My DH and I spent 9 days at Vik Cayena Beach from November 26 – December 3. This was our third trip to the DR and our second to Punta Cana. We won our stay on Skyauction. First off, Cayena Beach is a separate area of the Vik Complex. It’s primarily for owners of the condos, but once in a while, Skyauction offers stays at Cayena Beach and Arena Blanca.
We’d booked our transfers from Conexion. I liked that Mandy, the manager was clear in her instructions, understood that we wanted to have the entire van to ourselves and it was simple to book with them. Cost for a pick up and return to the airport was $80. You pay in cash on arrival, another reason I liked Conexion. Our driver was waiting as soon as we walked out of the airport and he had our name on a nice big sign. We were on our way in a couple minutes. Going back our driver was right on time. We tipped him nicely.
On arrival, you will see the Vik Arena Blanca reception area. Don’t be alarmed, you are where you’re supposed to be! Your van/taxi will drop you off at Arena Blanca and you will then be escorted to the vacation club reception near the rear of the property. After a cool punch, we were advised that if we wanted lunch we would need to hot-foot it over to one of the restaurants, and then we could do our welcome orientation.
Our first stop was the buffet, but we were not impressed at that first meal. I will confess that I am very sensitive to smells, and there were lots at the buffet. We skipped the buffet and eventually wound our way over to El Cano – the private restaurant for Cayena Beach Club guests. My DH had spaghetti with meat sauce which he raved about, along with a burger and fries. I had the ribs (which were tender), fruit and dessert. Even though we arrived really late for lunch, staff still took our order and fed us.
We have simple needs, so when we booked with Skyauction we requested a room on the first or second floor (we got the first floor), a king bed (we did not get) and a fridge for meds (we got it). As an FYI – the resort only has about 4 or 5 rooms with king beds and I’m assuming they go to owners, so your chances are slim of getting one if you go discounted (like we did on Skyauction). I doubt anyone would pick Cayena Beach for their honeymoon, but just in case, unless you want to deal with two beds, buyer beware.
What we liked:
The staff are just wonderful and aim to please. Everyone greets you with a smile and an “hola”. I speak Spanish (and look Dominican) so I was able to communicate fine and confuse people, although, all staff speak some English. Waiters Bienvenido and Rudolpho were especially nice to us. Having been to islands where people have been unfriendly, it was a refreshing change and a reminder that Punta Cana is as lovely as it was 16 years ago when we first visited.
The suites are spacious – we had a separate seating area, wall-mounted TV with several English channels, spacious closet, private patio with bench, private grassy patio in the back with a nice view of the garden. Our suite was spotless. Our maid for most of our stay was Lucy, who did a great job.
We received water and replacement sodas daily. We used the bottled water to brush our teeth as well as for drinking.
The room safe was a reasonable size and was coded. It couldn’t fit our laptop (we took bag locks just in case) but it fit lots – jewelry, DVD player, 2 cameras, wallets, travel docs, Nook, Kindle Fire, etc.
Gorgeous foliage and well-maintained surroundings.
Food was good at most meals. My DH is a challenge with food but even he found something to like at the buffet at each meal. For me, as long as there was fruit, rice & beans and a meat for lunch or dinner, I was fine. For breakfast, I loved crepes, bacon, croissants and fruit. Because the buffet was perfectly adequate we only ate at the a la Carte’s once – at El Cano, on the day we arrived.
We loved having the private section of beach. It made a difference to our enjoying the beach each day. On the first couple days there was no problem walking out after 10 to find a shaded palapa. However, there were interlopers (from Arena Blanca) a couple days and as the week wore on, palapas were “reserved” with towels by 8 am, so we joined the bunch. Our first couple days were fine, but on our 3rd day we arrived and every palapa was taken. We came to realize that two ladies with Arena Blanca bands were enjoying a palapa while we sat in the sun. A quick conversation with the guard and they were on their way to the Arena Blanca side. A couple days I (and an owner) had to send some people on their way who were poaching and they knew it. There were signs in 4 languages that stated they shouldn’t be there because the palapas were for Cayena Beach Club guests. We found that the guard seemed hesitant to step in and ask people to move (their blue bands and towels identified them as Arena Blanca guests) unless something was said to him by a Cayena Beach guest.
We loved being able to have professional pictures done. We had pictures taken with the parrots on the beach (they also do pics with a monkey, iguana and snake) and then a private photo shoot before we left. Our photographer (Angel) was wonderful and so easy going. DH and I had a meltdown (he hates taking pictures) and Angel took it in stride and made us look great! If this is of interest to you, remember to take some dinero with you for pictures.
The beach was just lovely. Near the end of the week there was a lot of seaweed, but there was a crew that walked along the entire beach removing seaweed at least twice per day – around 7 am and in the afternoon.
The Cayena units have good sound proofing. We never heard our next door neighbors and we only heard our upstairs neighbors when they flushed the toilet or showered for the most part.
We loved our little grassed backyard. It was shady, private and well-landscaped.
Cayena has a nice location on the beach - you can walk in either direction for a nice, long walk.
What we did not like:
We could never seem to find the “towel guy” to get towels changed. In fact, while we were there, there was a “towel audit” where everyone had to turn in their towels. It was amusing to realize that DH and I received two towel cards, yet there were several people who had 3 or 4 towels when clearly there were only two of them staying at the property. What’s up with that?
The guard seemed hesitant to send interlopers packing. I paid extra to get a private beach and I didn’t appreciate others who didn’t do so, grabbing palapas when they shouldn’t, and then having the gall to take off their tops! That took some cojones IMHO.
Some of the guests (from a certain part of the world) were very rude at the buffet. They would cut in front of you or reach over you when you were serving yourself. BTW, I knew where they were from because of the languages they spoke.
The beach loungers at Cayena Beach are a bit tired. Several had no suspension in the middle and several had the back incline broken. I spoke to an owner who mentioned that owners have been promised new loungers for sometime but so far, none had been provided. We saw some newer looking chairs further down the beach, so I'm not sure if those are the new arrivals that haven't yet been moved into place. While we were there palapas in the Cayena Beach area were broken down and re-constructed. Palapas were also being repaired around the pool area at Arena Blanca. It would be nice if the loungers at Cayena Beach were a different color from that at Arena Blanca.
Before arrival we contacted Cayena Beach by several methods to ensure they had our room request since we needed a first floor room for a specific reason (there are 3 floors). I first emailed the Club Manager and never received a response. So I emailed her again and received nada. So I faxed a request in both English and Spanish and hearing nothing, I finally made a phone call directly to the resort. I finally spoke to Manuel who assured me that our request was noted. Why the Club Manager (who spoke English, since we ran into her while we were there) never took the time to acknowledge the requests is beyond me and a sign of bad customer service IMHO.
The nightly entertainment was a bit lame. If that's important to you, then I'd suggest going elsewhere.
For the first time in many trips using Skyauction, on arrival we were "encouraged" to meet to discuss a timeshare. Initially we politely said no, then we were offered free tee shirts (as if!), then they tried a divide-and-conquer by asking me separately from my husband. I guess they didn't get the message that of the two of us, I'm the most likely to say a big fat "no" and mean it! Anyway, we must have been designated the "tough sell" of the week and they gave up. Ironically, we'd already decided by then that we would visit Cayena again, but already knew that it would be most cost-effective (and flexible) to do so via Skyauction. Why buy something when you can rent for way less, KWIM?
For the reason noted above we never attended any of the manager's receptions/cocktail parties. We felt it was likely an opportunity to pitch a timeshare purchase. On Monday night it's held at El Cano. On Friday afternoon it was at El Bucanero. We don't do business on vacation, so we skipped it.
We're not pool people so we can't speak to the pools much but Cayena Beach has a small pool with good (if limited) seating and shade and Arena Blanca had a few pools that seemed well cared for.
Cayena Beach has Wireless despite what I was told on a phone call to the resort. However, (and this is a big proviso) - it depends on when you use it (very late at night or very early in the morning is great) and where your unit is located. The closer you are to reception area, the better your wireless reception.
We flew American Airlines and were able to print our boarding passes from the reception area by emailing to the Cayena mailbox. The airport staff seemed confused by the printed passes because at boarding time the first staff member said to me, "where's your boarding pass?" when presented with the printout. I politely pointed out that she already had a boarding pass in her hand. When it was time to go up the stairs to the plane, once again a staffer seemed confused by the printed pass I gave him. My advice: it might save you some angst if you just pick up your boarding pass at the airport.
As I mentioned, we liked Cayena Beach enough that we definitely plan on going back in 2012. I can count on one hand the resorts we've visited twice in our travels, so Cayena Beach is in limited company.
All told, if you can get a good deal, you love the beach, you don't sweat the small stuff, love buffets and are not looking for the high-end amenities you are likely to get in the resort behemoths down the beach, then Cayena Beach will most likely fit the bill.
We wish you safe and happy travels. Feel free to email me with specific questions.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Standing next to the VIK Hotel Arena Blanca, this hotel enjoys an outstanding location overlooking the beach of Bávaro. The Hotel Cayena Beach is an exclusive part of the complex, designed with the most discerning guests, like you, in mind ... more less
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