Old Reviews – VIK hotel Arena Blanca (LTI Beach Resort Punta Cana)

Just returned from a week at LTI – Punta Cana, March 11 – 18, 2007 and had a very enjoyable time. As the postings are all correct, we will add or confirm a few of our experiences:

Arrival: Getting through the airports on arrival was fairly simple and quick. The resort is about 30 minutes from the airport, but with all of the stops to drop off guests at other resorts, the trip is well over an hour.

Resort: A bit “tired” looking but clean. The grounds were nice with lots of flowering bushes and palm trees. Expect about 70% or more of the guest to be German. Mainly adults, few kids, mainly around the pool during the day.

Tennis courts: If you are looking to play lots of tennis on your vacation, you’ll be disappointed. There are just 2 concrete courts covered with course sand. Guess it is a Caribbean version of “clay courts”. There are 2 resort organized tournaments, a singles tournament on Thursday and a doubles on Saturday. Four people turned up for the singles’ tournament. We passed on the doubles. Racquets and balls are available, free of charge.

Room: We arrived at the resort at approximately 11:30 AM and our room was not available until about 1:00 PM. We had lunch and returned to the check-in counter and were advised that the room was still not available but would be by 7:30 PM. However; because of the inconvenience, we were upgraded from a garden view room to an ocean view room and the charge for the room safe (US$2 per day) was being waived. This was offered without us asking and we were provided a courtesy suit to use to shower and change. There is no iron in the room so walk with your own travel iron.

Bathroom: Hand wash gel was provided at the sink with body-wash/shampoo gel in the bath via dispensers. Bathroom supplies commonly provided such as wash cloths, Q-tips, sewing kits, combs, etc were not provided. Towels, although changed everyday, were grey and dingy.

Security: We did not experience anything missing from our room.

Duty-free: There are only 2 good duty-free shops at the airport. Brugal Anejo rum at the airport ($20) is more expensive than at the resort! But the best place to shop is at the flee market on the beach. Picked up 2 – 750ml bottles, Bacardi 151 and Brugal Anejo, for US$20. Also, a box of 25 Cohiba cigars (Cuban made) for US$35. However, you have to haggle with them at the flee market. Go late in the afternoon at about 4:00 for the best prices. For example, they wanted US$35 for the Bacardi 151 rum and we offered US$15. We agreed on US$20 for the Bacardi & Brugal.

Beach: Great beach with lots of European sunbathing practiced (i’ve come to the conclusion that bikini tops are not sold in Europe, just the bottoms!). Resort was not at 100% capacity so there were no problems getting lounges regardless of when you hit the beach. Sea weed is raked up early every morning. The only problem we encountered was that it was very windy which blew sand into our eyes.

Restaurants: There are 4 restaurants in the resort. The main buffet, Italian, Seafood and Grill. Dinner reservations are required for the Seafood and Italian restaurants with 1 dinner reservation per restaurant per week allowed. The main buffet restaurant offered the 4 basics every night, i.e. pork, fish, beef & chicken. Generally, the meals were good but not great. We are picky eaters so you be the judge. If you like creme caramel you would think that you were in heaven, it was available every day at both lunch and dinner! There are 2 “lobster nights” at the grill, Monday and Friday nights. The price is US$17 per lb for the lobster which you pick after which it is weighed and grilled. The Grill uses real charcoal to cook burgers & hotdogs during the day and steaks, lobster, fish & chicken at night. I think it makes a big difference as the burgers & steaks were very good.

Bars: There are bars in each restaurant plus one between the poll and the beach and one in the lobby. Had to leave the resort to get a cold beer as they were cool at best. No premium drinks, not even Brugal rum available. Just your basic “rot-gut” available.

Smoking: Expect lots of cigar & cigarette smokers at the beach, pool, restaurants, theatre, etc. There was one buffet dining room that was smoke-free.

Shopping: There is a free shuttle every 2 hours between 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM from the resort to the Real Palm shopping plaza. Forget about it! The shuttle takes close to an hour to get to the plaza which is only half occupied. The prices are ridiculous and there are only about 6 – 8 shops open, including a Tony Roma’s Restaurant.

There are 2 flea markets within walking distance along the beach. As you step off the resort onto the beach, turn left and within 10 minutes there are a bunch of stalls right on the beach. Or you can turn right and walk for about 20 minutes until you reach the Captain Cook’s Seafood Restaurant. About 50 meters off the beach there is a strip on the road with various stores and a supermarket. There are also flea market type shops around. You have to (and they expect you to) haggle with them. Start by offering them 1/4 of their asking price and work from there. A 750ml Bermudez 12 year old rum went from US$45 to US$22 or US$40 for 2 bottles. Never pay more that $4 for coffee, you can easily get it for 3 packs for $10.

Activities: We did the ATV and horse-back riding tours. Reasonable priced but a very long ride to get to the ATVs or horse stable. An hour and a half trip each way is such a waste of time.

Pool: There was a very large pool with lots of lounges usually available. We are not “pool people” so we did not hang out around there.

Bugs: No mosquitoes when we were there. Did not hear anyone complain about bugs or mosquitoes, however, we don’t speak German so they could very well have been.

Nightly shows: Most of the shows were quite good. There was one show called "4 X 4" that is a total waste of time.

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