Sunday, March 15, 2015

We Are Engaged

I can't believe that I just posted that title. But yes - it's true, Richard and I are engaged to be married.

Richard proposed on our recent vacation away to Samana. We always celebrate the anniversary of our first date - which was seven years ago. This year we were on vacation at the beautiful Bhia Prinicipe Cayo Levantado (more about the resort HERE) on our anniversary.

When we arrived late on Wednesday evening the hotel staff greeted us in the lobby with glasses of champagne as a welcome. We were barely in the door when one of the concierge asked 'are you Mr *****'. My immediate thought was that he knows someone wherever we go. Richard had told me the day before that he had contacted the hotel about our request for a specific room/view, so it made sense.
When we arrived in our room there was a large bouquet of flowers, champagne, chocolate covered strawberries and a note that said  Je t'aime Katherine. So the concierge speaking to him made sense - or so I thought.
There have been many times that Richard has arranged flowers in our room with the same love note to me. It's never expected and it is always a wonderful surprise for me.

Over the next four days we found our way around the resort, made friends with a wonderful couple from the UK, we bask in the sun, begin to breath at a normal pace and relax. Well, maybe I was relaxed - I'm not sure now if Richard was breathing at a normal rate or not. Sunday was a special day - our seventh anniversary together. We share cards with love notes at breakfast and the day at the beach with our new friends. In the evening we head out to dinner.

When we arrived at the Mediterraneo restaurant on the resort they seem to understand that it's our anniversary and there is something special on the menu. I anticipate a dinner table laden with flower petals and maybe the napkins morphed into the shape of a swan (island resorts love to do this origami thing), champagne and hand holding over dinner.
We are escorted to the beach for a 'gala dinner'. The pathway to our table is lit by red candle lanterns. Richard and I love dining al'fresco, especially when we are away in the warm evening air and this is the ultimate. From our table at the beach we can see the sun setting, hear the waves singing against the shore and it is pure romance. It is the perfect anniversary dinner together and once again he is spoiling me.

The waiter served five delicious courses and kept the wine flowing. One of the dinner features at the resort restaurants is to present the dinner course under a dome - then take off the dome for both dinner guests at the same time. And so - at the end of the meal our dessert arrives under a dome. When dessert is revealed I thought 'wow, chocolate something' - but I wasn't sure what it was (it was dimly lit via candlelight). I looked at Richards plate then back at mine and realized that the chocolate something was a brown leather ring box....... with a diamond engagement ring inside.

It seemed to me that Richard was so calm, and I was not. In a very serious manner Richard said, 'will you marry me. Will you be my wife'. I said yes.
The entire time a server from the restaurant was singing acapella and our waiter was standing by waiting to pour champagne. Then it all became a blur - maybe because my heart was brimming and the tears were flowing. It was a beautiful night together.
Making things even sweeter is the fact that Richard met with my thirty-three year old son ahead of time, and asked for his permission to marry me. Yes - he is so incredibly thoughtful to everyone.

And here he is - my fiancee, sitting on the veranda at the resort as we wait for the airport transfer to go home and start our new journey together.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Samana, Dominican Republic

I have been an absent blogger.
Richard and I were vacationing in the Dominican Republic. The Bhia Principe Cayo Levantado on the island of Samana was our home for two glorious weeks. Samana is located between Punta Cana and Puerto Plata, and the resort is a ten minute boat ride to a private island that houses just the Bhia Principe. For Canadians - Air Canada vacations fly direct to Samana.

The 'door' to the resort is the private boat dock.

Our criteria for the vacation was - a beach resort, all inclusive, adults only. We were not looking for extra activities - we just needed sunshine and rest. And we got exactly that.
The island is incredibly lush with beautiful views out to the water or back towards the mainland. The hotel features a four story main building were the lobby, three floors of rooms, the main buffet, and terrace with alfresco dinning are located. The balance of the resort is made up of several villa's throughout the island.

There are three pools - one at the beach area, one nestled between the villa's near the Don Pablo restaurant and a quiet pool area that is referred to as the spa pool (albeit it is not near the spa). Both main pools have a bar and buffet restaurant, which is perfect for lunch.

Beach pool

Beach pool

The beach offered the opportunity to sit out in the sun or shaded under the tree's the lined the curve of the shore.

The pools are very clean, the rooms, buildings and grounds at the resort are very well kept.

The main pool was our hang out spot

Traveling throughout the resort was convenient. The paths are small cobble lined roads flanked with lush tree's and if we didn't feel like walking (or if it was raining), we took one of the 'taxi's' to the restaurants or main lobby.

Taxi !!
I didn't take great pictures of our room, but the website for the hotel shows them accurately. They were large, clean and well equiped. We had a junior suite in villa #15, which was only steps from the main pool area and convenient to everything.

our villa

The view from our large balcony looked back towards the mainland. Just after a bit of late day rain stopped, a double rainbow appeared over the water when one of the cruise ships passed through the area. It was always a pretty view to wake up to and enjoy at the end of the day.

There are cottage style villa's at the beach area.They face out to the beach, the pool and flank either side the Portifino restaurant.

beach villa's face out to the beach/pool area

There are four feature restaurants in addition to the main buffet. We visited the Don Pablo and Rodizio restaurants once, the Mediteranneo and the Portifino were the two we preferred.The main buffet was very well presented with food options for every taste, and it quickly became our dining choice each evening. The chefs at the main buffet create wonderful hors d'oeuvres that get your palette prepared for the gourmet theme each evening.

Richard and I had a very special dinner one evening - which I will share with you in my next post.

It was a pleasure walking down to dinner each evening. The property is so lush and the stars were always glowing in the sky. Running enthusiasts will appreciate the path markers along the cobbled paths, the full gym and tennis courts. The spa offers a full menu of treatments in addition to hair stylist services.

Richard and I went out on a whale watching trip one day (available from the hotel dock). It had been a stormy night and we weren't sure if we would be going out on the water that morning - but we did. And really - I shouldn't have. Despite taking anti-nausea meds, after a half hour of spotting whales all I really wanted was to be thrown overboard in my life jacket and allowed to float back to shore. I kept my eyes on the horizon and sometimes the whales.

Several mornings while we were sitting on the terrace for breakfast we saw the humpback whales just off the shore at the hotel.

As we sat out on the veranda with a beverage in hand just before we left to come back home. We both agreed that another week in this lush paradise would have been easy to take. We will likely visit again when the snow is too much for us to endure.