Breathless Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

As most of you know us my now, I am Kent and married to Princess Sharon. We travel somewhere warm the last week of January every year for our anniversary. We got married on the beach in St. Lucia 2003, I promised her we would go somewhere warm every year. This was our 12th trip. The rest of the trips can be found over on my vacation page.

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We traveled to the Breathless Resort and Spa in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic 1/25/15 – 2/1/15.

We had been to Punta Cana twice before and has always kind of been our backup safety destination.  I usually start looking for our Anniversary trip shortly after Labor Day about the time I am closing the pool.  Last fall prices were up and wasn’t sure I was even going to be able to find a deal.  Then Apple Vacations ran an adults only six apple special.  Some quick web research and I had it narrowed down to it had to be one of 3 6 apple resorts on Punta Cana.  The Hard Rock, the Iberostar Grand, or the new Breathless.  I was about 95% sure we would get Breathless since both Breathless and Apple Vacations are both owned by the same parent company AM Resorts. I booked it non stop from St. Louis for $3,400.  People on our same flight that stayed at Breathless said they paid $8,300.  Of course we didn’t know where we were staying until check-in at the airport the morning of departure.  I was so confident that I only did web research on Breathless!

Transfer from airport to resort:
The new Breathless was the last resort north of the airport and was only 32 minutes from the time we left the airport to the resort.  Only 7 couples from our plane were going to Breathless and we had a small bus with good AC and plenty of room.

Check In:
Greeted by an attendant with a silver tray of cold facial cloths and fruity cocktails.  We arrived around 12:30PM. Since this wasn’t my first rodeo, I identified our bags for the bell boys while Sharon got in line to check in.  We were the second couple to check in.  Our room was ready, and the bell boys had our luggage in our room in 10 minutes.  We freshened up, headed downstairs to get a drink and bite to eat, people were still checking in.

The room:
I was able to sweet talk us in a partial ocean view room, even though I only paid for the garden view.  Once again the silver tongued devil, talked us into a free upgrade.  The room had 2 full sized beds instead of the King.  Sharon stated the view off our balcony was more than worth the 2 beds so I didn’t try to get us moved.

The Hotel opened in October of 2013.  The resort has 750 rooms, but the resort never felt crowded.

GREAT water pressure in the shower, and a separate toilette room for the toilette and bidet.

Excellent room safe … digital combo and included no extra charge like some hotels.

Full sized bottles of shower gel (great scent … not exactly sure what it was) and shampoo were provided and the maid automatically provided “additional” when we ran low by mid-week.  Our maids were excellent the day maid was quick and always made sure we had an abundance of towels (never had to ask for more). The night maid turned down the bed and left a schedule and chocolates for the following days planned activities.  She left us daily towel animals after the second day she left us a swan, and then I left her a monkey and a tip.

Beach: 
Was really nice and very walkable. Our favorite beach of all trips.  It is over 30 miles long, flat and great soft walkable sand.  No sunsets on this beach this is sunrises only.

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Food: 
There are eleven gourmet dining venues, where reservations are never required except for the Hibachi grill. Long pants were only required in the French restaurant.  I think we ate in most of them except for the Lebanese.  We ate fish almost every meal.  I would rate the food some of the best yet from any of the all inclusive we have been too.

Travel Tip: 
I always travel with at least 100 USD ones, This time I took extra.  100 in ones and 75 in fives.  Wasn’t sure we were going to stay so I took extra tipping money.  One of our favorite poolside waitresses YoLenny told me she made $180 a month USD.  They work 11 straight 11 hour days to get a three day weekend.  I was tipping on every drink and our glasses were never empty.  After-all I was already at least 5 thousand ahead on this trip.

Drinks:
We took our Tervis Tumblers but never used them.  YoLenny wouldn’t let our drinks get low enough to break out the larger insulated cups.  🙂

I drank 15 year old scotch all week, and Herradura Tequila shots.  All liquor was top shelf.

Pool:
Chairs and palapa were never a problem.  I set our towels out by 9, but no need to get up at 6 AM to get chairs.  There were plenty of big blue rafts and you could always get one as needed.

Internet: 
Internet was included and free as well as free international calls.  Not as fast at home but good enough. Pretty much had connectivity the entire time, the entire resort had coverage.

The Spa:
This was the first time EVER Sharon didn’t use the Spa.  The Spa and Gym both looked nice.

Shopping:
We walked next door to the little set of shops that are located between Breathless and the Dreams Punta Cana located half mile away.

The USD dollars were preferred and usually could get things about 60% of their first price. Only a couple times did I get them down to half price.  The best deal I got was a Michael Kors purse.  I am pretty sure it was fake, they started at $350.  I got them down to $70 and walked away.  The next day, he chased me down and told me he would take $40 and 2 cheeseburgers and pops from the resort.  I loaded up 2 cheeseburgers, fries and 2 bottles of soda from our room fridge and smuggled them out of the resort in our beach bag.  I don’t think they made any money on the purse, but then again they got to eat. and Sharon was happy with her Anniversary present.

Overall:
This was the nicest property we have stayed at.  It is large with 750 rooms, but with all the restaurants and pools it never felt crowded. I feel this was the best value I have had yet. Not sure how I would rate this hotel if I paid full price.

Great value and our favorite beaches and even found some hummingbirds to photograph!

Hope this helps!
Kent

Gallery Of Photos:

Hummingbirds of Breathless Punta Cana

Found a few hummingbirds while on our anniversary trip at the new Breathless resort in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.  I took my Canon 5D3 for a smaller travel profile.  Shooting these little guys I really missed my Canon 1DX’s 12 FPS.

I paired my 5D3 with my new 100-400mm IS mkii.  This was a really small profile for traveling that had quite a bit of reach.

802A0171-2-FrameShopKJ5D0182-FrameShop KJ5D0185-FrameShop KJ5D0187-FrameShop KJ5D0188-FrameShop KJ5D0195-FrameShopI am not 100% sure but I believe these to be Rufus.  Does anybody know for sure?

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Thanks for stopping by, Life is good, and I am blessed!
Kent

 

Wow What a Year, A Look Back

Hard to believe that a year has already gone by.  I had been meaning for a long time to get my own website up and running.  My son and I own PhotosByJarrett (PBJ).  He started a second blog site around his love of cycling over at CyclesInLife.  So I decided what the heck and launched this blog site one year ago.

After I got the domain and learned some WordPress basics I was off and running. At that time one of my friends had a cousin that was playing in the IHSA Girls 2A Volleyball.  He asked if I would go to Illinois State University’s Redbird Arena to take a few photos.  I was still rocking a pair of Gripped 7D’s.  Wasn’t in there long when I was handed a press pass and was on the floor shooting at the net.

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I used KodakGallery to store all my vacation photos for over 10 years, so early on I wrote a Vacations Through the Years entry.  I use this blog entry as a chronological time journey through the years.  One of favorites was my first golf trip to Arizona.

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While PBJ is our business for Weddings, Families, Seniors, and all other “people” type photography, I had been hooked on Eagles and other wildlife.

I could see my photos improving over the past two eagle seasons, but knew I was limited by the crop body cameras I owned.  I went ahead and pulled the trigger on Canon’s top of the line 1DX and the new 70-200 f2.8 L IS Mark ii. No more excuses, I am after results.

WOW, my world changed!  I got my Canon 1DX right before Christmas, set it up and immediately went after my beloved eagles!  First day in the field results.

Copyright: PhotosByJarrett {2010-2014}

I wrote the article Eagles / Birds in Flight: How to, Tips and Tricks about my eagle setup and editing techniques.  It remains my most visited post with close to 10 thousand visits.

For the past 2 years I have done and completed a 52 week project.  That is where I force myself to shoot a new photo of the week every week for a year.  I completed year two in November 2013.  Took a few weeks off and started my third 52 week project with week 1 of 2014:  Still on the fence as to rather or not I will continue to do a Photo of the week for 2015.  What do you think, keep going or are you all sick of them?

Ixtapa Hummingbird

Early January, my Eagles were going crazy due to the cold and numbers were way up!  I spent 3 weekends straight with my Eagles.  It is crazy how many photos you can click off at 12 Frames Per Second with the 1DX.  A full fishing sequence.

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If fact the winter was SO cold that it forced Snowy Owls out of the Arctic and all the way to central Illinois.  Snowy Owls of Illinois (Third most visited post)

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So cold in fact the waterfalls of Starved Rock State Park froze solid! (my second most visited post)

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Even played with a little light painting with fire this winter.

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During March I was asked by Matt and Ashly to do their maternity session.  Talk about pressure, try shooting for another photographer!  I was relieved they liked my work 🙂

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Was lucky enough to score tickets to the Masters and spent a couple days in Augusta with good friends!  Bubba won again.  Both times I have gone to the Masters Bubba has won.

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Stopped at the Great Smoky Mountains on the way back from the Masters and spend some time in Cade’s Cove.  Was too early for Bears, but still a great time!

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No major trips during the summer, just lots of golf and a couple major home improvement projects:  First the landscaping, then granite and tile in the kitchen.

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Little Layla Lou Jarrett finally was born on May 6th, 2014.  What a bundle of joy!

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Got the crazy idea that I had enough followers and interest to publish a 2015 Wildlife calendar. Being too tight to finance the project my self I turned to a crowd funding site Kick Starter.  The project came really close.  the project raised $2,000 of the $3,000 needed.  It was an interesting case study of demographics and social media.  The older crowd the wanted the calendar didn’t understand crowd funding, and the younger crowd that understand crowd funding don’t want a paper calendar.  Look for an even better 2016 calendar, just ran out of time to make a 2015 this year!

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Another good friend opened his life long dream of his own high-tech shooting range: Central Illinois Shooting Sports.  I was proud to be asked to have my work displayed in his member’s lounge!  My gallery debut.

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My last major trip of the year was back to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (GSMNP) to once again meet up with my sister to photograph the Elk of Cataloochee Valley.  What a special place.  I also spent 3 days in Cades Cove and found lots of whitetail deer, but the bears had gone back up the mountain to start on acorns.

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Have a golf trip back to Phoenix this week, and as much as I hate winter, looking forwards to my Eagles on the mighty Mississippi river once again!  Not sure what 2015 will hold for me, but as life and wildlife happen in front of my lens, I’ll do my best to share it on this blog for you!

Enjoy what you read and the photos? Subscribe to be notified of future posts via email by either clicking the Follow button at the bottom or the Subscribe section on the right!  Feel free to leave a comment.

Thanks for stopping by, Life is good, and I am blessed!
Kent

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The Masters 2014 Golf Trip Day1

We left Bloomington 5:30 AM and after a non eventful 12:45 hour drive we arrived in Augusta Ga.  We got up Sunday and headed out for breakfast.  Of course on a golf trip in the South, you have to have breakfast at a Waffle House!

We played Bartram Trail Golf Course.  Now I can say I have played golf in Augusta.

Only 3 of us made the trip, Greg, Brad and me.

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61 degrees when we teed off and then dropped to 54 degrees and spit rain a few time. No denim at the course, and I didn’t bring dress pants.  I did have my rain pants, but too stupid to put them on.

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#17, 167 yard par 3 signature hole.

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Hope the rain holds off tomorrow, but better tomorrow that Tuesday when I go to the Masters.  I am going to try and post a few photos every night.

Enjoy what you read and the photos? Subscribe to be notified of future posts via email by either clicking the Follow button at the bottom or the Subscribe section on the right!  Or feel free to leave a comment.

Thanks for stopping by!
Kent

Sunscape Dorado Pacifico Ixtapa Mexico

As some of you know us my now, we are Kent & Sharon. We travel somewhere warm the last week of January every year for our anniversary. We got married on the beach in St. Lucia 2003, I promised her we would go somewhere warm every year. This was our 11th trip. The rest of the trips can be found over on my vacation page.

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We traveled to the Sunscape Dorado Pacifico Ixtapa Mexico from 1/25/14 – 2/1/14.

We have traveled to Mexico on our last two trips to Huatulco Mexico staying at Secrets and Dreams.  Traveling the last week of January I had been interested in Ixtapa due to price point but worried about temperatures not being warm enough.  This year I rolled the dice and the weather was perfect.  88 was the lowest and 93 was the highest.  72 to 73 every evening.  PERFECT temperatures!

Transfer from airport to resort:
This was one of the first applevacation trips where there was a mess up.  86 people from our plane was going to Sunscape.  They told all 86 people to get on the same bus, even though there were 2 buses and plenty of room.  They usually check off your name as you board the bus.  Once on the bus and we were rolling, 25 minute ride from the airport on a nice bus.

Check In:
Greeted by an attendant with a silver tray of cold facial cloths and fruity cocktails followed by a tray of chocolate chip cookies. We arrived around 3:30PM. Since this wasn’t my first rodeo, I identified our bags for the bell boys while Sharon got in line to check in.  We were the second couple to check in.  Our room was ready, and the bell boys had our luggage in our room in 10 minutes.  We freshened up, headed downstairs to get a drink and bite to eat, people were still checking in.

The room:
The placed us in a partial ocean view room, even though I only paid for the garden view.  Once again the silver tongued devil, talked us into a free upgrade.  When we got to the room, I was surprised we had 2 full sized beds instead of the King.  I was going to move us to a King, but Miss Sharon said she could really use a break 🙂

Worse part of the trip was the beds.  They set the mattress on a concrete frame.  Rock hard.  We were both pretty sore and achy by the end of the week.  We heard on the bus on the return trip to the airport that several other couples asked and received mattress toppers.  I missed the boat on that one.  🙂

GREAT water pressure in the shower.

Excellent room safe … digital combo and included no extra charge like some hotels.

Full sized bottles of shower gel (great scent … not exactly sure what it was) and shampoo were provided and the maid automatically provided “additional” when we ran low by mid-week.  Our maids were excellent the day maid was quick and always made sure we had an abundance of towels (never had to ask for more). The night maid turned down the bed and left a schedule for the following days planned activities

Beach: 
Was really nice and very walkable. Our second favorite beach of all trips.  It is1.8 miles long, flat and great soft walkable sand.  You can get sunset photos every night and three of the restaurants can view sunsets.

Food: 
The property did a really nice job of changing things up. One night a Mexican cookout buffet in the ballroom with a dinner and a show.
The food was good and very consistent with other AMstar properties we have been too. They only disappointment in the food category was the Italian specialty restaurant.

There are no limitations on how often you can go to any of the specialty restaurants. No reservations needed! We tried all the specialty restaurants; the Oceania restaurant was by far the best, followed by Gohan. We ate fish almost every meal. Highly recommend the coconut ice cream.

If Sunscape are reading this, do away with not taking reservations.  People had to line up 30 – 45 minutes early to get in when restaurants open.  Open them earlier and allow reservations.  Less stress on your travlers.

Travel Tip: 
I always travel with at least 100 USD ones, but wasn’t really needed this time. We did end up tipping the waitresses and maids and received outstanding service! By the end of the week they all knew my drink of choice and almost fought over each other to wait on me.

Pool:
Chairs and shade could be a problem.  People head down the claim their pool chairs around 6:30, they hand out the towels at 7:00, then a guy with a clip boards comes by and takes your room number then you are free to come and go.  Not a huge pain, I was able to get choice chairs every morning, just a good thing bed was hard and I was always up by 6:00.  We had read the reports about this, so we took our own beach towels and clips, which made it really easy for me to claim chairs before the chaos.   No rafts, but we took a 1.99 blow up and the pool entertainment team blew it up for me.

Internet: 
was included and free. Not as fast at home but good enough. I was able to use my MacBookPro, iPad2, and iPhone everywhere on the property. Photo uploads were slow.

Time Share:
We had been to the time share last 3 or 4 years, I like messing with them.  I was in there for 90 minutes I got 270 USD out of them.  100 in resort money, we used it for a tour, and 170 cash.  Used it for a lobster dinner across street and pocketed the rest.

The Spa:
This was the first time Sharon didn’t use the Spa.  The Spa and Gym both looked nice.  However, if you walk north on the beach, right out of the hotel.  There is a public entrances the beach, 10 minute walk.  There are massage huts.  Hut #4, Carla, will do a 60 minute deep tissue for $15 USD.  Sharon said it was better than any $120 dollar she has had anywhere else.  She ended up getting 2.

Shopping:
We rode the public bus to Zihuatenejo for 9 pesos each.  We got off at Elcktra and walked down to Cino De Mayo Ave to the fish market and local shops.  Went smooth and felt safe.  On the way back they were setting up a local circus and I got some photos of camels, zebras and tigers.

I got 13.4 pesos on the dollar at the bank next door to the hotel, but mostly got pesos at the hotel desk for 12.70.

Elevators:
Every ride on the elevator was a little bit of a gamble.  We never got stuck or had any problems but we heard other horror stories.  They are due to upgrade.

Overall:
AM Resorts are trying and have been pumping in some money.  They property is on the smaller size, but they do a good job of fitting a lot into that space.  They never open all restaurants, on any one night mostly due to they share sitting space.  You come in one entrance it is  Blue Water, you come in the other side the next night, different name and menu.

Great value and one of our favorite beaches.  Will go back to Ixtapa, but probably not this property until they give it some more love.

Hope this helps!
Kent

Gallery Of Photos:

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