Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
Emily: One of my best friends lives in Arlington, Virginia, so I don’t see her very often. We met in college and have been friends ever since. The first (and last) time we took a vacation together was to Barcelona, Spain in 2007.
Emily’s Birthday Trip to the Dominican Republic Index:
- Trip to the Dominican Republic – Introduction and Planning
- Santo Domingo Hotel – Sofitel Nicolas de Ovando
- Activities in Santo Domingo – Zona Colonial and Latin Dancing
- Activities in Santo Domingo – Casa de Orientación y Desarrollo Real (CODR)
- Eating in Santo Domingo
- Bayahibe – Isla Saona and Hotel Bayahibe
- Bavaro Hotel – Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe
- Activities in and Around Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe
- Eating in and Around Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe
- Delta Flight back from Punta Cana
- Conclusion and Blog Giveaway
I thought it would be super fun to celebrate my 30th birthday with her in the Dominican Republic. So we planed a trip to 3 locations, including Santo Domingo, Bayahibe, and Bavaro (near Punta Cana) over the course of one week.
Arriving In Santo Domingo
Kristen and I got our tourist cards very quickly once we arrived to the Santo Domingo Airport. We paid for them using automated machines, and then the attendant stamped our passport.
The tourist card cost $10.
Outside the airport, we used the ATMs to get some cash. It was very easy and there were 4 to 5 ATM machines.
I booked a cab online (less than 24 hours before our arrival) through a website called Dominican Airport Transfers. It was a flat rate of $40. The guidebook said to pay between $24 to $40 for a ride to the city from the airport, but this was my first time to Santo Domingo and I wanted to avoid the long lines (but there were none!) and the possibility of getting ripped off.
Sofitel Nicolas de Ovando
I decided to splurge a bit since it was my birthday and booked a room at one of the nicer hotels in the city – the Hotel Nicolas de Ovando (a Sofitel hotel). I paid ~$130 a night including tax for a Contemporary Room and booked it via Hotels.com to get it for the lowest price.
The hotel was gorgeous! It was also centrally located in the “tourist” part of town called Zona Colonial. This is where the majority of the historical sites are located.
The hotel is a World Heritage Site by Unesco, and the original home of the town’s founder, Governor Nicolas de Ovando.
The architecture was so pretty.
The hotel was once the governor’s mansion and dates back to the 1500s. During our walk around the hotel, we saw some kids practicing skateboarding and le parkour.
The hotel staff were very nice when we arrived and served us cold towels and fresh mixed fruit juice. I booked a Colonial room and emailed them about my allergy and a possible upgrade for my birthday, but never heard a response.
I made sure to tell the employee that it was my birthday and how excited we were for our first time in Dominican Republic, but we remained in our basic room.
But it was a nice room with a canopy bed!
Kristen: Original walls were stuccoed over while arches reminiscent of castles greet you with an old world charm.
The Sofitel Nicolas de Ovando is a gorgeous relic of the old city and it is nicely updated for comfort whilst being inside a piece of history.
I truly appreciate the lush accommodations, first class staff, and such details as the wrought iron bed frame with chiffon half canopy.
Emily: The room was very warm and inviting.
It was tastefully decorated in natural tones that went very well with the old world architecture.
It was a tad small but well designed.
There was a small table and chair with lots of easily accessible outlets.
…as well as a stocked minibar. We used it to stock our own (much cheaper) drinks and feed that we got at the supermarket down the street!
The view outside the windows faces the Calle de Las Damas, the first paved street in the new world.
Up the stairs was a small bathroom.
There was a sink with lots of counter space.
and a fresh flower to accent the space.
We also received a selection of amenities each day.
And complimentary bottled water every day of our stay.
There was a separate room with the toilet and walk in shower.
Across from the sink, there was lots of storage.
There was a safe and two sets of slippers.
Here’s a short video highlighting the room.
The rest of the hotel was gorgeous! I loved the old world style.
Some of the doors were so cute!
The décor fit in perfectly with the hotel.
It was nice to walk through the green pathways!
It was so beautiful and green!
There was also a small swimming pool.
Kristen and I loved the hotel because of its historical appeal, excellent location, and nice decor. Stay tuned for more posts were we review the many things to do in Santo Domingo!