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Aruba OR Punta Cana?

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I would like to book a vacation for myself and my 2 sons ages 5 & 14. I was looking into either Aruba Holiday Inn AI or Dominica Republic Punta Cana AI somewhere. I would like nice beaches, kids activities and restaurants, etc...KID friendly!! Any help is greatly appreciated! Thanks!!

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    Have been to both places. In Punta Cana we stayed at the Palladium, All Inclusive and loved it. The beaches were the best!!! Was in Aruba years and years ago. I do remember the beach was nice. My suggestion and read reviews.

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    I have only been to Aruba. Aruba is a nice destination and the beaches are nice. There are lots of watersports available right in front of the hotels. The drinking water is safe and straight from the tap. Definitely a plus when you are traveling with kids.
    We stayed next door at the Marriott and walked around the Holiday Inn. The Holiday Inn has a very nice lobby and general areas. I was impressed by it because I have never seen a Holiday Inn look so nice. I understand the rooms are very standard Holiday Inn, but I don't think they are outdated or anything.
    I know that Punta Cana is cheap and has nice beaches. But, you will be stuck at the hotel resort grounds there. Aruba, you can travel freely around the island. It is a safe destination and like I said before, the water is clean to drink.
    We enjoyed our Aruba vacation as a family desintation.

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    We have been to Aruba and the Dominican though not Punta Cana specifically.

    We became very sick in the Dominican. We didn't really like the resort we were on and found the staff to be rude. Beyond the actual resort there is little to see and do.

    We tood our kids to Aruba twice and loved it. It is definitely more Americanized. I was pleased that they have a very highly rated hopital that compares to North American standards (our son in Peanut Allergic). We were pleased with the staff at the resort, the ammenities close by, the beaches and the fact that we could rent a car and sight see.

    I guess it would depend on what you are looking for. If you can nab a good deal to Aruba (usually the higher priced destination of the two) I recommend it for the ages of your kids. Dominican always has deals and is considered less desirable compared to the Southern Carribean. You can always go to DR but I'll never regret going to Aruba on a great deal of the day we managed to pick up.

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    Just to clarify something, the Holiday Inn Sunspree isn't really an all-inclusive resort, though the resort may offer an "all-inclusive" plan. So if you choose to go to Aruba, make sure you are being quoted the rate you want. It's usually easier to buy one of these AI plans if you book through a travel agency. At true all-inclusive resorts, no one pays extra for meals or drinks, which are available in most cases 24 hours a day, but at regular resorts that sell meal and activity plans, many guests still get only their room and eat off-premises, so the included meals may be resitricted a bit.

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    When do you plan on going? We just returned from the HI in Aruba and we enjoyed it. Just be aware that the hotel is under renovations. The Aruba Tower room renovations are complete, the Bonair Tower is closed and under renovations and the Curacao Tower needs refurbishment. If you pick the HI just make sure you get a room in the Aruba Tower. Also, the beach bar is closed and the grill resturant is closed. The only two dining options will be the buffet and the Italian resturant, which requires reservations and men must wear long pants/closed toe shoes.

    We did the AI plan and it was ok for unlimited alcohol beverages and the breakfast buffet. We got a very good deal on the AI option. We only paid $420 total for the both of us for the entire week for the AI option. Anymore than that and I wouldn't think it was too much of a good deal. We ate at the buffet twice for dinner and the grill twice for lunch. We ate off property also.

    Aruba is a safe Island with plenty of things to see and do off property. We thought the Downtwon shopping area was very nice and clean. The beach area in front of the HI was also very nice.

    I've been to the DR many, many years ago on a cruise ship and didn't care for it enough to return. Read reviews on Trip Advisor and you get plenty of comments about stomach problems from the food/water and not being able to leave the resort. However, many of the resorts are huge AI properites with lots of dining options and activities to keep the guests busy. It depends on what type of vacation your looking for.

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    I have been to both Punta Cana and also stayed at the Holiday Inn Aruba and I personally would pick Punta Cana.

    Aruba is a very small island and it is basically a flat, desert (think Arizona) windy island that has high rise hotels and many American resturants and fast food chains, while Punta Cana is the total opposite and is lush and tropical and not at all Americanized.

    We found that Aruba is over hyped and very Americanized and we felt like we were on a beach in the U.S. and NOT on a beach in the Caribbean.

    Our vacation at the HI was a few years ago, but their AI plan was the worst we have ever experienced in the Caribbean and Mexico. The food was medicore at best and there was no fresh fruit in the drinks, because they have to import fruit in Aruba as it is a windy desert island. The servers at the resort would ignore the all inclusive guests unless they tipped TO GET served. There were surcharges on some food and drink items and nothing much was included in the all inclusive in the way of sports equipment, activities or entertainment like other all inclusives and we still had to sign chits for drinks and food even though we were on the AI plan. We found the beach in front of the Holiday Inn littered with lots of cigarette butts and other litter and the water clarity terrible, more so than any other beach we have been on in the Caribbean. At the time we were at the HI, there was basically no kid programs and not much for children to do in the evening as gambling is the main entertainment in Aruba and kids are not allowed into the Casino. In general we found the Arubans not as friendly as other islands we have been to.

    Punta Cana is simply beautiful, but there is not much to do off the resort, but it is very tropical and the beach is one of the best I have ever seen. There was much more offered at our AI resort (RIU Bambu)for kids than at the HI resort in Aruba. You do have to be careful with the tap water and you should brush your teeth and drink the bottled water they provide. The one thing we liked about Aruba was the tap water was very good and is safe to drink (though it is warm) from the tap.

    We found the Aruban sun stronger than any other Caribbean destination because it is so close to the Equator, so if you choose Aruba make sure you take along a lot of strong sunscreen (especially for the kids) and coat up often. Take along snug fitting sun hats because the constant wind in Aruba will blow them off if they are not snug fitting.

    We found we got so much more for our money in Punta Cana than we did in Aruba. In our personal opinion, we would go back Punta Cana again, but I would only go back to Aruba if we won a trip.

    In our opinion, if you want to feel you have been to the Caribbean pick Punta Cana, but if you want to feel you have stayed in the U.S. pick Aruba.

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