For years, around October, I would wrack my brain trying to think of unique and useful gifts to buy my husband and three teenaged sons. Tired of this commercialism associated with Christmas, a few years ago we asked our sons how they would feel about going south for a week over their Christmas break instead of buying them presents. All three thought it was a great idea…
The first Christmas trip we took was to Cayo Coco in Cuba. We were lucky as the weather was great right up until a cold front came through the day before we were to go home. The hotel was decent and the beach was beautiful, although there was quite a bit of seaweed at one end. The food was plentiful but bland with very little variety. The nightly entertainment was awesome, with a different show every night. Daytime entertainment was great too, with lots of activities for the younger kids to participate in or watch. My sons played soccer, beach volleyball and water polo with the entertainment crew and many new friends they met there.
Next year the boys were asking in the summer where we were going at Christmas, so I started looking for “deals”. Because of the risk of cooler weather in Cuba, we decided to try the Dominican Republic. Our hotel was at one end of a long strip of hotels in Punta Cana. The hotel was nice and clean, and the beach was beautiful with very little seaweed; great for long walks. The food was much better here, with a greater variety and higher quality. Our New Year’s Eve “feast” was spectacular; I have never seen or eaten such a variety of seafood!
This past Christmas we went back to Dominican Republic, but stayed a different resort at the other end of Punta Cana. Although our room was clean and adequate there was an awful “swampy” smell in the rooms, perhaps coming through the ventilation from the lush, tropical landscaping surrounding one end of the hotel. The beach was beautiful, we walked for miles every day. The food was of good quality and plentiful with a wide variety to choose from. The service at the restaurants and bars was excellent and the nightly entertainment amazing. We also went on an excursion this year where we swam with sharks (nurse sharks that don’t bite) and disarmed stingrays, and then snorkelled around a coral reef; a great experience.
Who knows what next year will bring. With our two eldest sons finished school, working full time and getting older with plans of their own, they may not be able or willing to travel with us much longer. These past few vacations together have been invaluable gifts for me, a week free of cleaning and cooking plus quality time with my favorite guys!
Lorieb is the mother of three sons, residing in Kanata, Ontario, Canada. She is the proud owner of GARDENS4U, and spends most of her time designing, planting, and restoring gardens. Her other interests include reading and writing. Please check out her website at www.gardens4u.ca