Villa Playamor
Fully staffed with luxury
accomodations for 16

What about Zika?

It is found now in all areas of the Caribbean. It is a virus carried by a mosquito, so it is found mainly in areas that have swampy conditions or lots of standing water and poor sanitation. Our area of Cofresi does have mosquitos but the community routinely sprays for these. Our area is not swampy and does not have problems with sanitation. Our staff sprays in the house when necessary and if you notice mosquitos the staff will be happy to spray again. Most people who get bit and contract Zika do not know that they have had the infection at all. But, Zika infections in pregnant women have been linked to a condition called microcephally in forming babies. This is a severe condition that causes mental deficiencies. It is strongly recommended that if you are pregnant or intending to become pregnant in the next 6 months, you should not travel to anywhere in the Caribbean. For men, you can contract the virus and spread it sexually to your partner for up to 6 months after contracting the infection. Using condoms and dental dams is effective in preventing the spread of the virus from person to person. Everyone is recommended to use insect repellents in areas where mosquitos are found. For more information consult the government site at www.CDC.gov/Zika  .


F A Q

We often are asked questions about various health and safety issues in the Dominican Republic. As a whole, it is a beautiful and friendly country, but it is an emerging nation and as such there may be concerns that you have.

What about safety?

We have never felt "unsafe" while in the DR. There is little personal crime there. You, of course, should follow the same precautions that you would in most US cities about leaving possessions unattended. It is also a good idea to stay  with a group or on a well lit or traveled street.

The dead end road to Cofresí enters through one of our neighboring resorts. Although this road is not gated, security staffers usually watch the people coming and going carefully. Staff from the resorts and local night watchmen also are seen along the roads and beach making sure that it is a welcome place for guests to walk, even after dark.

As is custom in the DR, our villa provides a Dominican night-watchman for your comfort.

We suggest that you place all you valuables, as well as your tickets and passports, in the safe that is provided at the villa for an extra measure of safety. Our manager will show you how to operate it on the day of your arrival. 

Caution: The DR now has a zero tolerance policy for drug use and bad behavior. If you get caught using drugs or buying drugs, you will go to jail. Dominican jails are not pleasant places to spend your vacation (and probably a lot longer time). If you are involved in a bar disturbance, you will also probably go to jail. Raucous parties at Playamor will not be tolerated by the neighbors or the authorities. Although prostitution is legal in the DR, it is NOT allowed at Playamor. You will be asked to leave, without refund, if you violate any of these rules.

What about traveling with minor children?

Traveling with your own children, if both parents are present, is not a problem as long as the child has proper identification. In situations where a single parent will be traveling with a minor, see the instructions below from the State Department.

Under the age of 18:

The Dominican Republic has strict requirements concerning the travel of minors (persons under the age of 18) to/from the Dominican Republic who are unaccompanied, traveling with someone other than both parents or legal guardians, or who are traveling with only one parent or legal guardian. The Dominican Republic generally requires such minors carry a letter of consent in Spanish that is signed and notarized by both parents or, if traveling with only one parent, by the parent who is not traveling with the minor. If the travel originates in the U.S., the letter must be notarized before the Dominican Republic Consulate in the U.S. and, in most cases, also filed with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Dominican Republic. A modest fee is generally associated with notarizing/certifying the letter. Any customer under the age of 18 who is unaccompanied, traveling with someone other than both parents or legal guardians, or who is traveling with only one parent or legal guardian, should contact the Dominican Republic Consulate in the United States.

This notarization can usually be accomplished by sending proper documents through the mail to the nearest consulate. It is wise to call them for current instructions.

Do we need a passport?

Travel to the Dominican Republic requires a current passport from your country of citizenship.

Is the water safe?

The water in our house is not purified. It is fine, however, for washing and bathing. This water comes from a city water system to our cistern. We chlorinate the water in the cistern like you would chlorinate the water in your swimming pool. This does not, however, make the tap water safe to drink. Nelly will use only bottled water for cooking and there is bottled water available for drinking in a chill cooler in the kitchen. Nelly will also place a pitcher of bottled water in your bathroom for you to use in brushing your teeth. All the restaurants in Cofresí that are listed in our guide have safe water. As a general rule in the Caribbean, it is best not to buy food from street vendors unless your guide assures you that the food would be safe.

The ocean in front of Playamor, on Cofresí beach, is beautiful. There is no problem swimming there. This water is watched very closely for pollution by the two hotels and most acutely by Ocean World which uses it for it's marine life.

What about malaria?

After the hurricanes in 2004, there were 20 cases of malaria reported by the CDC Travel service. These were all in the Punta Cana area. The DR is a very large island. Punta Cana is as far away from our villa as can be and still be in the same country. Most reported cases still tend to be in the Eastern part of the island near Punta Cana. There are occasional reports of malaria on the north shore where Playamor is located but generally these have been unsubstantiated as far as we know. We do not take anti-malarial drugs and do not know anyone who lives in the area who does. The CDC site recommends that visitors consider taking anti-malarial drugs. It is at least prudent to use mosquito repellent to prevent bites that can spread malaria and other insect borne illnesses.

What about Cholera?

After the Haitian earthquake there was an outbreak of cholera. Cholera is spread by poor sanitation and bad drinking water. If you follow our recommendations and do not take a side trip to Haiti, you will have no problems with this illness.

Are there bugs?

You are going to the Caribbean, to the tropics. There are lots of bugs. Fortunately, our staff sprays frequently to keep the villa as bug free as possible. Ants will magically appear if you leave out food, so please clean up any spills and put away food in the kitchen. Cockroaches (water bugs,cucarachas) are a fact of life in the tropics and do not necessarily mean that an area is dirty, like in the US. If you see ants or roaches, tell the housekeeper or the manger and they will spray again. Mosquitos are frequent if you go into the wooded areas and often will be found at night in the open air restaurants. It is a good idea to wear repellant if going to an open restaurant. If you find mosquitos in the villa, have the housekeeper spray. Please close the screans at night so you will not be bothered by mosquitos.
      Very infrequently we have seen the Caribbean Cinnamon Tarantula on some of the roads at night. These are very interesting creatures and will not bother you. They are useful in keeping other bugs and vermin away from dwellings. They will bite if you pick them up, so be smart and leave them alone.
      As in the United States, there are occassional hatches of insects after rains. These are unpredictable but usually only last one night. If they are a problem, notify our manager or the housekeeper. All in all, our area is usually not a bug problem area.

You may occassionally see small green lizards in the villa, called chamelians. They are very helpful in eating bugs that might find their way into the house. They will not bother you. Please do not kill them.

What about the weather?

The weather is glorious all year `round in the Dominican Republic. As in most areas of the tropics, brief rain squals will come and go, but then the sun will come back out. The day time temperatures are usually in the mid 80's but the cooling breezes from the ocean keep it comfortable. The night time temperatures will often drop below 70 and with the breeze, it is desireable to have a light jacket of long sleeve shirt. Caution: Wear sunsreen at all times. The tropical sun can make your vacation or ruin it.  We recommend that you wear an SPF of 30 and reapply several times during the day.

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What about hurricanes?

You are in the Caribbean. Hurricanes are a fact of life in the late summer and fall, just as they are along the US gulf and east coasts. Fortunately, the north shore of the DR is largely protected by the tall mountains that form the beautiful backdrop for our villa. You may get lots of rain and wind but there has never been severe damage to this area from a hurricane.

What about power outages?

This is a real concern for most of the DR. Electricity is in short supply and very expensive. We ask you to conserve energy as much a possible. Power outages are very common. This is why we have installed a 25 KW diesel generator at Playamor. In the event of an outage, the generator will provide electricity for the villa. No worries, Mon! By the way, our power is the same as in the US. You will not need adapters.

What if we have a problem?

Our staff and management team is there to help. If you have a problem, report it immediately to Gabino Binet, our manager. He is a miracle worker. The time to address these issues is then, not when you have returned home.

Our caretakers, Sandi and Willians, are also available to help you in dealing with minor annoyances. Sandi is bi-lingual and very skilled at making things happen. He can take care of a lot of issues if you tell him about them. Willy's English is also very good and he is always willing to help.

Remember that you are on "island time". Things move slower in the Caribbean. Our staff will do everything in their power to get things fixed promptly but unfortunately sometimes "today" may stretch out longer. Just think of trying to get the "cable guy" to come to your house back home!

 What about Haiti?

The DR shares the island of Hispanola with the country, Haiti. Unfortunately, Haiti is extremely poor and often politically unstable. Because of this, the Dominican Republic has very strict rules about Haitians entering the country. You are literally a world apart. This is not an issue.

What if someone gets sick?

This is a real issue in most third world countries. Fortunately, in Puerto Plata there are several US trained physicians who will gladly accept our guests as their patients. There is a 24 hour emergency clinic nearby. For more serious problems, there is a private hospital in Puerto Plata. Our manager will make arrangements for you if you have need of these services.

Do we need a car?

Are you suicidal?  No, seriously, the drivers in the DR are interesting, at best. Roads are often crowded with cars and darting motor cycles called motoconchos, street signs are few, and car eating potholes are common.Taxis are readily available and all the tours will provide transportation. There are restaurants within walking distance. If you definitely want to get out and drive around, go for it. Cars are available from many vendors, most are located at the airport. Our staff can also help you rent a car if you should decide that you need one for a few days during your stay. If you do rent a car, make sure that you take the full insurance option. If you have a wreck, the company can delay your departure from the country until your insurance company pays their portion of the claim. How long does that take in the US? Multiple this times 10 for the Caribbean and you have just extended your vacation for a long time. 

Taxis

Taxis are the usual way to get around the island if you do not have a car. But, a few words. The taxi stand that we use is only about 2 minutes away at the Hacienda resort. Sandi or Nelly can call for you. Many of the drivers speak some English. There is a taxi rate sheet at the villa. However, gas is becoming a VERY expensive commodity on the island and the rates may change. Be sure that you know in advance what you are going to pay for the trip. Most of the trips are "round trip" fares. The driver will either wait for you or return at a specific time. Do not pay until the trip is completed and you are back at the villa. Taxi drivers in the past did not expect a tip, but many guests will give them a little extra, particularly if they waited for a longer than usual time or helped carry your purchases in to the villa. We have had comments that the taxis are very expensive, but when you look at the expense of maintaining a car on the island and the cost of fuel, compared with a rental car, it seems OK to us. Our staff can also assist you in obtaining a car and driver for longer trips or even your whole vacation if you desire.

If you are calling for a Taxi to take you to a "tourist" location such as the Amber Museum or Botanical gardens, be sure and specify that you do NOT want a guide to come with you (unless, of course, you want a guide). If the taxi arrives with an unwanted guide, politely inform them that you do not need a guide for this trip but offer to take his card for future use.

The Dominicans also use the motorbike "taxis" called motoconchos. These are the pesky little motorcycles that flit in and out of traffic. If you want a thrilling, dangerous (no helmet or any regulations) ride, it costs about $1 each way to town. Just make sure that you leave information about your next of kin with our staff.

What about the roads?

The funniest thing that our family has ever seen in the DR was a Lamborgini sitting on a car lot. With it's 4 inch clearance, I doubt if it could have made it from the lot to the street. Remember, you are in a developing nation. While some of the roads are like back home, many are dirt or gravel and wash extensively in the tropical rains. The main road to Villa Playamor is great (but watch for speed bumps). The city "streets" to the villa from the main road, often are rutted.  Make sure if you rent a car to get one with good clearance.

Phone service?

We provide a cell phone to which you will add minutes by purchasing a phone card found at many places in the area. This is not an ATT card available stateside. If you are not Spanish speaking, Sandi or Nelly can assist you with your calls. Many of the US cell phones will work in the DR. However, make sure that you check with your carrier to find out what the charges are outside of the US before you start to make calls. As of December 2009, the cost of using the phone cards with the villa cell phone was about 20 cents a minute to the US.

Internet service?

Villa Playamor has free wireless Internet access. You will need to bring your own laptop. If there are other needs, there is an Internet Cafe at the beach and a complete buisiness center at the Resort.

What about food costs?

The DR is a large and fertile island. They raise most of their perishables. Fruits and vegetables are inexpensive, for the most part. Pineapples are $1, a bag of grapefruit, tangerines, or oranges in season will run you less than that. But, it is an island and any food that is imported is more expensive. Expect to pay 10% to 25% more for the US brands that you buy there. You will find lots of the US brands on the shelf, but if you can't start the day without your Fruitypebblecocoa puffs or your hazzlenutmocafrenchalmond coffee mate, bring it with you. When our family goes, we usually plan on about $12/person/day if we are eating all our meals at the villa.

The restaurants are comparable to the US. A nice meal with drinks and tip at Chris and Mady's will cost you about $12 - $15. There are Dominican style restaurants where you can really pig out for well under $10. There are American style and German style restaurants where you can drop a bundle if you are looking for fancy. We have a list of the restaurants in our area at the villa. Be warned, there is no "fast food". You have to go to Santiago to find the golden arches etc.

Tipping

Tipping used to not be expected in the DR. However, with the influx of tourists that were used to tipping, the service sector workers have now grown to expect this as well. 10% is a reasonable tip on top of your food costs. Tour guides will also expect a little something if you appreciated their services. The recommended minimum gratuity for your house keeper is $4/person/day. More is certainly appreciated. You are not required to tip Sandi, Willy, Ramone (the night watchman) or the helper maids , but if you think that their service has been excellent, that is certainly appreciated as well.

How much money should I take?

 

Some restaurants, most large stores, Ocean World and the groceries all accept VISA and MasterCard.  American Express and Discovery are usually NOT accepted.  When using your card, you will need some sort of picture ID, a driver’s license or your passport.  If you use you plastic at some smaller restaurants, you may be charged an extra surcharge, whatever the bank charges that establishment to have the service.  Our Guide to eating that you will find in the villa lists the restaurants and the preferred method of paying. The convenience markets in Cofresi accept dollars and pesos but do not accept credit cards.

 

 

You will need US cash for the pick up services and all the tours except Ocean World. All the taxi rides and tips are calculated in US dollars but can be paid in pesos at the correct exchange rate.

 

There is an ATM at the lobby area of the Lifestyles/Hacienda resort. It will give you pesos at a good exchange rate. To use it, you must have a pin number, so check with your card provider for this before you go.

 

You can exchange dollars for pesos at the airport or at several exchange houses in Puerto Plata. Gabino can assist you in getting your dollars exchanged.  It is nice to have some pesos for small items from local vendors. The gratuity paid to the housekeeper can be paid in US dollars or in pesos but should be calculated at a minimum of $4 US/guest/day.

 

 

Note: We find that Traveler’s checks, for the most part, are grudgingly accepted, if at all, by most stores and restaurants. You will generally have to convert them at the bank which is a nuisance.  We usually just take cash and make sure that it is locked with our passports and tickets in the safe in the villa.

 

As of July 2010 the banks are the only places that you can use Traveloer's checks and they ar requiring a 3 day waiting period for the check to clear before they give you the cash!

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