An Afternoon at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

At the end of April, my family went to Wilmington, North Carolina for my cousin Caroline’s wedding — and we had the best time. I’ve been to Wilmington twice now, both for weddings, and I would love to visit again when I have more time to explore. It is such a beautiful port city, with lots of great restaurants, beautiful architecture, rich history, and plenty of waterfront views.

To get ahead of the terrible traffic on I-95, my sisters and I drove to the Richmond area on a Thursday night after work and stayed at a hotel right off the highway. On Friday morning, we got up, grabbed Chick Fil A, and hit the road to arrive to the Wilmington area by lunch. Because we didn’t have any plans until Friday evening, we decided to head straight to Wrightsville Beach to spend the afternoon — and I am so glad we did as we had the best time.

You know those days or moments or experiences where you go in with absolutely no expectations, and walk away with a new favorite memory? That’s exactly how this afternoon in Wrightsville Beach was because, other than knowing we wanted to have lunch in town, we went in with no plan. We hadn’t looked up the restaurant menu, we hadn’t extensively Googled the destination – we just wanted to enjoy a few hours of time at the beach before checking into our hotel and figured we would just see where the day would take us.

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Five Days at Sanctuary Cap Cana

Earlier this year, my sisters and I spent an amazing five days at Sanctuary Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic. This is truly one of the best trips I have ever been on — and we almost didn’t make it because of flight delays! We had to run through the Fort Lauderdale airport to make our connection, and I am forever thankful for Southwest to holding the plane because there were essentially no backup options if we didn’t make it.

From the moment we arrived to the Dominican Republic to the moment we left, everyone was so hospitable and went above and beyond to make our stay incredible. Unlike most of my travel recaps, I am going to keep this one sort and sweet — while many of my trips are go-go-go, on this one, we truly were on no time table and spent most of our days drinking cocktails by the pool. As such, here are the top few things I wanted to share about our time in Cap Cana:

Book ground transportation before you arrive —

While there are plenty of car service options at the airport, it’s very overwhelming as all the salespeople flock to you to offer you a ride. I was glad we had our transportation set up ahead of time. We used Transekur and they were awesome — we rode in luxury black SUVs and the drivers were on-time and gave us such a great overview of the history of Punta Cana.

Why we picked Sanctuary Cap Cana —

When we were looking to book a Caribbean trip, we initially looked at Mexico, Turks & Caicos, and the Bahamas, but ultimately decided on the Dominican Republic since the flights from the DC area were the most convenient and affordable. Once we decided on location, we began exploring all-inclusive options. The last time I was in Punta Cana, we stayed at the Melia, which I liked, but I knew I wanted to try out another resort. (I have a hard time going to the same place twice!)

As a Marriott loyalist, I checked to see if they had any options, which is how I came across Sanctuary Cap Cana, which is a part of their Luxury Collection. When I went to Hawaii last year, we stayed at a Luxury Collection property and it was amazing, so I was immediately sold when I came across Sanctuary Cap Cana. We were able to book a junior suite with an ocean view for about $250/per person per night – which was an incredible deal given that price included not only the room, but all food, drink, and access to the resort’s beautiful amenities — including six pools — and beach. It was worth every penny.

While we weren’t specifically looking for an adults-only resort, it made for a really relaxing trip – I love children, but it was really nice to have the beach, pools, and restaurants more geared towards the type of girls trip we were looking to have.

What made this trip so special —

Hands down, what made this trip stand out above others was the staff at Sanctuary Cap Cana. Everyone was so nice, hardworking, and went above and beyond to anticipate and meet our needs so that we could have a truly relaxing vacation. We’ve been home for two months, and we still talk about all our amigos and amigas — the bartenders at the pool, to Felix who taught our poolside salsa and Zumba classes, to the nighttime entertainment team who made sure we had fun at the “club” and Saturday night beach party. They often work 12+ hour days and spend several weeks away from their families at a time, and their effort certainly didn’t go unnoticed by us. We took ~$300 in $1s and $5s to tip the staff while we were there, and made sure to tip generously.

To exemplify how awesome the staff was, Jennifer loves telling the story about how the first full day at the resort, we showed up on the later side to the pool — Manuel found us pool chairs immediately, and when I asked for an umbrella, he had one over to me within 15 minutes. It was delivered at the exact same time as Reyna delivered my poolside mimosa — which Jennifer said made me look like a queen, hah!

Our favorite restaurants on-property —

If you’ve never been to an all-inclusive, it is such a treat because there’s no worrying about money or transactions at each meal — you’ve already paid for everything upfront. For breakfast, we loved taking advantage of the 24-hour room service and ordering to our room — our food took about 45-60 minutes to arrive, but it was totally worth it to enjoy mimosas and a delicious spread overlooking the ocean. On the days we didn’t order room service, we went to the buffet, which was located right across from the main pool. There was everything you could have imagined — a make-your-own omelette station, smoothie bar, the breakfast classics, fresh fruit, and even a whole cheese station!

For lunch, we ate at the poolside grill, which was located right off the beach and main pool. They had made-to-order burgers + fries, pulled chicken sandwiches nachos, and tacos. My “cheeseburger in paradise” everyday for lunch was certainly a highlight of our trip!

For dinner, we ate a variety of the restaurants on-property, which you can secure reservations for prior to your arrival by emailing the concierge or upon checkin. The first night, we ate at the Blue Marlin, which does not require a reservation. It’s a seafood-focused restaurant right on the ocean — the location was unbeatable and I would definitely recommend eating there for that. The food was average, but this is the type of place you go for the views. Another night, we went to Wok as we had a reservation for their Teppanyaki table, which was a fun dining experience where we had a private chef cooking our entree right in front of us. There’s also an a la carte menu that doesn’t require a reservation, but the Teppanyaki experience was a highlight, so I’d recommend securing a reservation! For two of the nights, we went over to Sanctuary Town, a fun dining area that has additional dining options and themed bars — we were big fans of the pizza place and the ice cream shop. No reservations were required, and it was part of our all-inclusive experience.


My sisters and I have been home from this trip for two months, and still talk about it frequently. If you’re looking for an amazing resort, book Sanctuary Cap Cana — I cannot recommend it enough and would jump at the chance to go back! It’s a gorgeous property that offers incredible hospitality. Below are my favorite pictures from our vacation — hasta luego, Dominican Republic! x Read more “Five Days at Sanctuary Cap Cana”


On My Nightstand: Winter 2023

Happy April! I’m back with the books I read in Q1 this year (January, February, March) and there were a lot of good ones that made their way to my nightstand. Over the past several months, I read 22 books. The reading goal I set for myself at the start of the year was 75 books, so unless things go totally awry, I’m pretty on track. (You can view my tips for reading often here.)

Before I recap all the books I read recently, I wanted to remind you of my book rating system:

  • Five Stars: an amazing book I could not put down and/or stop thinking about once I finished it; would highly recommend reading it!
  • Four Stars: a great book that stands out above your average read that I would highly recommend reading.
  • Three Stars: an average book that I generally enjoyed, but if you asked me for a book recommendation, I’d probably recommend another title first.
  • Two Stars: a terrible book that was hard to finish; I would not recommend reading it.
  • One Star: a book that was among the worst I’ve ever read. You probably won’t see too many of these because I usually DNF (do not finish) these books and don’t count them towards my yearly reading goal.

I keep track of everything I read in real-time over on Goodreads and via my Instagram Stories if you don’t want to wait for these quarterly book roundups.

As is custom on these posts, I wanted to call out that I’m part of a program where Random House will send me some of their new titles each month. I’m under no obligation to post about any titles I receive, so I really can tell you my own opinion (good or bad!) about them. I’ve starred the books Random House sent me for free below. I’m so lucky to be sent books and am really grateful for the opportunity to partner with Random House in this way. And, as always, you can follow along with what I am reading in real time over on Goodreads.

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