Submitted on 05-10-2016
This was a family trip, our first to the Caribbean and on a budget. We booked our package through Transat Vacations, and they did a marvelous job putting it all together. They covered everything except side excursions, so there were no surprises or unexpected fees throughout. Reps were usually available to answer questions, and aside from a minor bit of confusion at the airport in DR in regards to finding the right bus, it was flawless and well organized. We stayed from 19-September to 26-Se...
This was a family trip, our first to the Caribbean and on a budget. We booked our package through Transat Vacations, and they did a marvelous job putting it all together. They covered everything except side excursions, so there were no surprises or unexpected fees throughout. Reps were usually available to answer questions, and aside from a minor bit of confusion at the airport in DR in regards to finding the right bus, it was flawless and well organized. We stayed from 19-September to 26-September-2016.
The hotel: I had done some research prior to booking, and VIK appeared to be the best overall deal for what we wanted. I was right. Be aware that if you are expecting to get the Hilton at Motel 6 prices, you are not being realistic. The VIK did provide quite an enjoyable stay at a moderate price, and we were not disappointed. The grounds were clean and well maintained, the rooms, while a bit dated, were comfortable and clean. A/C worked exceptionally well, keeping us cool after a long day at the beach. Also note that this is a family oriented resort, and allows smoking just about everywhere, so expect anything from toddlers up to seniors, and smokers. My complaints are minor, more nit-picky than anything of substance, and I mention them only in being detailed for future travelers. The pillows were a bit soft, and the phone did not work throughout our stay, despite being reported at least 3 times to the front desk. Didn't matter much, since we weren't interested in using it anyway. Tried to order the minibar package they offer on a brochure in the room, but I believe communication issues kept it from ever being delivered, and it wasn't really important anyway. Just thought it would be fun to have, but not a deal breaker. When we arrived in the room, only one overhead light worked, mentioned this at the desk and it was fixed the next day, so no problem there. Overflow pan for the A/C is apparently in the bathroom ceiling, and began to drip on the second day; reported it and was fixed that afternoon, no problem after that. The maids kept the room neat and clean, we always left a tip, and they always did some special little touch every day. When we booked, we mentioned that our son would be celebrating his birthday there, and on that day, the maids went overboard on the room, dressing it up with balloons, orchids, chocolates, etc. Nice touch and was very appreciated!
The staff was exceptional, friendly, helpful, and always polite. Everyone, from the front desk to the security guards (which were always visible), the animators, photographers, maids, etc, were simply fantastic and a joy to talk with. Servers in the restaurants were quick to get you fresh drinks, bartenders always had a smile and a "Hola!" for you. Tipping goes a long way, people; not necessary, but it definitely gets you a little extra attention, and these folks work hard for a lot less than you do, so the tips are definitely appreciated.
The restaurants are good, and so is the food. Nothing to write home about, mind you, but more than passable and never boring. The buffet always had a great mix of dishes every meal, and always something different. Yes, there are some repeats, but again, this ain't the Hilton. The a la carte restaurants had limited menus, but they were usually well chosen dishes to satisfy a reasonable range of tastes. The places were always clean, and well serviced. Staff take good care of you, keeping your table clear as needed and keeping your drinks filled.
The pool is wonderful. As our trip was after the start of the school year, it was a bit less crowded, so there was always shaded loungers available, though if you want a prime spot, you might want to drop a towel down early to reserve it. Otherwise, you can always find a spot to stretch out. And like everywhere else, the pool is well maintained and clean. Animators get people involved, but do keep it to a specific area, allowing those not interested to enjoy themselves peacefully.
The beach is INCREDIBLE! The resort faces directly east, so we got beautiful sunrises every day, and I did not miss a single one our entire stay. Going down early, just before dawn, and staff would be out with a tractor and sand rake, cleaning and primping the beach for the day. No effort in brushing sand off loungers, but there were a LOT of loungers, and a little sand ain't a big deal. Around sunrise, you could find a couple of staff wandering through, picking up any leftover glasses from the night before, and some of the inevitable trash. Security guards patrol the beach 24/7, so you can carry things down with you, leave them on your chair, and not worry. There is plenty of seating, but again, prime spots require getting there early and dropping a couple towels. Just don't save a prime spot, spend all day somewhere else, then show up late in the day. Be a bit respectful to fellow guests.
As for the bars, they are everywhere. Operating times vary, but you can pretty much find something to drink 24/7, though you might have to search a bit depending on the time of day. Again, tip! It helps! We carried our own mugs on this trip, and tipping got me some exceptionally healthy drinks. The glasses they provide aren't big, but they aren't that small, either. Still, I recommend carrying a mug with you, saves trips to the bar if you just want to lounge around.
As for excursions, the hotel has pretty good selection, and while a bit expensive, not unreasonably so. There are a number of hawkers on the beach offering similar, and will bargain on the price, but that's a gamble on quality of the experience, and strictly up to you. We weren't all that interested in doing a lot, so we just stuck to a couple through the Transat rep, and let the others know we weren't interested. A few hawkers selling items on the beach as well, though I recommend avoiding buying cigars from them - they're loaded with newspaper to cut costs. Save it for a trip to a cigar shop. Did get a knock-off pair of Ray Bans that are pretty convincing for a good price, so whatever. There are also a few merchants that set up shop around the grounds, and while they can be a little pushy, you can negotiate some decent deals on souvenirs, depending on your tastes. There was one merchant selling some incredible paintings, and if you have the money, I recommend it. The artwork is fantastic. Only had one run-in with the timeshare guys, just say no, not interested, and walk away. Didn't have any problem after that.
Wifi is only available in the main lobby, and can be spotty depending on the time of day and number of people trying to log on. I did note there were a few places near the lobby where you could pick up the signal and sometimes get better reception than inside, despite the number of people, but again it was spotty.
In closing, it was a great experience, and I would return. I'll give it four stars. If you want five star treatment, then spend the money for a five star. If you aren't that demanding, and don't mind doing a few things for yourself or in need of a ton of pampering details, and all in exchange for a price that fits your budget, then I recommend this place.