Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Ladies learning the "sexy dance" and cheap-liquor cocktails
It can get pretty rowdy at this 494-room hotel. "One, two, three, sexy! liquor.ensue on the word "sexy." "Otra vez!" (Again!) So begins water aerobics on the pool deck. A staff member from the entertainment team teaches bikini-clad women the "sexy dance" ( words). It’s a mellower scene the rest of the day, whenever the music isn't bumping, but that doesn't mean the bartender at the nearby drink shack stops pouring Kool-Aid-colored frozen cocktails, all mixed with bottom-shelf
Among 50-plus resorts on a giant white-sand beach
Punta Cana is commonly -- and justifiably -- said to have the finest beaches in the Caribbean. Located on the D.R.'s easternmost tip, the area is also characterized by near-perfect weather, as well as dozens of all-inclusive mega-resorts ranging from cheap to chic. (A few small intimate hotels can be found here, but the most impressive beaches were swept up by the larger resorts.) Beyond the secure gates, attractions and Dominican cultural experiences are few and far between, so guests rarely leave the tourist enclaves, where endless lip-synched Michael Jackson performances far outnumber Bachata and Merengue shows, and where guests are lucky to find a few fried plantain chips alongside buffet burgers and fries. PuntaCana Resort & Club's nature preserve and Pete Dye-designed golf course and are among the area's highlights.
Because of the resort’s shape, it has significantly more beachfront access than other all-inclusives have, especially compared to the Iberostar Dominicana. What this means is there are more lounge chairs, more space between the chairs, and generally more room to hang out on the beach.
Some are bright and contemporary; others feel old and musty
Rooms ar the VIK have been in the process of being renovated since 2009. Some of the rooms are bright and modern, with solid amenities, but others are old and musty. Be careful to specify which you're booking with the hotel. Newer rooms have received complete overhauls, with bright, modern decor, flat-screen TVs, new furniture and bedding, as well as new, spacious bathrooms that are leaps and bounds ahead of their predecessors. Old rooms have retained their thin floral bedspreads and curtains, nicked furniture, and musty smell: Try to avoid these. The balconies are a good size with pleasant views of the hotel's grounds.
The Cayena Club is a "members-only" area of the hotel that includes its own , bar, two restaurants, a small stretch of , and a with rooms that look almost identical to the standard rooms on the main property. Guests can book these rooms ahead of time (the amount for the upgrade differs seasonally). But there are also "recruiters" on-site looking to sell guests members-only upgrades. Nearly everyone complains about the annoying and aggressive sales' pitches. The upgrade is not worth it, despite what those aggrivating salesmen might say.
The casino, located behind a locked gate in an easy-to-miss area of the property that's overgrown with , comes with a few slot machines and a couple of blackjack tables.
Bare-bones kids' club with no air-conditioning, plus a small area for kids
The VIK Hotel Arena Blanca is not a well-maintained property. In peak season, the plants along the pathways were either dead or dying, ash was on the coffee tables in the lobby, ants found around several of the buffets, and cigarette butts strewn about the property (very few on the beach, however).
Rooms renovated since 2009 are clean and modern, with new amenities and bathrooms; these are quite clean. Other rooms that have yet to be renovated are old and musty.
Mirador, the VIK's buffet, is one of the worst in Punta Cana. The at lunch, for example, comes topped with watery tomato sauce or alfredo (both worse than SpaghettiOs). The salad bar consists of four salads, including one with (huh?) and another one with that remained untouched -- serving spoon in place -- throughout the entire lunch. Other options are often fried and resemble egg rolls straight out of the freezer (labeled " " and " "). The is a slight improvement -- the pasta station has more ingredients -- but the selection of potatoes and vegetables often come with a layer of grease floating on top.
For lunch, diners can also visit El Bucanero, an Argentine-style brick barbecue, or El Calypso Bar, which features quick eats such as sandwiches and chips.
For dinner, guests can also dine, without reservations, at one of four a la carte restaurants: Trattoria (Italian), La Proa (a Caribbean seafood restaurant), Estrella de Mar (serving international cuisine), and El Cano (a seafood BBQ). The spinach and ricotta at Trattoria had the dry, gritty texture of frozen spinach that's been kept too long, but it was an improvement over the glop at the buffet. But like most all-inclusive resorts in the D.R., the house red takes more like vinegar than wine. Also, note that some of these restaurants have dress codes.
While it is true that the quality of food at most Dominican all-inclusive resorts is worse than what you might get at any restaurant in the U.S., the fare at the VIK is below standards of other, similarly-priced resorts in Punta Cana.
With one of the nicest stretches of clean, powdery white sand in Punta Cana, VIK's relatively empty beach is the sole reason to come -- because its inattentive service, below-average food, dirty premises, and crumbling kids' club with no air-conditioning are certainly not strong suits. For better facilities and nicer rooms (those at VIK have been in the process of being renovated for several years now: some are clean and modern, others old and musty), head to the often less expensive Iberostar Dominicana.