We returned yesterday from a 7 day get away at the recently renovated Riu Palace Macao. A lovely older hotel, set close to the beach with some new areas that have been added to bring this hotel to a status that competes well with other hotels on this strip. This is our 17th trip to Punta Cana. We have experienced many of the Adult only hotels and a few of the family resorts over the past 10 years. When I read some reviews I am amused. This is not a North American hotel and it will never compete in that star/ranking system. This is not a cruise ship, nor can it compete in that category. It can however provide a fabulous vacation experience, at a very good price, in a little piece of paradise that provides wonderful beaches, weather, drinks, food and an overall top notch get away. The renovations have provided an update to the stately old hotel. There is some overuse of silver spray paint in an effort to put a modern spin on some older items but the overall impression is very acceptable. The rooms have seen an improvement in the bathrooms - they can compete with any hotel on the strip now. The Riu has very high housekeeping standards and, for some reason, they choose to use a product to clean with that leaves an overwhelming odor. It is very industrial smelling and leaves a greasy film on the floor that is quite slippery. That treatment is used the day you check in. It becomes less offensive daily. You will not see bugs in your room. I do believe that is thanks to the smelly stuff they treat your suite with. That is my only negative comment. The rest of the experience is smooth and the environment provides something for everyone. Quiet places in the shade on the beach, a large swim up bar with amazing drinks, served promptly and with a smile, good options for dining - we ate a la carte 5 nights out of 6 and we had a pleasant experience, with some ingenious serving concepts having been introduced, every night. The red meat at the Riu is not quite to the standard of some of their competition, if you wish to eat steak. I do not order steak in these resorts so I had absolutely no complaints. Pancho and Valare are two a la cartes that share the space that is the daytime beach-side lunch spot. They dress up nicely at night and are without walls - only screened and yet in this climate still quite warm in the evening. Bring your coolest evening wear ladies and gents! The Japanese is a three course offering and all good. Not the chop and cook at the table concept - simple black tables and very nice food. In the past the wines served at Punta Cana Riu hotels were grim. We are not hard to please but they were really not palatable. Now they offer a nice white and red house wine and a sparkling 9% champagne-style bubbly that is a wonderful treat on a hot day. The bar drinks are excellent and the menu shows you the choices and, when you get the drink, it truly is what you ordered. Good Port and some Brandy available after dinner along with the usual suspects on the resorts rails - the Normandy products of chocolate, peach, strawberry etc and oddly - no Peppermint this time. If you are buying anything at the airport to bring to the resort you might want something higher-end for sipping after dinner. There is a huge area for sitting out to have cocktails any time of day. Nice comfy chairs around small tables. We liked that. That area holds hundreds of people They have a little dance combo in the lounge nightly and then, if you can stay awake, at 10 pm there will be a little show of some kind in the 1940's style lounge that is attached to the bar. It is such a shame that this perfect little lounge, that looks so inviting, still smells musty after all that has been done to improve it. It is charming but a bit...whiffy! That, I might add, is the only place to seek out some air conditioning to sip your after dinner drinks. November this year was so hot and humid that we were not able to sit comfortably on the patio at night - we were really looking for a cool spot once we had eaten. We enjoyed our stay at the Riu Palace Macao. We will go back. We suggest that any negativity you read in certain reviews may reflect situations that are very personal and therefore if you remember you are in Punta Cana, love it for all it offers, remember the price you paid you will feel very, very fortunate to have selected this hotel. We are not folks who write about the wonderful staff they met and name them etc. We do salute the staff at the Riu Palace Macao and feel that that high level of service that is the standard at this hotel at this time did influence our complete satisfaction with our week at the beach. If you have booked a holiday at this hotel, rest assured that you have made a good choice and that you will have a memorable experience. As a note to frequent travellers the days of bringing little gifts to leave for your maid each day may be over. Due to time restrictions this time we did not bring anything like that and simply left $3 a day on the pillow. The service we received was amazing and they left their thanks in a little towel sculpture daily and some flowers around the suite. Our luggage allotment was limited so I was happy not to have 5 lbs of "stuff" eating in to my swim suit space! We do tip and I am not sure if it makes a difference or not. The service we received was exceptional however, we watched a couple near us (most days) and they did not seem to reward the server with anything and they had excellent service as well. We enjoy a little walk in the daytime and the Riu Hotels have a nice interlock path, up off the sun of the beach in the shade of the palms, that you can take to explore the adjacent campuses. I always make sure I have a comfy walking sandal with me so that we can take advantage of that. I like to take a dip in the other pools, get a cold drink and then walk back to our hotel. It expands your horizons and lets you experience the feeling of the sister hotels while burning off a few calories from those amazing pastries in the morning!
We had Wifi in our room - nice perk. No charge. Lots of hangers for your clothing and super drawer space - we had 12 drawers so no competing for space this trip - my husband had one side of the room and I had the other, New info for frequent travellers: It is true. You have to pay $10 each upon entry (US$) ,,,line up and procure this ticket and then head to the entry officials and yes - you need $20 US$ each to depart. ?? This is new. I was told it is an airport tax and that your tour company does not pay this in advance. Regardless of who your carrier is, you will be obliged to pay. We read this but thought it was not factual. We were wrong. Have $60 handy! Have a great trip - we did!