Music from the nightly live shows will be heard in most rooms at night
Limited activity options at night besides the nightly live shows
Mediocre food and entertainment
Fee per device for in-room Wi-Fi, and fee to use the room safe
Time-share salespeople from next door may hassle guests
Vendors at the beach can be a nuisance
A la carte reservations must be made in the morning
Maintenance issues in rooms such as malfunctioning patio doors
Mosquitos a nuisance
Showers can flood the bathroom
Loungers by beach and pool can get snagged early
This 473-room upper-middle-range all-inclusive has a central location on El Cortecito Beach in touristy Bavaro. It manages to squeeze three pools (including one with a swim-up bar) and four restaurants onto a compact property footprint. Most rooms have reasonably modern decor though some are showing wear and have minor maintenance issues. The beautiful beach and competitive all-inclusive rates are the main reasons to stay -- not the mediocre food or evening entertainment. Expect to line up early for a la carte restaurant reservations and to snag loungers. For a quiet, even more intimate property (albeit one with pushy time-share salespeople) consider the Presidential Suites next door.
Peacocks, families, and couples of all ages have the run of this compact, mellow resort.
Families and couples, largely from Canada and the U.S., mostly spend their days lounging by one of three pools or the 850-foot-wide private-access beach. The resort footprint is small by Punta Cana standards, so guests don't need to hail a golf cart to get to the beach and back. The size also seems to work to the advantage of the several peacocks that have the run of the place and seem to be the unofficial mascots of the hotel; they blithely walk through guests' cocktail conversations on the lobby patio, or fly onto a railing and gawk over your shoulder as you pore over the menu of the gourmet restaurant. (Don't expect a hard answer on how many peacocks there are, exactly -- cats have the run of the place too.)
Despite the kids and animals everywhere, it's a mellow vibe, and not a party scene -- don't expect pool DJs blasting music all day. At night, however, the entire hotel seems to stream dutifully to the amphitheater, where live acts make up for the day's lack of booming bass -- guests in their rooms may have to filter out evening strains of Michael Jackson or Carl Orff (yes, really!) drifting over from the stage. During our stay (during low season), the live show and restaurants were about all that was going on a Friday night, though -- all but the lobby bar had closed for the night, and one group of enterprising guests even used an unused pool-bar counter to try to stream a movie on a laptop. Those who like the low price but who want more of a party scene could look into IFA Villas Bavaro, located a little farther out of the town center.
Right on popular El Cortecito Beach, in the center of Bavaro's tourist activity and about 30 minutes by car from Punta Cana airport
The hotel sits right on El Cortecito Playa, the public beach that serves as the center for tourist activity in the area. (The public-access entrance is about a five-minute walk away.) Plenty of tourist shops, restaurants, and the like are within walking distance, but that also means persistent hawkers regularly wander over from the more crowded part of the beach, offering souvenirs, cigars, or bottles of lukewarm soda. Upon leaving the hotel, drivers may find that it can take forever to find a safe opening to turn onto the narrow street that's one of the region's busiest thoroughfares.
Stylish decor in many rooms, though some lingering wear and maintenance issues; views are of the grounds, pool, or ocean
Rooms at Vista Sol Punta Cana began renovations in 2013, and many have upgraded style. In the Comfort Rooms, this typically means a beachy color palette of blue and white, while in Sea View or Pool Garden Rooms it means a tropical palette of orange and green. The overall feel falls short of upscale, though, and there may be some lingering wear or maintenance issues that got missed in the renovations. During our August 2015 visit, renovations were still ongoing; rooms that haven't been renovated have shopworn furniture and bathroom tiles that have seen better days. In renovated bathrooms, the half glass shower doors aren't sufficient for blocking the water and floors can get flooded. The bathrooms aren't too cramped, though, even in the Comfort Room category, and typically have shower/tub combos.
Family Duplexes make the most of a limited footprint with a soaring second floor that looks over the living room through a glass railing. Some rooms have good ocean views, but guests in first-floor, pool-facing rooms may feel like they're in a glass cage on display to the world. Guests must pay for in-room Wi-Fi daily per device by the day, and for the key to the room safes.
Four restaurants, three pools, beach access, and small animal exhibits throughout the property
The property's families of strutting peacocks may remind you of two things: One, that beauty and musical talent don't always go hand in hand (their honking sounds like Fran Drescher blowing her nose); and two, that it's always pretty cool when a peacock baby decides to join your party for an impromptu chinwag. The pretty preeners are joined by little zoo exhibits dotted around the property -- small aviaries of local birds, and iguana pits, which draw the admiration of guests from little kids to seniors. Taken together with the hotel's well-executed landscaping and gently flowing greenery, and it's kind of like a tamed and manicured Garden of Eden -- with Speedos, suntans, and self-serve soft-serve ice cream.
There are four restaurants: the main buffet, and Italian, Mexican, and gourmet a la carte options. Guests should make a la carte reservations as early as possible after their arrival (expect to line up by 8:30 in the morning) to ensure a booking. There's also a sports bar with big TVs serving snacks all day. The mediocre food is not a high point here.
There are three pools: one with a swim-up bar and activities, and two quieter pools with kiddy areas, whirlpools, and bars. The pool bars serve cocktails only, not food. There's also a bar for drinks by the beautiful white-sand beach. Those who love coffee should head to the lobby bar for fresh-ground beans.
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