We just returned home from a wonderful 10 days vacation at the VIK in Punta Cana. I had read many reviews before I left, some good and some really bad... we weren't sure what to expect.
Would I go back? Yes I would! Is it a 4 star... I'd say yes it is!
If you have never been to Punta Cana let me fill you in on a few things to help you out.
When you land, the Punta Cana airport is very nice, open air and very fast service. Once you have your bags, you follow along a long hallway that has booths that represent either the vacation package you flew with (we used WestJet that was excellent) or the hotel you are staying at. You meet your guide there and they will direct you to the nice, air conditioned bus that will take you to your hotel. Ours was about 20 minutes away. There are other stops along the way at other resorts.
The VIK has a very nice lobby and check-in was easy. We arrived at noon so our room was not ready. They told us where the restaurants were, gave us our "all inclusive wrist bands" and off we went for the afternoon (you can leave your bags in the lobby). We had packed our bathing suits in our carry on, so we found a bathroom, changed and jumped in the gorgeous pool! Our room was ready at approx. 4 pm. We were in Building 5 which is ocean front rooms. These rooms were not the upgraded rooms but were comfortable and the view, you just cant beat! The room had 2 double beds and a smallish pull out couch. The mattress on the pull out was very old and gross so we pushed the 2 doubles together and my husband and I and our son all slept together which was fine.
The food is good. The first day it is a bit overwhelming. The tastes are a little different. They don't use a lot of salt so things taste different. The buffet has LOTS of choices and most are very good. Breakfast options: French toast, egg station (very good), pancakes, bacon, fruit, toast and more. No peanut butter or jam so if you have a kid that lives on peanut butter - bring some. Coffee is good and lots of self serve juice options. You eat in an open air dining room which is awesome.
Lunch you have 3 options: The buffet, the Buccaneer which is at the pool - Make your own sandwiches etc, or the Fast food station which is at the back of the Buccaneer. All day pizza (very good pizza made fresh), hot dogs, hamburgers and French fries.
For dinner we ate at the buffet all but 2 nights. There is a great variety each night. Stir Fry station, Pasta station, Meat station (usually chicken & ham), salads, potatoes (their potatoes are always amazing), fruit etc. There are 3 other restaurants at the resort: The Italian - good, we only went once. Took about 40 minutes to get our food which was pretty good. The Mexican (Buccaneer), OK, but very small portions. If you order fajitas, they are single servings. The other restaurant was very fancy and we didn't go to it. We loved the buffet. Lots of choices and you get your food right away. No waiting which was the big bonus for my 13 year old.
At the buffet for dinner you need to wear a shirt with sleeves (like a t-shirt), no muscle shirts.
At the a-la carte, you need long pants and a shirt with sleeve which is why we didn't go often...
Now you will read about the men in the white dress shirts hounding you about the time share next door. It is called the Cayena Beach Club - owned by the VIK. These guys stand each morning at the entrance and exit of the buffet and around the pool. Honestly, if you don't engage them at all and just say no thank you and keep walking, you will be fine. Stop, even for a minute and they hound you. They want to invite you to breakfast next door. After breakfast (so I hear) is when they pressure you to buy a time share. Just ignore them... they get the message.
The pool is awesome. Two very large pools. One is a quiet pool and one is more active. You don't have to get up at dawn to get a seat - there are lots! If you want the same specific seat everyday then yes, you will need to go early and save it with your towel.
You will read about the "animation team" which basically is the bunch that work at the hotel and look after the pool aerobics (twice daily), the games, beach volley ball etc. They are all very fun. However, it is all either in French or Spanish.
The beach is stunning. So tropical. White sand, blue water. You can walk for miles. If you head up the beach to the left, there are little shops right on the beach. Shirt, trinkets, painting, jewelry... no prices on anything, you need to haggle.
The drinks are good. The Buccaneer I found better than the beach bar. They have the slushy machines that are self serve. I wasn't a huge fan. In the Buccaneer (pool restaurant/bar) they make fresh blended drinks. My fav was the Banana Mama made by Pedro Julio... Please tip these guys, they don't make very much money. I gave $1 per drink. The best advice I can give you: BRING YOUR OWN DRINK CONTAINERS. The cups at the bar are small little plastic cups - kind of like a juice cup. Everyone brings their own cups - I suggest either travel coffee mugs or big plastic cups with lids and straw. Trust me, you will be sorry if you don't.
Bring enough sun screen. $30 a bottle at the small store on site.
Bring chips and chocolate if you are used to having them... very expensive in the store ($12 US for a chocolate bar!) My son was having withdrawls :-)
We didn't attend any nightly shows - they are ALL IN FRENCH and we don't speak a word. They looked fun though, especially for kids. They have ping pong, pool and fuse ball on site as well.
Wi-Fi: Don't bother buying a package from your service provider like I did. You can get 7 days of Wi-Fi for $20 US. It only works in the lobby, so each night everyone goes up for a drink or a coffee and gets on their devices. The Lobby is beautiful and usually has a nice piano player. You can also buy Wi-Fi for an hour for $3. 24 hours is $7. Three days is $10. You just go up to the desk, and they give you a print out that has a user name and password - very easy.
We did two excursions (we booked through the Hola tour rep (WestJet). My husband and son did the Dune Buggy excursion (half day). They picked the large quad type machines. Love it. We also did the Catamaran excursion to Catalini Island (full day)... amazing. You get to go snorkling (I suggest bring your own snorkles but they do provide), and then you get to spend 2 hours on the most amazing beach! Catalini island is an uninhibited island that cruise ships frequent. We had out own little private beach (not busy), where you can swim and snorkel while they make your BBQ chicken, fish and lobster tail lunch! You will dine on picnic tables with linens and wine glasses... the service was great! The other excursions include: zip lining, jeep tours, horse back riding, Segway tours, dolphin experiences and more. Our Catamaran full day tour was $139 per person and the 1/2 day off roading was $79 per person to give you an example.
Other little details:
Bring face clothes - they don't have any
Rent the safe in your room - $2 per day.
You don't need to bring beach towels - they have really nice big ones. You get fresh ones daily
Bring lots of $1 US bills. If you are like us, you end up tipping everyone. We gave the cleaning staff $3 per day and then a $20 at the end of the week. We gave the bartender $1 per drink (in our big mugs). We gave the bus driver of our tours $5 etc.... you go through a lot of one dollar bills.
If you speak French or Spanish you will be fine. The front desk staff are pretty good with English.
There really isn't any shopping near by. Other than the few shops on the beach there is nothing. The store on site has kids toys, trinkets, sun screen, beach hats, toiletries etc. All pretty expensive.
You will get 2 large bottles of water in your room daily to use for drinking and brushing your teeth. The water in the drinks and at the restaurants (and the water they clean the food with) are all purified.
The VIK is very clean, the grounds are absolutely gorgeous and everyone is friendly. I would go back again for sure. It is not a 5 star... but it is a very good 4 star and a great family type resort. Clean, no bugs and very safe.
Hope you enjoy!!
- 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