Searching for Culture at a Five-Star All-Inclusive Resort

by Laurie Gilberg Vander Velde


“I want to take my kids on a trip. We have to have ocean view rooms; it has to be all-inclusive; and it has to be a non-stop flight.”  This was what my Mom wanted for her upcoming 90th birthday celebration which would be in the dead of winter. I’m not a person who does cruises or beach vacations. I like to explore, meet people, visit museums and cultural sites. But how could I refuse my Mom’s wishes, much less turn down an all-expenses-paid trip to a tropical island!

The irony of the whole plan was that my Mom is no beach bunny. “I really don’t like sand,” she says. She also shuns the sun, the result of 48 years of nagging from my dear father. But she’d lived in Florida and had spent time on the Jersey shore where she’d passed many an hour gazing at the waves and soaking up the ocean breezes. She was determined to see the ocean again.

Sunrise in Punta Cana. 

When my Mom, her four children and our spouses all boarded the charter flight to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, I hailed it as a minor miracle. Mom had managed to get all of us, now in our 50’s and 60’s, to drop everything and take off together for a full week. Together - - this was more family togetherness than we kids had had since we were twelve years old. 

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