PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic -- Saying it was great to get out last week for the travel industry's first major in-person event since the pandemic would be a gross understatement.
Besides just the change of scenery that the World Travel and Tourism Council's Global Summit offered, it was fun to socialize with old and new friends and resume a somewhat normal work life.
But I am clearly out of practice. By the end of day three in Cancun I was so tired after wrapping up my final story that after making an obligatory walk on the beach and around the pool area of the Moon Palace Resort, the only thing I really wanted to do was soak in the huge tub in my room with a glass of wine and room service.
As luck would have it, however, ALG Vacations had invited me to their first big post-pandemic event in the Dominican Republic starting the next day. And since it was their 500 Club Silver rewards trip for top-selling agents, I knew there would be a little more downtime. It did require a 4 a.m. wake up to catch the first flight through Panama City and then on to Punta Cana. But the moment I arrived I knew it was going to be worth it.
Thanks to Amstar, I disembarked to a surprise plane-side welcome and escort to the VIP lounge, where a customs agent awaited to expedite the entry process.
The beach beckoned at the Secrets and Dreams Royal Beach resorts in Punta Cana. Photo Credit: Jeri Clausing
From there my private driver whisked me to the Secrets and Dreams Royal Beach resorts, where I had a gorgeous suite on the Dreams side of the property overlooking a winding pool and palm trees.
The welcome dinner was on Punta Cana's famed sugar-soft white sand, complete with live music and dancing.
The next day there were a few meetings and interviews but also some welcome downtime,
including a "Year of the Travel Advisor" pool party with more live entertainment and lots of foam, which appears to have become a staple of pool parties at Caribbean resorts.
The best part, though, was feeling like I was finally resuming some kind of normal work travel life, thanks to vaccines and what appears to be fairly widespread acceptance of those health and safety protocols that are almost now second nature.