Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
There are a few families here and there -- but above all, Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach is a young European party resort. Thumping dance music can be heard nightly, even from inside the oceanfront bungalow rooms. The bass-heavy songs drift over from the main bar, La Placita, where a live band plays to young Italians salsa-dancing in sexy skirts and heels. By day, they move to salsa-dancing in string bikinis by the pool and enthusiastic games of beach volleyball.
Like its sister property, the slightly more upscale 330-room Viva Wyndham Dominicus Palace, this Viva is noticeably sexier than most resorts in the D.R. You’re likely to spot young Italians salsa-dancing in string bikinis (the Viva Wyndham is an Italian company, and about 80 percent of its guests are Italian). Dominicus Beach attracts younger couples, and the Palace is a bit quieter and pulls in more families. A long, winding footpath connects both resorts and leads to the center of the action -- Dominicus Beach’s central bar, La Placita. Here, guests take a break from the beach with all-day cappuccinos.
The beach is a visual stunner -- 1,500 feet of white sand dotted with coral-rock formations. Guests at Dominicus Beach can book an oceanfront bungalow, the only rooms in the Viva Wyndham property directly on the beach (Dominicus Palace has rooms near the beach, but none right on it). The extensive shoreline is home to four restaurants, three pools, and a gigantic trapeze -- almost all of which is on the resort's property, making it a more popular hangout.
Small town with nothing but resorts that's a 90-minute taxi ride from the nearest international airport.
Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach is just east of Bayahibe, in an area called . The area is home to five other all-inclusives, a small shopping plaza with arts and crafts stores, a cigar bar, banks, and car-rental offices -- nothing else.
While there’s not much in the town of Bayahibe itself, it’s a good outpost for access to the beaches, caves, and dive sites of Parque Nacional del Este, and the beaches are calm and beautiful. For dining outside the resort, it’s a 40-minute taxi ride to the beautiful , a series of shops and restaurants inside an exact replica of a 16th century Italian village. There’s not much to see in La Romana, but an excursion to Altos de Chavon is a must. Dinner at is an excellent choice.
Calmest waves and softest sand, among the best in the D.R. There’s plenty of lounge chairs, lovely , and no vendors hassling guests.
The beach is visually stunning, and the resort clears the main swimming area of most coral rocks. Also, the water is so clear that you can see the seabed, so it’s easy to navigate around the occasional rock. Only the far-right area near La Roca Grill and the canopy beds is unsuitable for swimming. That’s when the beach turns into all-rock with no sand.
The resort is located in Bayahibe, which is situated directly on the calmer, clearer Caribbean Sea, rather than the Atlantic Ocean, as is the case in Punta Cana.The sand here is powdery soft, and a coral rock formation helps keep the waves calm so parents don’t have to worry about young swimmers. Plus, like most resorts, there’s a lifeguard on duty during the high season (from mid-December to mid-April).
Beyond the beach, there’s a paved pedestrian walkway that stretches the length of both Viva resorts, and makes for a very pleasant stroll or morning jog.
There are no local peddlers or vendors on the Wyndham’s beach, unlike at the Juan Dolio resorts Barcelo Capella and Costa Coral Caribe. The hotel does not allow for out-of-resort promotions on the beach, and they are sticklers with keeping to this rule. Security does all they can to keep that business off resort grounds. Guests will be able to walk the full resort beach strip and not get ambushed by a man selling cigars or hand-carved masks -- making it much easier to relax here than at other resorts.
There are ample activities, like darts, bocce ball, Spanish lessons, and bingo, plus some racy adult games like the beachside "Love Game" (also called "Kama Sutra"), in which couples form several suggestive positions and race to break a balloon (this may be a bit much at 10 a.m.). Given that most of the guests are Italian, the resort imports several entertainment staff members from Italy, in addition to the Dominican team.
There are four pools on the Viva Wyndham property, two at the Beach side of the resort, two at the Palace side of the resort (though all guests have access to the features at both resorts). The Dominicus Beach pool near La Roca Grill is definitely the best-looking one, beautiful and clean with billowing white canopy beds sandwiched between it and the rocky shore. Away from the swimming part of the beach and most guests, the atmosphere here is very quiet and serene -- even with the addition of a kiddie pool.
Other pools were not as well-maintained as that one with leaves and debris floating in the one near the resort's main bar, La Placita. While it was situated in a much more populated area -- smack in the center of the resort next to La Placita and en route to the lobby -- other pools generate more guests.
Dominicus Beach is home to more young partying couples than extended families (families generally prefer the Beach’s sister, the Palace resort). Still, the resort boasts plenty of family-friendly features. can accommodate cribs (available for free upon request), and three of the four room types have the option of two queen-size beds or one king-size bed.
Parents with young children and strollers will find Viva Wyndham Beach and Palace easy to navigate, with well-paved pedestrian footpaths. Most of the rooms, however, are in three-story buildings, and there are no elevators. Therefore, parents might want to request a room on the first floor or reserve a bungalow.
Late-night theater performances translated into Italian, Spanish, German, and English. Plus weekly trips to a local club.and
There is more participation in group activities and evening events here than at any other resort in the D.R. Attractive young couples in Speedos and bikinis jump up to join in merengue and salsa lessons. A daily circle of enthusiastic participants gathered near the beach entrance.
At a well-attended Moulin Rouge, complete with the staff’s own Christina Aguilera and Lil’ Kim performing “Lady Marmalade”. Every night after the theater, the crowd moved into themed dancing fiestas by La Placita bar.performance, the impressively costumed animation team did their own play on the movie
Once a week, the staff actually transports guests off the property to a local club -- and pays for the transportation. For those who want to stay on the premises, there’s always the local, open every night.
Guests have access to seven restaurants, including five à la cartes.
Guests have access to seven restaurants, including five à la cartes. The central buffet, La Terraza, is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and keeps fairly good hours. The best food is at La Pizzeria, an all-night pizzeria that serves pizza from a wood-burning stove. [La Rocca Grill]], the Mediterranean à la carte, is a stunning set-up of white Balinese beds and open-air seating along the beach. Viva Mexico, in a plaza adjoining the all-night pizzeria, offers every diner Tequila Sunrises. Atlantis offers fine dining, and starts off guests night with a complimentary glass of champagne.
The La Placita bar) has pizza and hand-size sandwiches for kids and hungry adults to munch on till dinner.snack bar (directly adjacent to the
Extensive selection of cocktails made with , but the Dominicus Palace bar's free drinks have mid-range booze.
An extensive binder of cocktails rests on most bar tables at Viva Wyndham, allowing guests to flip through and examine the options. The usual list of margaritas and daiquiris are supplemented by more grandiose, punch-based cocktails like the Mai Tai, Planter's Punch, and Singapore Sling. There’s also an impressive range of college-kid staples like Long Island Iced Teas and Fuzzy Navels, as well as classics like Salty Dogs, Manhattans, and Cosmos. Granted, some cocktails are better executed than others -- the margarita was fine, but the Tequila Sunrise tasted artificially sweet.
All bars make drinks with generic-brand liquor, except for the lobby bar at Dominicus Palace. From a smoked-glass shelf, the bartender here pulled off Jose Cuervo and other mid-range booze to make the margaritas and excellent caipirinhas. This is by far the best bar, even though the bartender didn't have a blender and thus was restricted to only making shaken drinks. A whole afternoon can easily be whiled away here, ordering up cocktails to be enjoyed on the extravagant wood-framed Empress bed.
Dominican and Italian culture does share one love, and that is of coffee. A well-equippedis at nearly every bar at the resorts.
Only a few rooms have been renovated.
Dominicus Beach offers four types of rooms: standard rooms, superior rooms, garden bungalows, and oceanfront bungalows. All rooms are constructed along the shoreline, rather than stretching back from the beach like many of the newer resorts. This means that all rooms are generally only a minute or two from the beach. But at 288 square feet, standard rooms feel tight, especially for the Caribbean.
The standard and superior rooms all face the interior garden (though they all have full-size in their bathrooms). The bungalows are thatched-roof structures made of coral stone, and come with either an ocean or garden view (but no bathtubs, just showers). For an upgrade, the oceanfront bungalows are well worth it. They're right on the beach, so guests can walk out their door and into the sand in seconds, and fall asleep to the sound of the waves. Though there might be a bit of noise when the resort hosts beachside entertainment, the soft salsa music is rarely an issue.
All rooms have been renovated since Oyster's visit, featuring stylish streamlined design, with a mostly off-white color palette. Pops of light green and dark brown from the linens and furniture are the only colors in the rooms, which feature flat-screen televisions and a coffeemaker. The overall effect is clean and airy.
Quality food, oceanfront bungalows, free trapeze lessons, and beachside canopy beds make this 600-room resort an excellent value. There are some minor cleanliness issues, like debris in the pool, but the beach has some of the softest sand and clearest water in the D.R. (though there are the occasional coral rocks).