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Over to our right was a row of little shops and car rental outlets. We arbitrarily selected one and asked to look at some of cars for lease and stated we needed one for week. We negotiated with a friendly agent named Gypsy who spoke superb English and we decided on a 7-year-old white Nissan Sentra with only 40,000 km. We didn't think about it at time, but 40,000 km on 180 km island is a lot of driving, and suggests car had seen its better days. We completed walk-around and we checked tires, which looked satisfactory as long as it didn't rain. The best we could arrange was a fair $190 USD for week. It was a box on wheels with air-conditioning and a radio, with manual windows. We would discover our simple, run-down Nissan with spongy, springy seats, was one of better cars on road.
The deal signed and sealed, we fired it up and off we went, map in hand. I was prepared navigator and Kevin confident driver. We laugh when we think how na´ve we were.
Somehow excitement, and unclear directional traffic signs, led to taking wrong turn out of airport and we drove one pleasant and interesting hour wrong way. At that point we should have known that we might be up for a bit of challenge.
Eventually we did find our hotel, which was actually only 15 minutes from airport. Our first destination was Marien Coral by Hilton. Situated on Puerto Plata "resort strip", Marien Coral by Hilton is last resort property before you reach Puerto Plata proper. As we entered resort, we immediately knew we were in for a special treat. Our first impression was one of awe.
The resort emits a sensation of serenity and decadence. Swaying palm trees line circular driveway bringing your vehicle directly to entrance. Our car door was graciously opened and a friendly smile welcomed us to Marien Coral by Hilton. A chilled glass of fruit punch is in our hand even before our luggage and clubs are unloaded and we are led into an open-air spacious lobby, accented with a marble floor and inviting couches and a panoramic view of common pool beyond. The lobby teases us, offering a glimpse of what's to come.
Hilton Caribbean, a division of Hilton International, and Coral Hotels and Resorts decided to join forces in late 2002. As a result, Hilton Caribbean entered all-inclusive resort market with addition of four resorts in Dominican Republic. Hilton is first major hotel chain to embark in all-inclusive-resort market in Dominican Republic and further plans are underway for Hilton to expand in this market; with addition of new properties in Haiti and Barbados.
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By Lise Lacasse, Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent. Read Jetsetters Magazine at www.jetsettersmagazine.com
Lise Lacasse, Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent. Join the Travel Writers Network in the logo at www.jetsettersmagazine.com