We stayed at Riu Palace Bavaro Dec. 5-12th.
Completely unrelated to the hotel...we arrived at the airport on a Wednesday at 5:30p and there was NO lines. I tried to do the online tourist card before we left, but the site was down. It was not needed anyway because we were literally the first ones of the plane and the first ones in line.
We used "enjoy punta cana" for our transfers & highly recommend them. They were right there when they said they would be, comfortable clean vehicles, and they brought along another person in the car that spoke English. THey really went out of their way make sure we didn't have any questions about the area/pick up time, etc.
Having stayed at a few Rius. (Riu Palace Riviera Maya 5 times), & Riu Palace Aruba...but also spent many a days at Riu Palace Mexico, Yucatan, Playacar and a few hours at tequila I feel that I can compare Riu hotels. In addition berostar & lots & lots of Sandals, Valentin, The Royal (2 times) . I was also at Riu Palace Riviera Maya one month before this trip from Nov. 3-9. So that trip was also fresh in my head.
Riu Palace Bavaro was definitely contemporary, lobby was nice, employees at check in were very nice. I will say however that I put in my reservation our only request was a "quiet room", 10 days prior to check in I emailed the hotel with again the request of "quiet room" . Upon check in I said "the only thing we ask is a quiet room". He says "oh yes, you have a very quiet room". So up to our room we go, look outside the balcony which is right across from the theatre. We were very concerned so we told ourselves we were not going to unpack that night to see how loud it was. We went off to dinner & came back to a quiet room. So the next morning we unpack. That night...yikes!! VERY loud! We had to turn our tv up SO loud just to hear it over the music from the theatre that I was afraid we would be bothering our neighbors (like it would have mattered). I called down to front desk at 11p to ask how much longer the noise would go on & he said midnight. My husband put in earplugs & I put my noise canceling headphones on with my iPod to get to sleep. We could STILL hear the noise! which went on until 12:30a! We hoped it was just a crazy "one night" thing...but the following 2 nights was the same thing. I went down and was able to get a room change. We were reluctant to change rooms because we were all unpacked but we really had to if we wanted to get some sleep before 1am. Yes, it was a hassle, but thankful they gave us a quiet room after that.
The rooms were nice with the open concept bathrooms. Yes, the fridge didn't keep items very cool, but if you leave the wooden cabinet door open, it works much better. (housekeeping kept shutting it, & we kept reopening). Minibar refills are filled every 2 days. Once we switched rooms though at one point we went either 3 or 4 days without being filled. The only thing we really used was the bottled water so we just kept going down to the front desk asking for a few bottles. Yes, rain shower heads in BOTH rooms didn't work but its because they were clogged. My husband stood there in the shower & ran his thumb over the holes and viola.it worked... again..not an issue..only took a few minutes to do, and I'm sure it pleased the people who were checking in after us.
Housekeeping was very good, making dining reservations was very easy. You could make 3 days reservations at a time.
Beach was nice, but there is ALOT of shade around it. Seemed kinda busy & tough to get a spot in the sun since there are so many palm trees. Not a big deal...if we were shaded in the afternoon & couldn't get a sun spot then we went up to the pool. Pool had some music going on, but not much of a breeze there where there was plenty of a breeze at beach. Plenty of chairs available at both pool & beach at all times.
Now the things we were SO not Impressed with:
-food really was horrible. I had a couple of good dinners, my husband had a few that he literally could not eat. & he isn't picky! heck, he eats my cooking! Found plenty of options for breakfast, but really struggled at lunch. I know many of you will read this & think that "so what if a burger is overcooked"...well...the burgers were like hockey pucks! every day. it wasn't that the meat was tough, it was that they over cooked them (probably by 2 hours)lol.. I tried a couple of days eating them thinking maybe they were having an "off" day...but SO many other people were talking about how bad they were & many were left on plates on tables. Pizza was nasty (other riu's were much better). I'm not a big seafood person, but my husband did love the fresh salmon that they were taking off the grill to serve They had a lot of seafood options. One day I felt like my only other option (other than seafood & hockey pucks) was a salad...only they didn't have any salad dressing out!? granted, it was just one day, but it was the day that there was not many other options. At home we eat very clean so vacation is the time for me to eat burgers,pizza,ice-cream & desserts. The desserts looked pretty, but we found ourselves (and many other people we spoke with) all playing the guessing game of "what am I eating"? We stopped even trying to eat dessert after day 3 because you couldn't taste anything. Even the ice-cream..lol. On the positive the french fries were good.. a couple of good meals I had was: Italian-shrimp alfredo, Japapense -beef skillet, Steakhouse- beef tenderloin.
Gym & entertainment was a huge disappointment. We work out a lot at home & since this resort is new I figured it would have new equipment. Now the gym is VERY large, however they only have a combo leg curl/leg extension machine (which doesn't adjust well so I couldn't use it). They had a chest fly machine & a lat. pull down machine. THATS it! no free weights! They had one ball that was so deflated it was the size of a volleyball. No bands or anything else. They had 1 bike, 2 ellipticals, 3 treadmills. According to the entertainment schedule they had step class daily at 4pm, so everyday I'd ask "where is it" then as the days went on I was asking "are you doing it" because every day I would go, or ask & they would say "oh, not today". After day 5, I gave up. We did run on the beach barefoot and got a great workout in. & I came up with my own things to do.
As I write this that I am sounding negative & realize that it really wasn't a great hotel. We are not picky travelers and if it was just the "burger", or just the "loud room", or "the lousy food", or "inadequate gym", etc. it would be nothing to complain about. I think having stayed at SO many all inclusives and knowing what "the norm" is at other RIu's we were disappointed.
Would I stay here again, no. But, that doesn't mean that others wouldn't enjoy themselves. Whats important to one person might not be important to another. There are plenty of fantastic reviews on this property. If anyone has any questions feel free to message me.
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