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The Dominican Republic's Maxim BungalowsJune 9, 2008 By: Joe Pike
After a few schedule conflicts, we were finally able to accept an invite to Maxim Bungalows, Cofresi Beach, a new luxury resort in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, from Thursday to Sunday and decided it was worth the wait.
We arrived from New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport via American Airlines and touched down around 6:30 p.m. Thursday night. Since the property opened about three months ago, we kept hearing about the resort’s claim to have some of the most personal and unique services offered in the Dominican Republic. We already saw evidence of that the moment we exited our plane at Santiago Airport. Maxim Bungalows’ driver Mario Susaña waited for us as we exited our plane. We were escorted to a VIP lounge where another attendant took our passport and baggage ticket, and told us to sit tight.
That’s right, they actually provide a service where you don’t need to clear customs, immigration or even claim your bag. In fact, while someone was stamping our passport, paying our entry tax of $10 and picking up our over-packed luggage, we were sipping on a Diet Pepsi and reading USA Today.
We later learned that this service is available for all Maxim guests for a fee of $35 or $60 roundtrip. It includes the $10 tax. Only two hotels do this in Puerto Plata and Maxim is the only one who does this at Santiago Airport, which is about an hour and 30 minutes from the property.
Susaña took us to the property where we were introduced to our concierge and to our room, a Maxim Bungalow King. The room was actually two rooms joined together by a connecting door, which we didn’t figure out until we missed our wake-up call for the second time (they were going to room #2036, where we placed the call and not to room #2035, where we slept). The room was enormous. It came with a Jacuzzi, a king-sized bed, two 42-inch plasma TVs and a terrace equipped with lounge chairs and sofas. The minibar was even a surprise as it was unusually cheap in comparison to other resorts we’ve stayed at. For example, a Presidente, the local beer, which is smooth and light like most Caribbean brews, could be purchased for just $3 a pop while a pack of Marlboro Lights (we didn’t indulge in case you’re reading this mom) could be bought for $6.
After a great night of sleep, Susaña picked us up at 10 a.m. on the dot as promised and took us to Cabarete, a beach village about 45 minutes away that is known for its party-like atmosphere as it is sprinkled with restaurants and beaches along the entire strip.
Before we arrived, however, we made Susaña show us a few car washes along the way since we didn’t believe his claim that the car wash in Puerto Plata is a place where locals drink, dine and dance until the sun comes up. We were wrong. It was then we realized if Dominicans could make a party out of washing a vehicle, they can make a party of out anything.
Since we arrived in the midst of a minor storm Thursday night, we were so excited to see the sun blazing Friday afternoon in Cabarete. We weren’t sure if we were going to get sun like this for the rest of the weekend, so we abandoned the sun block (not recommended). When we arrived back at the resort, we took advantage of our scheduled spa treatment. We usually prefer a good, old-fashioned, deep-tissue massage, but considering I was now lobsterman, I opted to go with the more subtle Aromatherapy Massage, which was excellent. A 25-minute session costs $60 and is enough to do the trick. We were covered in scented oils, rubbed down from head to toe and sent on our way to dinner with General Manager Jaime Basauri and Corporate Sales and Marketing Director Joaquín Dueñas at Maxim’s signature restaurant Social.
We ate everything from duck salad to lamb chops to roasted beets and goat cheese but nothing topped the pork tenderloins served with port wine sauce and mixed dried fruits. But if you are still not sure what you want from the menu, the restaurant’s General Manager Sean Mohammed, who actually prepares the recipes, is always more than happy to help.
Over the course of our meal with the executives, we learned some several newsworthy items, most of which we will share with you in our June 23 issue. For now, we can tell you about the property’s anticipated launching of a new website geared toward preferred travel agents. The program is called the Elliott Preferred Travel Agent Program or EPTA. The site, www.epta.com, is expected to launch sometime next week. Here, agents can register to become preferred Maxim agents and received incentives from 15 percent commissions to $100 bonuses for every booking made in the low season. Visit www.maximbungalows.com.