I stayed at the VIK Arena Blanca with my family of 4, and travelled with another family of 4. Age ranges for the kids were 4-7 years old. Taking the resort, cost and experience as a whole, I would return with my family.
We were able to book a great deal for this resort and so with that in mind, I would recommend it to anyone. There were hiccups with several things (service can be spotty, Kids Club was iffy, etc), but the beach was absolutely beautiful, the food was fine, and our rooms were good too (we stayed in Building 4 - a renovated building).
1 - Beach.... sigh. Absolutely gorgeous. Minimal seaweed, and just enough waves for the little ones to boogie board. Quite a bit of lounge chairs and palapas to go around. We did, however, have to drop our towels under a palapa before 8am to get one of the better spots in the front (again, travelling with young kids....). Side note: The VIK arguably has the best bit of beach for a long stretch. On our walks, we passed other resorts that had their beachfront almost completely washed away, which created a steep "hill" for guests.
2 - The Mexican restaurant (night) has the best staff and service. We visited three times, always had great meals and service, and we were recognized by members of that staff throughout the day at other parts of the resort (yes, they work long days).
3- Breakfast and lunch: For breakfast, only the buffet is open, but that is fine, as you can always find something good to eat. They change things up every day, but there are always eggs to order, pancakes, crepes, etc. We had some spotty service at breakfast to get some coffee/utensils, but usually we were taken care of. For lunch, there is a restaurant right by the pool/beach and you can eat at the buffet inside (got real boring after a couple of days: pasta, salad or panini press), but there are also pizzas, fries, burgers, hotdogs and chicken in a little snack shack attached to the lunch buffet. You can also eat at the main buffet.
4 - Photography with animals: My kids went nuts for this one. The hotel has a professional photographer on site and he brings along different animals on specific days (monkey, parrots, iguana, snake). The cost is 10$ US per picture on a disk, but if you buy several, they can make you a package deal.
5 - We booked an excursion with Hola Tours for a trip to Saona Island. To start, we took a bus ride for about 1+ hours or so, but with a guide who spoke fluent English. We then took a catamaran to a national park on a shallow beach with starfish (neat!), and then on to Saona Island. We got back to land via speed boat (the kids loved this). It was a full day trip. We left the hotel at 7:30 am, and we were back around 5pm. The Hola Tours rep, Anne, was very friendly and informative and speaks 5 languages fluently!
1 - The Italian restaurant had some of the the slowest and inattentive service I have ever experienced. We went twice; the first time at 6:30 pm, when it was relatively busy. The second time, we went at 7pm, when it was much busier.... It took 7 requests over 45 minutes (!!) to get a basket of 4 bread buns for the table (remember, we were a group of 8, travelling with 4 children under 8 - and they were hungry). The appetizers were good, the pasta dishes were fine, but we found the meat dishes to be thin and tough. It took well over an hour to get our food for the table.
2 - The free wifi in the lobby is spotty. Is that the end of the world? For us, not really, as we just wanted to check in at home once a day or so. For guests who HAVE to have Internet, this must be quite annoying. We just ordered another round of drinks, and kept trying until we were able to get on.... not the end of the world. There is, however, an Internet computer room, and you could pay for access.
3 - Animation: Well, the animation staff was on-site and doing different activities all day (by the pool with music, they also had archery, dance lessons, etc etc.) If you like to be kept busy on vacation, they was plenty of opportunity. I just wanted the beach during the day, so didn't partake, but you see the animation staff everywhere. There is a main show every night at 9:30 pm; some were entertaining, others not so much. A Kids Club employee held a Mini Disco for the kids on the theater stage every night (8:30pm), where they danced to choreographed moves. The kids enjoyed it. We didn't use the Kids Club during the day, as we wanted to keep the kids with us. The Kids Club is closed in the evening (although it would have been nice to have open hours at night, so the adults could get 1 or 2 romantic dinners...).
4 - The beds were not super comfortable, but passable. There are no elastics for the bottom bed sheets, so you do sometimes wake up in the morning with the bottom bed sheet all tangled up. Didn't like that at all.
5- Not all the staff spoke English, but we are in their country, so we did our best with our limited Spanish and many hand gestures to get our point across. Regardless, the staff all tried their best, and we were most often greeted with a smile wherever we would go. I have to agree with other reviewers that the check in staff were not very friendly or welcoming (didn't like that either!)
6 - Pool: There is only one for the whole resort, but it was big enough and never seemed overcrowded. There is no water bar in the pool. The pool was cleaned every morning, it seemed, but it is showing its wear.
1- The house wine (red and white) is awful. Truly. You can order bottles from a wine menu ($$$$), but I actually also saw guests bringing in their own wine bottles to the restaurants... something to think about if you are a big wine drinker but don't want to pay 30-45$ a bottle.
2 - The Punta Cana airport (PUJ) is a bit of a mad house. We flew with WestJet (love them), and our tourist cards and departure fees were included in the flight price (would have been 120$ for our family of 4 otherwise). Be prepared to wait in long lines upon arrival, and a long line at security upon departure.
3 - There are sellers ON the resort grounds that ask you to visit the bordering property, VIK Hotel Cayena Club. It is basically a timeshare/membership pitch. We were not interested, but they are there every day regardless. There are also a lot of sellers walking up and down the beach (cigars, jewelry, sunglasses, parasailing, etc), and they are not overly intrusive, but they are definitely there. There is a flea market south of the beach and it was so-so, but to the north, there is another market with many stalls and as long as you are willing to haggle, haggle, haggle, you can get good deals. I bought a mini-boogie board in the resort shop for 15$, only to find I could get an identical one at this market for 5$. I also got a bottle of Brugal rum for 11$, and two 1lb bags of coffee for 10$. They also had many other trinkets, artwork, souvenirs, alcohol, etc.
1 - Yes, I would suggest you lock up your luggage and anything important in your safe whenever you leave your room (the cost to rent a safe lock is 2$ US a day and well worth the added expense. Make sure to ask for this lock at check in, so you can have it for your passports, etc right away). Do I think the maids filter through your things and steal every chance they get? No, but you are travelling -- so be smart and lock up your belongings. I would suggest this anytime you travel.
2 - If you like your drinks cold (my husband was drinking beer on the beach), absolutely bring a drink cooler (ex. Bubba Keg). It is the only way to keep your drinks cool. With the plastic cups provided at the bars, drinks get hot in a matter of minutes, but you are in the Caribbean, so.....
3 - There is a money exchange on site, just across from the lobby. We exchanged our money before we left home, so I cannot attest to the rates.
4 - If you need a morning jolt of caffeine like I do, the main lobby has two coffee machines with many different selections. I would go out of my way several times a day to get this coffee (soo good). Bad side: I was there around 7:30am on two occasions, and the machines were closed. I am not sure when they are supposed to officially open, because on other days they were open at 7:30.
5 - If you or your children are prone to ear/eye infections, do yourself a favour and pack some Burosol and/or Polysporin drops - and make your kids wear goggles in the pool. Two of the 4 kids in our group got double ear infections and eye infections. I can't say if that was caused from the ocean or the pool, but it is better to be careful!
I've stayed in all-inclusives in Mexico, Dominican Republic and Cuba, ranging from 3.5 to 5 stars. The VIK Arena is noted as a 4-star, and I would say it fits that description. As long as you have reasonable expectations and you can book this at a good rate, then I would recommend to anyone.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The VIK Hotel Arena Blanca is placed overlooking the incomparable beach of Bávaro, just 30 minutes away from the International Airport of Punta Cana. This hotel in Punta Cana was renovated in 2006 to be able to offer a wide variety of environments: ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Vik Hotel Punta Cana
- Lti Beach Resort Punta Cana
- Lti Punta Cana
- Lti Resort Punta Cana
- Lti Beach Punta Cana