Behind The Scenes at a 5-Star All-Inclusive Resort on the Mayan Riviera

After our recent holiday, I was interested in learning more about these mega-resorts (practically mini-cities) operate.

This article provides a great overview on this subject, giving a behind-the-scenes tour of the same chain we stayed at in the Dominican Republic but from their Mayan Riviera complex.

Q&A With the Selfie Stick’s Unsung Canadian Inventor

These things (presumably some originals and some knock-offs) were fairly common sights in Punta Cana though not ubiquitous by any measure either.

Music Monday – “What’s the reason why/Da Vinci had to paint/Lennon had to write/About peace”

Remember how, in the old days, you’d try to maximize your $14.99 (or $19.99 or more!) when buying a cassette or CD?

To do this, instead of blowing your cash on an album by a single artist that might only have 1-2 songs you like, you’d pick an album with a title like “Biggest Chart Toppers Ever!” or “MuchMusic Countdown 1991″ with a bunch of hits by various artists.

We were fortunate that Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band happened to be playing in Punta Cana while we were there last week and after seeing a once-in-a-lifetime concert with Paul McCartney a couple summers ago, this was a “twice-in-a-lifetime” chance for me to see the only other living Beatle.

For the past 25 years, Ringo has formed an ever-changing band out of the secondary players from popular bands of the past or front men from one- (or two) hit wonders.

I knew this wasn’t going to be a full-on Ringo concert going in but what I didn’t think about too much was that a Ringo Starr concert gets you the equivalent of that old Various Artists cassette tape…which is actually kind of cool.

To put it another way, I probably wouldn’t pay to see Toto or Mr. Mister but getting to see a crack band play those band’s biggest hits (plus songs by Todd Rundgren, Santana and of course, Mr. Starkey as well!) was an amazing experience, made all the better by the fabulous setting on an outdoor terrace at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

I think there was only one song I didn’t recognize and when I got back to Canada and looked it up on YouTube (where a full Ringo concert with pretty much the setlist we saw is available), I realised that’s because it was an original one of the players wrote and Ringo allowed to play on the tour…

(Here’s the setlist for the entire concert we saw in Punta Cana.)

Saturday Snap – Farewell to #PuntaCana #grandpalladium

Back from our week long holiday in the Dominican Republic and now the long sad process of unpacking and downloading all the pictures we took and catching up on neglected stuff at home begins.

We’ll likely get a fuller album up on Facebook eventually but here’s one shot of us from the week taken by the beach just a couple hours before we headed for the plane…

Weird Thoughts You Have While Flying

Very likely that there will be a week long blog holiday as we leave for the Dominican Republic tomorrow for a week’s holiday…

Travel Planning, Coincidence and (Another) Once In A Lifetime Experience

Recently, at my library, I delivered a program called “Trip Planning 2.0: How To Research Your Vacation Online” where I gave registrants a “guided tour” of some the most useful sites for trip planning, both well-known (Google, TripAdvisor) and lesser-known (Reddit, FourSquare).

(The program was basically an expanded version of a blog post I did before our Kauai trip about how I researched everything I could about Kauai.)

My biggest point in the presentation was this…

The anticipation of planning a trip can be (almost) as exciting as the trip itself.  And today, technology gives you so much more information in advance of your trip in a way that wasn’t possible even a decade or so ago which helps raise the excitement level even more!

From being able to watch YouTube videos of the beaches you’ll walk on to sites that allow you to directly ask questions to locals before your trip to all but guaranteeing you’ll get the lowest possible price for hotels and flights, we live in an amazing time.

So, with our pending trip to the Dominican Republic, I’ve been using what I taught in that class myself – visiting YouTube for everything from videos of attractions we might visit to the the cuisine of the Dominican Republic to videos from a drone flying over Bavaro Beach.   Googling up a storm.  Reading blogs.  Reading reviews on TripAdvisor. Checking a forum created by people who love the resort chain we’re going to.  Reading Reddit.  On and on and on.

Last night, I was surfing and remembered I hadn’t really spent a lot of time on Twitter reading up on what people were saying about the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana and our hotel.  (My point about Twitter in the presentation was that it was best for timely information so there wasn’t as much point about checking on Twitter a month ago when we booked the trip.)

One tweet caught my eye which was an interview with a guy who manages the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and completely randomly, in the interview, he mentioned that Ringo Starr was coming to their resort on THIS SATURDAY NIGHT!

Now I’m already on record that I’m a huge Beatles fan and seeing Paul McCartney a couple summers ago was a highlight of my life.  But I never thought I’d have the opportunity to see the only other living Beatle in concert – and here it is falling right into my lap!

Had a chat with Shea about the various ways to make it happen and after some conversations with her parents and my parents (who are going on the trip with us) this morning, Shea’s folks very kindly offered to babysit the kids and then Shea, me and my folks would go to the concert which is at a nearby resort!

I went online to book tickets (I was a bit surprised there were some available last night and still today but when I went to book the tickets, I realised why this might be – they were being sold on the Dominican equivalent of Ticketmaster but with no obvious way to view the site in English.  This is a bit intimidating if you’re doing an expensive financial transaction but again, with the use of modern technology – namely Google Chrome offering to auto-translate every page as I walked through the process – I managed to get the tickets ordered.  At least I hope so – I’ll find out Saturday night!)

So yeah, technology has helped me have a second Once in a Lifetime experience – how cool is that (and again, technology even gives me a preview of what the show will be like – here’s a clip of a Ringo Starr All Star Band concert that happened less than 48 hours ago in South Carolina!)


Music Monday – Bachata Dancers in the Dominican Republic

Nine Hilarious SNL Auditions You Have To See

Saturday Night Live is having their 40th Anniversary Special tonight.  For some people, it’s Python or SCTV or Richard Pryor.  But for me (and most of my friends), SNL probably played more of a role in developing our sense of humour than any other single source.

Some great treasures in the audition tapes including perhaps SNL’s greatest cast member…

Saturday Snap – After Vacuuming Their Heads…

Friday Fun Link- A Hard Day’s Night First Chord Solved?