I’m almost at the place where you get to find out what has become of Los Gringos but I wanted to share one last memory of my first experiences there. Los Gringos was the first place that Honey and I went to that wasn’t an all-inclusive resort. We were on a tight budget and it was inexpensive… and something different.
The best way to describe the difference between Los Gringos and every all-inclusive resort I have stayed at, is that when you go to Los Gringos you’re going to the cottage and when you go to the Grand Bahia Principe, you are going to a hotel. So for the uninitiated traveler, I would suggest the resort.
The resorts are safer and far more homogenized. After all they cater to everyone. They are going to give you, the customer, what they believe you are looking for, with some Dominican flavour. And that’s what I believe most of the people that travel are looking for. They are looking for the same experience as the one their neighbour came home raving about.
So I say go and experience the large resorts, spend some time partying with a thousand strangers, standing in line waiting to be seated to eat, then standing in line to get your like-warm food and watching some guy stagger around the tables, bumping into everyone (Oh, sorry, that was me). Enjoy getting up early and using your beach towel to reserve seating by the pool or on the beach or both if you have enough towels, because by 9 am there won’t be a chair to be found. How many times have I read, “Not enough loungers” or “Beach chairs were all covered by 9am”? The fact that people have to write about seating by the pool or beach is enough to tell me that they are surrounded by sun worshippers and there’s not enough places to put everyone.
At Los Gringos there are only twelve loungers but you can have any one but the one Captain is lying on, at nine or noon or two, no towel required. It doesn’t matter, the beach is virtually yours. Your cabana deck is ocean view, with nothing but a few palms between you and the water. Thirty steps over sand and your feet are wet. Food and drink are delivered to the cabana if you wish so you can enjoy the sunrise over morning coffee or watch the sunset over drinks. Take a stroll down the deserted coastline just like the pictures in the brochures, just you and the one you love.
At Los Gringos the cabanas are a little dated and campy and yes, there are bugs (see Bug Bait). They don’t put on nightly shows, or serve your drinks in little plastic cups filled from a Slurpee machine for free. No they don’t have a pool, although Patrick would tell you “We have the biggest damn pool in the world” and there is no spa and the employees don’t wear uniforms, they have T-Shirts. There are not seven restaurants and eleven bars to choose from. There is only one.
Los Gringos is not an all-inclusive resort, where you get a bracelet that tells you where you can go (remember the wheel barrow) and where you belong. They don’t have a dress code for meals or require a reservation to eat at the a la carte restaurant. They don’t offer upgrades or kids club. They do offer wi-fi that works, unless it’s really cloudy, then all bets are off (that’s as good as I get anywhere else). Los Gringos does not come with all the bells and whistles. They do not offer a prepackaged vacations tailored to appeal to even the most discerning of tastes. It’s the cottage!
What Los Gringos does have is some of the best food you will ever taste, served hot and plentiful. It has the intimacy of that secluded island get-a-way that we all see on television and desire. It has some of the best people that you could hope to meet working there, people who are friendly and welcoming. People that invite you to be part of their family for the short time you are with them, allowing you to experience the real Dominican Republic. What Los Gringos has is that intangible that makes a good vacation, a great one.
Most of us live our lives in the middle of the road. We chose our vacation spots based on how much bang we can get for our buck. We frequently interpret this to mean, “Bigger is better.” We all want to get more than we paid for, and sometimes if we’re lucky we do.
If I were a wealthy man I would never have considered Los Gringos, it would have fallen below my radar, and as a result I would have missed a truly unique experience. For as much as I thought that I liked the places with the Dominican flavour, I loved the place with the Dominican soul.