Viva Wyndham Dominicus Palace Resort Rating: 3.5 Pearls
La Romana, Dominican Republic

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Superb, soft-sand beach with calm water -- one of the D.R.’s best
  • Private beach, no solicitation from local vendors
  • Quality, wood-oven pizza -- among the D.R.'s best
  • Stylish, basic rooms feature flat-screen TVs
  • Free trapeze lessons on-site
  • Free rock-climbing wall on-site
  • 15-minute taxi from La Romana Airport
  • Free Wi-Fi in public areas (fees apply for in-room access)

Cons

  • Pools are smaller than at most all-inclusives
  • Only generic-brand liquor available at most bars
  • Small, windowless fitness center
  • Fee for Wi-Fi in guestrooms (free in public areas)

Bottom Line

Viva's beach has some of the softest sand and calmest water in the D.R., and it's clearly the main draw at this Italian-owned, Italian-focused, 330-room resort. The rooms are basic but stylish, while the food and activities are a notch above. But seriously, the beach is reason enough to head to this all-inclusive.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

The beach is beautiful, the mainly Italian crowd is beautiful, even the pizza is beautiful.

Beach games
Beach games

Home to one of the D.R.’s most beautiful beaches (located on its sister property, Viva Wyndham Beach), Viva Wyndham Palace naturally looks the way other resorts strive to appear in getaway catalogs. The pool scene during the daytime is a little bit less wild than at most all-inclusives. Here, most guests spend their time lounging, relaxing, and reading a book.

An Italian resort chain (with about 80 percent of the guests from Italy, the rest are mostly European), this Wyndham attracts a noticeably sexier crowd than most Dominican resorts. Women in airy tunics over tasteful demi-thong bikinis, bronzed men in Speedos, and cheery children make their way down to the beach.

Though Italian vacationers dominate, Viva Wyndham is very much aware -- sometimes self-consciously -- that they are a multilingual resort. Nearly every sign is written in multiple languages. The "Watch Your Step" sign on one of the stairwells, for example, is written in Spanish, Italian, French, English, and German.

Rooms, renovated since Oyster's visit, are stylish but basic, featuring a crisp color palate of whites, browns, and lime greens. The aesthetic is streamlined and refreshing, and the amenities, including flat-screen TVs, are solid.

 Location

A 15-minute taxi ride from La Romana Airport, in a small area populated by resorts, and not much else.

Though close to La Romana Airport, this airport mostly serves domestic flights. The closest airport hub is in Punta Cana, about an hour and 20 minutes away (a rather pricey cab ride). Most guests spring for the connecting puddle jumper and go straight to La Romana.

The resort is situated in Bayahibe, a village 25 minutes east of La Romana, on the much calmer Caribbean Sea. Fifteen years ago, Bayahibe was just a fishing village, but several high-end resorts have started cropping up due to the draw of the nearby Casa de Campo, the D.R.’s most famous luxury resort.

 Beach

With the calmest waves and the softest sand, the Viva's beach is one of the best in the D.R. There are plenty of lounge chairs, lovely sunsets, and no vendors.

The beach
The beach

The beach is magnificent. The resort is 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. The coral rock formations help keep the waves calm so parents don’t have to worry about young swimmers. Some rock formations can be found along the beach, but the resort does its best to clear away rocks in the swimming area, so stubbing toes while swimming shouldn’t be a problem. Plus, unlike most resorts, there’s even a lifeguard on duty during daytime hours.

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 like many resorts along the popular east coast Punta Cana. 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 out of 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.

Unlimited non-motorized water sports, such as catamarans, kayaks, windsurfing boards, are included in the stay. Lessons are available in the mornings. For scuba diving and snorkeling, some guests opt for a day trip to one of the three nearby islands, the most popular of which is Catalina. Daytrips start at approximately $89 per person, but for free scuba lessons and excursions, check out the nearby Iberostar Dominicus resort.

 Rooms

Average rooms -- clean enough, comfortable enough -- renovated since Oyster's visit.

The Superior Ocean View Room (Pre-Renovations)
The Superior Ocean View Room (Pre-Renovations)

Both standard rooms and junior suites have been renovated since Oyster's last visit to the Dominican Republic. Each contain a comfortable, king-size bed (or two doubles). Now featuring streamlined design, the rooms are stylish and comfortable, with a crisp color scheme of whites, browns, and lime greens. It makes for a refreshing, airy aesthetic that is miles above the floral bedspreads and clunky furniture of the resort's past.

Junior suites comes with a seperate sitting room, which includes a large couch (not a sleeper-sofa), a coffee table, and chairs. Unlike most resorts, there’s also a bar area with a blender and juicer.

All rooms have clean bathrooms with a bit of marble and full bathtubs.

  • Coffeemaker and coffee in each room
  • Viva-brand toiletries
  • One-liter bottle of water
  • Flat-screen TVs get about a dozen English language channels including CNN and BBC, but there’s no Pay-Per-View or in-room movie options, like most of the D.R
  • Junior suites feature a sitting area and bar with a juicer and blender
  • Fee for Wi-Fi (free in public areas)

 Features

Naughty relay races, family fun, a hazardous spa, a decent gym, and free trapeze lessons.

The trapeze
The trapeze

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 (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.

  • Two medium-size pools, but they’re not terribly exciting and most guests prefer the beach. There’s a more popular whirlpool, as well as a kids' pool.

Tennis courts, which are in slightly shabby shape, can be booked for use.

  • Soccer field adjacent to the tennis courts.
  • Climbing wall -- a unique amenity in the D.R. -- available for a Spiderman activity in the Beach section of the resort.
  • Serviceable fitness center with mostly modern equipment, though it is small and lacks windows.
  • Metamorphosis spa, a popular chain at many resorts in the D.R., has an impressive variety of massages, hydro baths, pedicures, body treatments, facials, and waxing. But some of the staff members are inexperienced.
  • Unique to the Viva Wyndham, free trapeze lessons are available, run by real-life circus performers.

 Family

Excellent beach with calm waves and a lifeguard, top-notch kids' club, non-stop kids' activities, and ample kid-friendly foods.

Activities at the beach
Activities at the beach

At the active kids' club, two young Italian staffers dressed as Tinkerbell (complete with a sparkly star-topped magic wands), lead the little ones to the kiddie pool and speak softly, yet firmly, in Italian. Geared to ages 4-12 (though most of the little ones are somewhere between 3 and 10), participants in the kids club can expect to play football (soccer), Ping-Pong, and tennis, go for many a swim, and try flying on the resort's much-loved trapeze. There is a mini disco every night.

There is also a junior club for teens (ages 12-16), hosting cooler activities that don't involve water wings. But there are no video game consoles, as they have at the Grand Palladium resorts.

Parents with young children and strollers will find Viva Wyndham Palace easy to navigate, with well-paved pedestrian footpaths. 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.

  • Cribs and roll-away beds are available at no extra charge, but guests should let the resort know they are needed beforehand.
  • Babysitting services can be provided to guests, at an extra charge.
  • There’s a lifeguard on the beach during peak swimming hours, unlike most resorts, though families are also reassured by the calmness of the water.
  • From the brick-oven pizza fired up every night to the little sandwiches and cakes served at the beach bar to the fresh cinnamon and sugar donuts served at breakfast -- kids are likely to see something they would like to eat.

 Entertainment

Late-night disco and theater performances translated into Italian, Spanish, German, and English. Plus weekly trips to a local club.

The theater is the Palace side of the Wyndham resorts -- and has a nightly cabaret show (though the emcees speak Italian). The other theater, located in the center of the resort, is pegged as "international entertainment," which means that shows are in as many languages as the signs are throughout the resort.

The Havik Circus program -- which offers twice-daily trapeze lessons to guests on the beach at no extra cost -- puts on a full-length circus show once a week, in which they incorporate resort guests who have mastered the tricks up on high.

The disco is located directly across from the Italian restaurant, but it doesn't always generate a large crowd.

The resort also shuttles guests for free to Eddy's Bar, a local watering hole, for an out-of-the-compound nightlife experience.

 Cleanliness

Tidy enough and consistently groomed.

The grounds
The grounds

In general, this resort is in good condition, especially after room renovations were completed. The grounds are well-kept at this spacious resort. You constantly see staff members cleaning the garden grounds, and often pruning the infinite palm trees. Every morning, a worker rakes the powder-soft sand. However, some of the public bathrooms near the beach could use a little more attention, especially by the afternoon.

The bathrooms have a bit of mold in the crevices of the tiling, but generally the rest of the room is cleaned adequately (though by no means perfectly).

 Food

From wood-oven fired pizzas to tasty beachside snacks to sunset dinners overlooking the beach, the food is a small, but significant, step up from most all-inclusives.

Desserts at La Yuca Buffet
Desserts at La Yuca Buffet

In general, there is a range in food quality at this resort. La Yuca Buffet, for example, is dominated by many of the same dishes that you'd find at most other all-inclusives, such as pre-cooked meats, an omelet station, fresh fruit, pastries, and a pasta bar. But all the buffet items are certainly prepared well, and are generally better than at most all-inclusives. Somehow the buffet breakfast seems more delicious when it was taken at La Terraza, an airy pavilion-style restaurant set on the water in the beach section of the resort.

Lunch and dinner provide some more refined options. Reservations at the à la carte restaurants must be made a day in advance, before 3 p.m., as is fairly customary among all-inclusive Caribbean resorts. Restaurant La Roca and Viva Café are located in the Beach section of the resort. They both have a Mediterranean menu, including some delicious thinly filleted white fish, a very fresh salad bar, and plenty of crusty breads and rolls. But the view of the water is the real draw here. Other à la carte restaurants serve Pan-Asian, Mexican, and of course, Italian (of which many guests rave about).

 Drinks

All cocktails are made with cheap, generic-brand liquor -- except at Dominicus Palace's lobby bar, which uses name-brand liquor at no extra charge.

The Lobby Bar
The Lobby Bar

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 especially artificially sweetened.

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 one excellent caipirinha. 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 wooden-framed Empress bed.

Dominican and Italian culture does share one love, and that is of coffee. There is a well-equipped espresso machine at nearly every bar we passed.

 Bottom Line

Viva's beach has some of the softest sand and calmest water in the D.R., and it's clearly the main draw at this Italian-owned, Italian-focused, 330-room resort. The rooms are basic but stylish, while the food and activities are a notch above. But seriously, the beach is reason enough to head to this all-inclusive.

Things You Should Know About Viva Wyndham Dominicus Palace Resort

Address

  • Bayahibe, La Romana, DO

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Bayahibe Wyndham
  • Viva Dominicus Palace
  • Viva Wyndham Dominicus Palace
  • Wyndham Dominicus Palace
  • Wyndham Hotel Bayahibe
  • Wyndham La Romana
  • Wyndham Resort All Inclusive Bayahibe

Room Types

  • Couples Retreat Ocean Front Room
  • Junior Suite
  • Superior Plus Ocean Front Room
  • Superior Plus Room
  • Superior/Superior Ocean Front Room

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 330
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Internet Access: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Kids Club: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: La Romana, Dominican Republic
Address: Bayahibe, La Romana, DO
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