I travelled with my boyfriend Martyn on the 1st November for 2 weeks and we booked through Thomson.
We chose this hotel as it had recently been refurbished and was also an adults only so was very appealing.
We flew in on the Dreamliner which was the first one to land there and we had a celebrity audience. Flight was great and the aircraft had more room, better air quality and very smooth through turbulence.
On arrival to airport this was an absolute nightmare-very disorganised and we queued for over an hour to get through immigration. On the way home it was horrendous-taking 2 hours to get through. We had to rush for our flight and there was no time to look around the duty free. For this reason I wouldn't return to dom rep as was such a shambles.
Moving on to the hotel. On arrival we were greeted with welcome drinks and as a group we were instructed of everything from suitcases-internet usage. Very thorough! Rooms were already allocated and this was great.
Rooms were clean, bright and spacious-double bed and a lovely bathroom with a very good shower. Hairdryer was rubbish but I've never found a good one abroad anywhere! Mini bar was all stocked with everything from water to Pepsi,presidente beer and also you had the liquor dispensers. We liked a drink in the room and we did find we had to call regularly to be refilled which was a bit of a pain. Rooms were always cleaned each day and they always offered extra clean towels so overall lovely.
In terms of the food there is a wide variety of choice. El patio does breakfast-good choice but we did miss a proper sausage and a hash brown-would have been lovely. Lunch- you had the restaurant by the pool which was fine-but there was no table service so became a bit of a rat race and food again could be cold.We did however find the Krystal restaurant which is practically next door that was lovely-very quiet as no one seemed to know you didn't have to book. Table service, hot food-excellent! Evening you had the buffet and you also had the al acarte-we only went to the steak restaurant and that was lovely. Buffet we found was wide choice but we did find food repetitive and also could be cold by the time time you got to the table.
In terms of drinks we found the quality of the alcohol was poor. I believe that drinks were watered down at the bars and premium liqueurs were not always given to you unless you asked. Even when you did ask they would sometimes try to fob you off. Service in the lobby bar we found to be quite slow-quicker to get yourself. Around the pool was excellent if you were relaxing on your subbed. However we found when going to the swim up bar that you were sometime ignored for sometime waving a tip. I don't tip to GET service- I always tip when I've HAD good service. Again in the restaurants it was still quite slow.
Entertainment of evening was poor. Saw a few evenings and was very amateur. Mainly dancers. Illusion show was rubbish and Michael Jackson awful. However I would like to add that the animation team were brilliant. They all work so hard and were always trying to involve you in all the activities as well as a dance at night. Malvin, jinette, Alex, Jefferi, wilkins were brilliant. I loved their little dance that they do at 10am & 3pm and Malvin's dancing was always entertaining. They made our holiday!!
We did do a couple of trips booked through Thomson. Saona island was a lovely day out-plenty of drink, ok food although would recommend mosquito repellant! Outback safari was shocking- waste of money unless you like sweating on an open bus in the heat, being thrown about as you travel over unmade roads. Food ok but really was a excuse to take you in the outback and sell crap like cigars, statues, lotions & potions etc. beach stop was only for 30mins and the only animals we saw were a couple of iguanas, caged crocodile and a bunch of kids.
Location wise riu was a big complex- could do with a sports bar and a beach bar and you can't really go outside the complex unless on a trip.
I would say the hotel is a solid 4* but has a way to go to become a 5*. What made it brilliant was the people we met there. Judith, Ian, Richard, keeli, Karen, Richard, Theresa, graham etc. otherwise brilliant weather, company and a tan to go with it.