Churchill Lodge will undertake its next big international adventure this winter with a trip to the Dominican Republic, there to relax in the sun, tour the country, and exchange warm greetings with our brothers there. This is primarily a vacation, with one day devoted mostly to Masonic activity. We will assist any brothers who would like to make additional lodge visits during the trip.
At this writing, a group of ten Churchill Lodge brothers and guests are participating. Add your name to the list!
We are planning most of the trip ourselves, with the more complex arrangements assisted by Turinter, the largest travel agency in that country. They will smooth out any unexpected difficulties and manage collection of money and payment for hotels and transportation.
As you will see, the trip has been broken out into 7 and 10 day options. We tried to fit the three most compelling destination areas of the country (St. Domingo, Bayahibe-LaRomana, and Samana Peninsula) into 7 days, but it just wasn’t practical to have that many transfers in such a short period of time.
Bayahibe is the archetypical Carribbean beach destination, while Samana provides a similar beach experience with a very interesting European flair. Santo Domingo is the historical destination where we will engage with our brothers in Mt. Moriah Lodge to celebrate Carnival. We know there are a couple of people who are considering even shorter stays on the island. This is possible, although it may cause additional complexity and expense for you. The prices and arrangements quoted here are based on a minimum of 10 persons.
We anticipate the 7-day trip will cost approximately $1,500 per person, and the 10-day trip will cost approximately $2,500 per person. Prices quoted include double occupancy. Time is fleeting! RSVP with Jason Berger, now!
Come, hear all about it!
Those of us who have remained home will be able to hear all about this excellent adventure at our March 13th meeting, at WB Ted Martz’ home. Be sure to attend, and bring your guests. We make a pilgrimage like this every couple of years.
We have decided to go it on our own for the air transportation to avoid the added expense of booking through the travel agency and to allow those who have airline miles to make use of these. We strongly suggest taking the American Airlines flight specified on the spreadsheet found among the documents at the end of this article. Other flights are less expensive, but take much longer (much, much longer in some cases). If you are able to find a better deal, you will be responsible for arranging transportation, although Bob and Jason will gladly help you with this. Note that the costs indicated are for coach fare, and do not include extra charges such as tax or luggage fees.
Based on early feedback, we have selected 3 or 4 star hotels with direct beach access. Prices are for double occupancy. Only the two nights in Bayahibe are at an all-inclusive resort because that city is mainly a beach destination and this is the best option. We declined all inclusive arrangements at the other hotels partly due to cost, but mainly because we will probably be out and about and therefore would not make use of meals at the resort. Generally, all-inclusive hotels provide all meals, basic/rail drinks, and non-motorized beach activities (snorkeling, paddleboating, windsurfing, etc.).
The island at right is near Samana where our optional whale watching tour will embark.
This component is the most subject to change. It is based on a 10 person private van with our own chauffer. If we get more travelers, the cost for this will go up because a larger size vehicle will be needed. We will be sharing the expense, so it may not be a significant difference overall.
At left, a lodge hall we may visit.
All of the tours provided by Turinter are optional. We will first get commitments on the hotels and transportation. Please be pro-active on this: We will send out a more complete description of these tours to which you may respond as to which are of interest to you. These prices will seem a bit inflated, but what you are paying for is to lock things in ahead of time.
If you are willing to take the risk, we can arrange the tours and other activities as we go, with the assistance of our speaks-Spanish-like-a-native “Boberto” Davis. This trip was designed to be flexible with plenty of time for individuals to go off on their own if they would like.
Always download a new copy of the spreadsheet before you begin making decisions. We update these figures sometimes daily. If your computer cannot read an Excel (XLS file), let Jason Berger know, who will send you the informaiton in a text format.
Figures in bold on the spreadsheet are “hard” costs, meaning only that they have been pre-arranged as much as is possible this far out. Airfare and hotel will vary slightly with availability. As mentioned above, intercity transportation will go up if more than 10 sign up for the trip, although costs are divided among more people. The cost for meals is an estimate based on our experience with previous visits.
While the non-inclusive hotels will be charging $12-19 for breakfast, this can easily be had for less at a nearby cafe. (And who wouldn’t want that freedom to go native?!) Lunch will generally run $10-$15 depending on the size of the city and how close one is to the tourist zone. Dinner varies more widely at $20-$35. The primary exception to this is in the Colonial Zone of Saint Domingo, where prices are slightly higher due to the concentration of tourists.
LEGAL TENDER: We advise you to use a single credit card, and to advise your bank ahead of time of the dates of your trip, so purchases are not flagged as fraudulant. Bob or Jason will comment more about this, here, as we get closer to the trip.
Many of us are experienced travelers, and Bob lived in the DR for several years. Hence, we are shortcutting the expense of an all-inclusive tour in order to cut costs and give us more options. Interested travellers should do the following:
1. As soon as you decided to go, put down the $400 deposit via the link that will be provided, below. Your initial deposit will be refundable until approximately February 1.
2. Shortly after making the deposit, book your airfare on your own. The American Airlines flight listed with departure times on the planning spreadsheet hovers in price regularly between $590-$660.
3. Pay the remaining balance via the link by February 1. A good estimate of your ‘hard costs’ can be found by adding our current estimates from the spread sheet and subtracting airfare and deposit. We won’t know the absolute, carved in stone pricing until just shortly before 2/1, when we will list it there, awaiting your payment.
[Seriously. Look at that beach. Bob or Jason took that photo on their recon/planning trip. You can see it in person, or sit all winter and look at the snow bank. It’s your choice.]
Shortly, Turinter will set up an account for us in Miami, for receiving payment in $USD. They have asked for a down payment of $400 per person (whether you choose the 7 or 10 Day) by January 15. The remainder would be due by February 1. Changes to your arrangements will be difficult to make after the first week of February has passed. We will obtain a quote from Turinter for travel insurance as well – write to Jason if you want this. It is our understanding that the new presidential administration in the DR will be pushing through a set of reforms that are likely to cause some inflation in travel costs, so we are encouraged to book early, if possible. Reservations for hotel and transportation have already been made, and our room blocks can be changed without penalty until January 15.