After two months of scouring the internet and reading reviews, we decided on the Vista Sol Punta Cana (also known as the Carabela Resort). Although we were initially concerned after reading all the negative reviews, we decided to take the risk and it was totally, totally worth it and we absolutely loved it. We’ve been to quite a bit of all-inclusive resorts and interesting places before, but this was our first time in Punta Cana. And we were very much surprised at the cleanliness of the resort, the diligence and helpfulness of the employees, the beautiful beach, good food and great rooms. Anyways to make your life a bit easier I’ve broken down my review into sections.
Wonderful. We stayed in the 2nd building (room 2106). Upon getting the room we were concerned about the level of volume since it is soo close to the theater, buffet and disco club, but it ended up being quiet both during the day and at night. Now I’m not saying it was completely noise free at night, but usually most of the noise stopped by 10:30 after the shows ended and people dispersed. Even before then, as compared to other areas it was still relatively quiet.
As for other complexes (there are 11 of them) from what we observed and heard they were all also fairy quiet and clean. We stayed in a standard room and although we heard that some people upgraded, it’s really not worth it as the upgraded rooms don’t have hallways on the inside but instead everyone has a shared balcony, thus those rooms are nosier. And either way you only sleep in the rooms so why bother upgrading?
The rooms themselves were very clean and well kept. Every day we would have fresh towels and linens and our maid would make beautiful flower and towel decorations. Although this is a four star resort, this was something unique that we did not receive in any of the five star resorts we had stayed in. Also based on some of the pictures the furniture seems worn out, however when we actually got there, it turned out that they had special coating/burnishing to create that beachy/worn out effect and were glossed over with transparent paint. Everything is actually in very good condition and kept very clean.
The amenities are provided (we got 3-5 bars of soap, 1 shower cap and 1 sewing kit each day ). They also have shampoo in a dispenser on the wall in the bathtub and might I just say it smells magnificent The room also has a small table with chairs, a larger table with a bench and TV, a refrigerator that hides in a cabinet (we didn’t notice it at first…) with 2-4 bottles of water replenished each day, 2 sliding door closets with 10-15 hangers (soooo helpful) and then the usual beds, bathroom ect.
We didn’t have any issue with bugs/smells and we were on the first floor. Their “first floor” is actully about 1.5 meters off the ground to keep out bugs and other unwanted guests. The only thing we did encounter were some tiny sand flies, but they disappeared after the first day and never reappeared. (I’m guessing because they disinfect everything with chlorine/bleach.. which really helps). TIP: Don’t open your doors and leave them open for long periods of time as bugs and tiny lizards will find a way in. (thankfully we had no problems with this, but based on the amount of wildlife, it’s probably not a good idea to just leave the balcony open to air out the rooms).
As for the location of the rooms and complexes… there are 11 complexes total and all are within 5 minutes walking distance from the beach. They are soo close to the beach that you can see the beautiful shoreline from almost anywhere on the resort. There is one complex (the 10th) that is located directly on the beach. The complexes have 2-4 floors. Most of the standard rooms are in the 3-4 floor buildings and the ungraded/deluxe rooms are in the 2-3 floor complexes. We read some complaints about there not being enough water pressure on the top floors; however we did not encounter any problems since we were on the first floor. Also all the complexes have elevators and bellhops help bring up and take down luggage if needed.
Overall the food was good. We were always able to find something good the eat, so this is definitely a good hotel for even the pickiest eaters. Many people complained in previous reviews that they cater to Europeans, but we found that they try to cater to everyone: Americans and Europeans alike. The main restaurant was Noray’s – a buffet open for breakfast (from 7-10am), lunch (from 12-3 pm) and dinner (7-10 pm).
For breakfast they had a huge abundance of foods, delicious yogurts ( I loved they Guava fruit yogurt), fresh fruit juices ( I highly recommend the banana smoothie), eggs sun side up/omelets made to order on the main grill, pancakes (made from scratch and probably the most delicious pancakes I have ever tasted), cheeses, hams, hash-browns, bacon, freshly sliced vegetables, delicious desserts and fruits ( there was always 4 choices 2 of which were always watermelon and pineapple and they alternated with papaya, guava fruit, passion fruit, honey-dew melons, cantaloupe, mangos..).
For lunch we had a choice of attending the main buffet or the beach sports/snack bar. To be honest we only went to the lunch buffet the first two days and then we just found it easier to go the beach snack bar instead so we could stay on the beach the entire day. The main buffet had various salads, different choices of meats (always chicken, some seafood/fish, pork, sometimes beef or veal), some sort of large paella style dish, salads, desserts and freshly cut fruit and vegetables. The snack bar had typical American-style food which consisted of hot dogs, hamburgers, French fires, nachos, pizza, ice cream, slushies, fresh fruit and sometimes a few salads like those in the main buffet.
Lastly for dinner you have a choice of going to one of the three themed restaurants (Mexican, Italian or Gourmet French) or the main buffet which had themed-nights ( Asian, Dominican, Mexican.. ect). We never went to the themed restaurants and we heard mixed reviews about them. Overall we heard the French was very good and the other two really depended on you taste. Noray’s was excellent, the only problem we had was that the first day we decided to show up right at 7 and it was haywire. The hotel has a lot of Europeans, which are very friendly and warm, that is until it comes to dinner. I’m guessing most of them don’t realize that you can eat more than 3 times per day and so they don’t eat from 3 to 7 and all show up at 7 to eat. TIP: Don’t starve yourself.. you can eat as much as you want and also the snack bar on the beach is open from 10-6, so you can eat even after lunch is over. We would eat like 5-6 times a day.. I mean it is all-inclusive and free food :D TIP #2 – Don’t show up at 7pm for dinner… its impossible to find a table to sit at and they are constantly running out of plates and utensils. We would show up at 7:30 or 8 and there would be plenty of tables and plates/utensils. Also for those of you who worry that the food will run out.. it won’t because they always replenish it. Dinner was super delicious with plenty of variety, freshly baked bread, salads, guacamole, freshly cut fruits and vegetables, 3-4 meat stations (one station always had someone carving duck, fish, turkey, beef, steak or pork) and delicious deserts and ice cream. TIP: The deserts have little parfaits which most think are decorations, but you can actually eat them and they are delicious :D
As for the drinks they always have juices and pop (Pepsi, 7up, Fanta, Coca Cola…) and alcoholic beverages. We don’t drink.. so we cannot really say anything about the beer and wines, but it seems everyone enjoyed them. There are multiple bars all over, so you can definitely get drinks practically anywhere.
There are 3 pools, 2 of which have Jacuzzis and one of which is the animation/main pool where they hold events. They are all very clean and no overly chlorinated. We didn’t actually use them though because we went on vacation to swim in the ocean, not in chlorine… . But they are nice pools if you don’t like the ocean/waves and prefer to swim in calmer water.
Very helpful and diligent in their work. Angel at the front desk was great He speaks 3 languages (English, Russian and Spanish), so if you need help ask him. Besides the receptionists, most of the staff speaks very minimal English… so it might not be a bad idea to brush up on a few Spanish phrases. The staff really appreciates when you take the time to learn their language, as they have ours. We really had no problems communicating, although my daughters are taking Spanish, so that did help. A lot of Spanish words are similar to English so even without them, we probably would have been able to communicate. And if all else fails, the front desk employees all speak English and are super helpful. Here are some helpful phrases you might want to learn however:
• Hello - Hola
• Thank you - Gracias-
• Please… - por favor
• Beach – playa
• Room- habitacion (H is not pronounced)
• Thank you for cleaning our room. – gracias por limpiando nuestro habitacion.
• Eggs –huevos (nice for the grill station in the morning…)
• Well-done eggs – huevos bien fritos (it depends what kind of eggs you like, but they automatically leave some of the whites semi-liquidy unless you tell them otherwise)
• How much does it cost? – Cuanto cuestan?
• Cheaper – mas barato(s)
Gorgous! White coral sand and beautiful aqua waters <3 The Vista Sol is one of the original hotels in Punta Cana, thus they have the best beach. Their beach is also very unique because they are the only beach with tropical pine trees mixed in with palm trees from inland. For those of you worrying about sharp needles, the needles are actually very different from those we are used to… very long, soft and bendable. There are occasional pine cones, but they too are different – much smaller. The beach has semi-shade… there is absolute shade in some places, but most have at least some sun. If you prefer to lay in the sun, there is plenty of open sun closer to the water and plenty of shade a little further from the water for those who like shade. We know that we some hotels there is a “towel” game where people reserve beach chairs/ lunge chairs early in the morning. Here in Vista Sol, there are plenty of chairs and typically you can get lunge chairs up to 9am… after its quite difficult. We would still recommend reserving chairs with towels because they you can also reserve a certain shady or sunny spot (as those go pretty fast).
The beach itself is very clean… the staff always clean the beach of debris and seaweed. The water itself is very warm (we went in late March) and moderately calm. The calmness of the water really depends on the wind. The first day, it was quite rough, but the rest of our stay it was very calm. Its good for families with children, but still you may want to keep an eye on your little one as the waves near the shore are quite large (the depth may go from your ankle to your knee in less than 10 seconds). Further out however, the depth doesn’t change as much and the water is much calmer. We visited a few other hotels and it seems the Vista Sol has the calmest waters. TIP: It might be a good idea to wear tighter swim suits as there are sea lice (baby jellyfish) that may be found in the waters during May, June and July. Thankfully we did not encounter them… but be warned because they love the waters of the Caribbean.
TIP: Bring lots and lots of sunscreen and reapply throughout the day. Remember that even if your sunscreen is waterproof it will still need reapplying. The first day I went swimming and didn’t reapply and I had a very oddly shaped burn on my shoulders from where the sunscreen must have rubbed off because of the waves. So moral of the story, if you want an even tan, keep reapplying and working in the sunscreen. Also don’t apply it on the beach as you get sand everywhere and then it itches and well…. When it itches it burns and when it burns it itches…. What we did is we applied it in our hotel room and walked in our swimsuits down to the beach. Don’t worry about walking around in your swimsuits as everyone does this.
Towels – you have towel cards that you will receive upon checking in. Our flight was a bit later so we waited till 5 to go get towels on the first day and they had none. Most people get them in the morning (they open around 9 am) and then keep them overnight, exchanging them for new ones the following morning. TIP: bring a colorful beach towel from home, so you can distinguish your beach spot from others… all the resort towels are blue and unless you bring a towel or purse or bag no one knows who reserved which lunge chairs.
There is a fun kids club for the little ones ( up to 12 years old) where they make arts and crafts, play volleyball and watch movies. Additionally they have tons of entertainment for adults from yoga to darts to volleyball, the Olympics and much more. These events are held from 9am to 5pm, so you will never be bored. Like entertainment teams from other resorts they can be a bit persistent, however they typically leave you alone. TIP: It is super noisy by the animation station, so it’s a good idea to reserve beach spots on the right side of the beach if you do not want to participate in the entertainment activities. There are also certain water sports and free scuba diving lessons included in the hotel fee. The only down side was that there isn’t a lot of entertainment for teens… many participate in the adult events, but the events are more geared for adults. My daughters did however participate and had lots of fun.
We did not visit the nightly entertainment shows, but from what we heard they were pretty good… similar to all the all-inclusive resort shows. They also had a little min-disco for the little ones which was adorable to watch.
There is also free-wifi in the theater… with the password of 1234 (if you forget its written on a sign in the lobby). Wifi is a bit slow, however but when there is less people during the day its better.
Tours/Things to Do Outside Resort:
Many, many things to do outside the resort… we just didn’t go on them this year… maybe next year. There are a ton of people walking around the beach offering parasailing adventures, glass bottom boat tours, Saona island tours, Punta Cana Adventure Land tickets, Mall trips, city tours ect…
They have beautiful gardens all over the resort, which are just gorgeous… truly make you feel like you are living in paradise.
Airport- if you are from America you are in for a surprise. In Punta Cana they don’t have those long corridors you walk through when you get off the plain. Instead you walk down a later like many celebrities and the president do here in the US. Makes you feel famous Also the airport is made from brick walls and straw roofs… probably to keep it cooler. Oh and you get on the plane also through a later outside. Speaking of departure.. the first “security checkpoint” is actually not a security checkpoint. It’s a photo company that has these two girls dressed in traditional dress who line you up an take a picture with you that you can later purchase. (we actually thought they were taking pictures to keep a tab on all who exited the airport, but turns out its just to sell pictures).
Russians – yes there are a lot of them, but there are also a tone of Germans and other nationalities… most of them mainly keep to themselves and they really aren’t as rude as they are made out to be. Seem to be quite similar to us actually. (probably because most of the Europeans there are from fairly well-to do families as this is an expensive trip .. and tend to act perfectly fine).
TIP: if you have long hair… we recommend you mostly keep it tied up because your hair will become super thick and frizzy an become impossible to comb because of the high humidity.
Climate: The climate is unique in that its mostly sunny year round (except form late April and May which is rainy season), but there are tropical rains every night, so in the morning everything is moist.
Shopping: You can go to the Main Punta Cana shopping center or just walk down the beach… there are tons of vendors and you can usually get the price down a few bucks. Also we recommend not exchanging into the peso currency, because if you do they might try to rip you off.
Overall we loved it and will definitely be coming back sometime in the future. We highly recommend this wonderful hotel to everyone :D
Rooms away from the theater are generally quieter. The best floors are the 1st and 2nd floors as we...
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.