Old Reviews – Viva Wyndham Tangerine

Our family just returned from our DR vacation to the north coast. We stayed at the Viva Wyndham Tangerine just outside of Cabarete and had a great time.

Short version: Hotel was very nice, clean, pretty grounds and friendly staff. Food was interesting to very good. Location depends on your point of view either great or too quiet. Beach was very clean, great surf, be careful when you’re swimming there. Cabarete town, enjoyed shopping there, be careful crossing the street, and the upstairs liquidation store operates on Dominican time…. whenever they feel like opening up. Safety: never felt unsafe once. Biggest Negatives: Kids Club, plethora of annoying vendors on the beach. Biggest positive: the people, the beach! For many more details, tune in for the very long version.

Long Version: We arrived May 5th and stayed for one week, Thurs. to Thurs., flew in from New York City on American Airlines. Flight and customs were smooth. They ushered us around the line because they were totally taken with our girls. ‘you come up here, is ok, you got babies.’ The babies are 5 and 10! Sorry to anyone we passed by! From there we had an absolutely terrifying, nearly pant-peeing taxi ride to the hotel. Cost was $25.00 + tip. Watch out for the baggage handlers at the airport, they are insistent to say the least.

Check-in was smooth and quick, baggage arrived quickly. We did not receive a welcome beverage, which was a bit of a disappointment. My throat was extremely dry after that taxi ride!! But our mini-fridge was already stocked and ready to go. If you sign up for Wyndham by Request (a free program I’m told) they will have your preferred beverage and a couple of other things ready to go for you when you arrive. (this program also includes some free-internet time!)

Accommodations: We had room 2401, 3rd building from lobby on left, first room on the ground floor. Our patio looked right at the fountain and we were across the open pavilion from the disco. We never had any noise issues from the disco as we were asleep by the time it opened, 11:00 – 12:00 most nights. If your a night owl, you may have some noise issues in this building from the disco. The room was kept sparkling clean by our housekeeper, Arelis, who also left us little towel animals often with a flower tucked in them. Our girls loved coming in after she’d been in to clean and finding out what she’d made for them that day. Our room had two double beds and we found it spacious enough for all of us. A little shy on dresser space for that many people, and definitely short on shelf space in the bathroom. We asked for extra waters and towels on our first day and received whatever we needed everyday after that without asking. We were not booked thru a tour group or vacation company, we booked on our own and had no issues whatsoever.

Food: We had varied experienced with the food from things we found a little ‘interesting’ to dishes we loved. We tried all the restaurants, but found the Italian restaurant (la vela) and the buffet easiest with the kids. Personally, I suggest skipping the meatloaf and heading for the pork loin and the chicken curry on the buffet. There is always a potato dish, veggie dish, and varied pastas each day. We found breakfast to be the weakest meal of the day. The scrambled eggs always looked runny, but the omelets were made on the spot and were good. Our youngest ate some thin-crust pizza everyday, her favorite being the hot dog pizza. My biggest disappointment was the fresh fruit. I had figured we would have a good selection of fresh, ripe fruits being in the tropics and it was hit and miss. They mostly offered melon and pineapple which was sometimes ripe, sometimes not. Papaya was offered here and there along with a citrus fruit I didn’t catch the name of and these were hit and miss as well. They were out of bananas most of the time, but they were tasty when they did have them! Definitely bring your own salad dressing packets and don’t expect too much from the salad bar. Lettuce, shredded carrots, some usually fairly green tomatoes. The mexican restaurant (viva Mexico) was tasty and served up the best margarita I got the whole trip. Make your reservations no later than the morning of and better yet, the night before.

Entertainment: Busy, busy, busy. Always something going on, aerobics, darts, volleyball, etc. We spent most of our time on the beach and only joined in a couple of activities. Bingo was on everyday at about 5:30 pm. They play 2 games of it, that’s it. The shows were fun for the most part, some of the humor is quite bawdy and we left partway thru one because of it. Don’t miss the Caribbean show, it’s a lot of fun with a lot of upbeat music and dancing. The kids enjoyed the Wizard of Oz show as well. The staff tries really hard and it shows. Many are quite talented and enjoy what they’re doing, and that comes thru as well. The beach sport activities seemed geared more for adults than kids, though I saw a few kids trying to join in….and a few adults not happy about it. Dominican buffet night was vendor night as well. The vendors are allowed to come in and set up booths and you can browse in relative peace. They do not come out from behind the tables unless you approach the table. They cannot call out after you or call to you to come ‘lookie lookie.’

Drinks: We’re not big drinkers, but we did try out quite a few between us. Antonio was our favorite bartender – he’s the only one who made a decent daiquiri. The girls loved the non-alcohol selections on the menu and drank their fair share of pantera rosa’s and piƱatas. My personal favorite – Dominican Sunrise. There were no bananas for the 6 first days of our 8 day trip and so I only got to try a banana daiquiri, none of the banana drinks on the menu. The drinks are small and depending who your bartender was, weak or fair. There is only one bar for mixed drinks, however you can get a Presidente yourself at the snack bar or the buffet.

Kids Club: The kids club was a huge disappointment. There were two of the entertainment staff there to watch the kids, both young women. We checked our girls in and went back to the pool. Both came out within 15 minutes – unaccompanied. They just wandered right out, no one came with them, no one tried to find us, they didn’t even stand in the doorway and watch them when they walked out to make sure they hooked up with us or anything. We were furious and didn’t take them back. It did looked well stocked with toys, movies, games, etc. but the girls said the adults would only let them color.

Beach: The beach was where we spent most of our time. The surf is amazing. On the windiest days (may 5th, 6th) the waves were huge and hit the beach with tremendous force. The kites were out in multitudes and it was fun to watch them. However, I nearly got clubbed in the head by one kitesurfer and several others passed within arms reach – so keep your eyes peeled when you’re in the water. The undertow here is tremendous, at least during our stay. If your not careful, it will pull you straight back off the beach and into the next wave. This is the perfect place to boogie board or body surf. The beach was kept very clean and everyday there were guys cleaning up the seaweed and trash the sea had seen fit to deposit the night before. They planted another row of palm trees in the sand while we were there and this greatly added to the available shade. Chairs were plentiful (although less after they planted the trees). There are plenty of vendors to fend off or to shop from as you prefer. Trick to avoid them – stand down where the waves are hitting the shore – they don’t like to get wet!! One vendor got really pushy with me, actually pushing his display case into my leg so that it hurt. I got loud and next thing I knew the security guard was there. He spoke a few words, I got an apology, the vendor walked away from the resort and I didn’t see him again the rest of our stay.

Pool/Jacuzzi: The jacuzzi is just that, a jacuzzi, not a hot tub. It’s quite small and will only hold about 5 people. The pool is sectioned into a kids area (1.5 ft) and 3.3 ft, 4.4 ft, and 5.5 ft. areas. Very clean, warm and not too much chlorine. Actually, not sure there is chlorine! Get down there early to reserve a chair around the pool. Got up early to watch the sunrise one morning and saw people there at 6:30 am to save one and they were gone by 8:30. After that your in the sandy area behind the pool which is quite nice, but more difficult to watch your kids from.

Resort grounds/extras: Grounds are very pretty, clean, and well kept. We saw people everyday out cleaning up fallen palm fronds, sweeping, mowing, trimming, weeding. We met Jose one day while walking a path around the backside of the buildings and he enjoyed showing the girls little things he had planted, what they were called and picked them a banana off the tree cause they were ‘good’. The internet cafe is upstairs on the 2nd floor of the main pavilion building. 15 minutes minimum, 15 pesos per minute. The gym is hot and stuffy, bring water and a towel. Guest services was helpful when needed and pleasant to deal with. There is a little store on site that sells everything from Pringles to pharmaceuticals, but is pricey. The gift shop and the art shop are also pricey, but handy when you realize you forgot your deck of cards. 80 pesos, not too horrible. Exchange rate for the resort when we were there was 27 pesos to the dollar. Didn’t try the spa or price their services. The time-share people tried several times the first day or two, but after that they recognized us and we could just wave them off easily. Sundays are very busy at the resort!! Lots of locals come in and use the facilities for the day.

Excursions/Shopping: We booked all our excursions on our own. Ocean World Adventure Park online before we left and did Puerto Plata with a taxi. The taxi stayed with us all day ($55) and took us where we wanted to go and was waiting for us when we were finished. We went to San Felipe Fort (15 peso "donation" for the adults included a 2 min. brief history oration hmmmmmmmm), Amber Museum (not the Amber Gallery!!!) near Central Park ($2.50 US, free with ad from Puerto Plata HOT! magazine), and the cable car ($7.00 adults, kids under 6 free.) Kids got a kick out of all of it. The Amber Museum is air-conditioned and has some interesting stuff, especially if your kid likes bugs and other creatures. The cable car allowed us to take a jungle hike at our own pace for as long as we liked. Ignore the "guides" at the entrance when you buy your ticket. One actually told me "you cannot hike without a guide to take you around." Just a ploy!! We loved Ocean World and had a great time. There is actually only one show – the sea lion show, and it’s really funny! The other shows are based on you being allowed to watch other people do their encounters or swims, the sharks, stingrays, and dolphins. We did a shark/stingray swim and a dolphin encounter. It’s horribly expensive, but absolutely worth every penny, if you do the encounters. The girls can’t stop talking about it, they had such a blast. The tiger grotto is the place to snag a chair and swim, it’s beautiful and being able to watch the tigers is great. We saw very few people at the ‘beach’ area. there was little to no shade. The snorkel reef was fun, you can only go around twice. They are building a new lagoon where they will have an actual dolphin show coming up soon. We didn’t catch a date. They have lots of animals that are rotated thru the habitats so they don’t get overburdened. The staff was really friendly and knowledgeable. We were asked several times if we were having a good time and if we needed anything. The restaurant at the top of the hill is included, except for drinks. My hubby recommends the BBQ pork ribs, he went for seconds. The cafe down by the dolphin area is not included, but serves up sandwiches, pizza, and other items including ice cream. We did all our gift shopping in Cabarete. It happened to pour rain that one day of our whole vacation and it kept a lot of the street vendors inside or not out at all. There are two liquidation stores, one up, one down, both across from Jose O’Shay’s, about a 10 – 15 min. walk from the resort down the beach. The upstairs one is open sporadically as the owners (I’m told) come from Santiago. It was closed both days we tried to go there, so we bought downstairs and the prices were still better than anywhere else. We bought a nice amber set and larimar set at the Taino store right by Jose O’Shay’s. It’s operated by a very nice man who speaks good English and his prices were extremely fair. (and set prices as well.)

I would highly recommend this resort. It was beautiful, the staff was really friendly, impeccably maintained. None of us got sick, didn’t hear of anyone getting sick, and would go back in a heartbeat!!

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