I would definitely take your friend's and family's suggestions to visit Punta Cana. It is BEAUTIFUL! I've been a few times over the years, and I love it more and more. The nightlife is getting better and better, too. When I first went, there wasn't much of anything, but more and more clubs are coming in. The newest is Webster Hall-Punta Cana (they are famous in NYC). The website shows it to be quite amazing, websterhallpc.com! I think they're saying December for an opening so by your trip in January I'm sure it will be crazy. Can't wait to get back down there--maybe we'll cross paths one crazy night!