by Erin Davis
Before COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the world, Dominican Republic was a longtime tourist favourite for visitors of all budgets and lifestyles.
In fact, with 6.6 million international travelers each year (in better times, at least), it’s the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean.
After taking a major hit in the tourism department thanks to the pandemic, the country has shifted a focus to promote tourism, including free medical insurance and rapid COVID-19 breath tests upon entry. Last month, President Luis Abinader Corona outlined the Responsible Tourism Recovery Plan, which included becoming the first nation in the world to employ rapid Breathalyzer COVID-19 tests upon entry.
What this means for sun-seeking travelers is that they won’t have to get a more invasive PCR test prior to traveling to the Dominican Republic (though there’s no harm in being overly cautious). Instead, authorities will administer a random breath test to between 3 and 10 per cent of travelers upon arrival.
The change took effect September 15. Prior to this, all travelers were required to present a negative PCR COVID-19 test that was administered within the past five days. Those without one were tested with the rapid test.
Currently, the Dominican Republic doesn’t have quarantine entry requirements in place, nor does it offer the option of quarantines instead of COVID-19 testing. All patients are required to fill out a health affidavit provided on the plane.
Accounting for perpetually uncertain times, the Dominican Republic also offers a free travel assistance plan until December 2020 for those staying at a hotel. The plan includes general emergency coverage, COVID-19 testing, and the cost coverage for long-term stays if a visitor becomes sick or needs to quarantine.
Whether you book a trip in the coming months, or bookmark options for when the time is right for you, Dominican Republic is filled with wellness options. Throughout the country, you’ll find no shortage of opportunities for yoga, meditation, water sports, hiking and spa days. The country’s sprawling beaches, infinity pools and lush surroundings make stress reduction simple.
At Eden Roc Cap Cana & Beach Club, a gorgeous Relais & Châteaux property set within a 30,000-acre gated community in Punta Cana, guests can enjoy a revitalizing and memorable stay that cuts no corners. The property boasts a 20,000 square-foot Wellness & Spa Center housing a full-service spa, a hydrotherapy section, healthy juice bar and fitness centre with daily complimentary classes including meditation, yoga and stretching. Guests can also unwind in one of the resort’s designated Wellness Suites. A fine dining menu is filled with vegan options and welcomes all dietary restrictions.
Meanwhile, the beachfront, adults-only Meliá Punta Cana Beach redefines the Dominican Republic all-inclusive experience. Here, the resort’s Wellness Inclusive program offers a collection of wellness experiences and rituals, with personalized physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, social and environmental journeys for their wellness-seeking guests. Through five signature Well-Spaces – Social, Silent, Sensory, Culinary and Personal – with activities like yoga, bike tours, painting, sound healing, meditation, and cooking workshops. Guests can also develop a respect for the natural habitat through running tours exploring the land, local traditions, food, communities and natural wonders of the region. TTW editor Anne Dimon visited for this story on Melia’s Wellness Inclusive program.
While travel may seem daunting right now, when the time is right to visit Dominican Republic again, the invitation is certainly there.
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Erin Davis is a Toronto-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Travel to Wellness. Follow her: @erinnicoledavis