sum­mer a lot of Euro­peans and South Amer­i­cans visit the Do­mini­can Repub­lic (prices are cheaper than in the win­ter) but we were sur­prised by the num­ber of Cana­di­ans and Amer­i­cans we met. The man­ager at Roy­al­ton told us that re­sorts are a great way to bring fam­i­lies to­gether be­cause there’s al­ways so much to do for all age groups.

As Eva, our old­est grand­daugh­ter ob­served, “I give thumbs up to trav­el­ling with grand­par­ents. More fam­ily means more fun.”

One set of grand­par­ents told us they travel ev­ery year with their daugh­ter and grand­son, now 11.

The se­cret for suc­cess? “Go with the flow. Do what the grand­chil­dren want…and be flex­i­ble. It’s a blast!”


Bavaro in the Do­mini­van Repub­lic. One of the world’s great beaches.


Lots of great slides at the Mem­o­ries Splash Wa­ter Park.


The Black Hole and multi-track slides.


The grand­par­ents’ bal­cony view — the quiet pool.

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