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“Nice vacation, Good hotel” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Hotel Riu Palace Bavaro

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Hotel Riu Palace Bavaro
4.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Playa de Arena Gorda | Punta Cana, Punta Cana 74100, Dominican Republic   |  
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Up to $2000 Resort Credit
Ranked #41 of 100 hotels in Punta Cana
MA
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
53 helpful votes 53 helpful votes
“Nice vacation, Good hotel”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 29, 2012

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.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 27, 2012

This is one of the better all inclusive resorts but...specialty restaurants are terrible. Service is slow and not accommodating, doors slam and you are awakened early, staff terrible with English not helpful in an emergency. Entertainment at night is always cheap local karaoke just awful!!!! I would come back for the beach, rooms and buffet restaurants but everything else could be much much better!! Very expensive for what you get!!

  • Stayed December 2012
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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New York, New York, United States
1 review
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 27, 2012

NO Complaints!! Best hotel I have ever been to. Staff members were great. Food was great. Ambient and setting was top notch. The rooms were modern and cleaned at least twice a day. Seating's around pool no problem. Definitely coming back again!!!

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Welland, Ontario, Canada
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 26, 2012

Fabulous resort! Grounds were kept impeccably clean. Rooms were gorgeous and balconies private. Would recommend spending a few extra dollars to stay in the VIP section (Quiet Pool Area), Rooms 5200 building or 5300 building, best view for sure! Bar service was excellent. We had a problem with our safe the first day we got there and the Manager of the hotel arrived in our room to fix it 20 minutes later. The hairdryer didn't work properly and after calling customer service, they attended our room within 1/2 hour to put a new one in. Plenty of chairs at the pool and beach areas. The beach is cleaned daily by a crew that picks up the seaweed and garbage. We were pleasantly surprised at how friendly the people were. There was never a time when you walked by one of the workers that you weren't acknowledged with ola, or Buenos dias. Went to the steak restaurant twice....steak and lobster to die for! Italian was good but not really an Italian restaurant....chicken, vegetarian lasagna. I have read alot of reviews about Krystals and that the people left hungry. Well first of all it is beautiful and second the food was awesome...serving portions were perfect...all four of us enjoyed it very much! We booked a dune buggy tour that followed with swimming in a fresh water spring inside a cave....loved it. Photogragher on the beach Elaina may approach you to take photos. You do not have to buy them if you don't like them. She took the most amazing pic's of us that I will treasure forever....would highly recommend her (she can also be contacted at the Photo Shop on Caribbean Street, right beside the hotel. They have activities on the beach, darts, bocce, volleyball, horseshoes. They need to work at having these events spread out a bit, rather than running back and forth to play the games. The party pool needs a closer bathroom....these are my only two complaints. Would go back in a heartbeat.....Oh almost forgot, the evening entertainment shows were great....when we travel we usually pass on them as they are pretty bad but these were definately higher end. Enjoy, you won't regret it! :)

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 25, 2012

I am a frequent traveller. Travelled to Far East, Middle East, Euorpe, USA, Canada and South America.
This is the first review I ever wrote.
I visited DR/ Punta Cana December 2011 and stayed at the Magistic Elegance. It was nice (7 out 10).
This year (December 2012) I wanted to go to Elegance again only because I know what to expect and how to make the most out of it... but could not find a suitable package. I am so glad I didn't.
The elegance on tripadvisor is ranked way better thank Riu Palace Bavaro!!!! I don't know how!?!? Maybe because is it less expensive????

Staff at Riu is friendly, knows few English words, and very dedicated to serve you better. My son (12 years) said: it is nice to be treated like a royal king!
while at the Magistic : no one from the staff understand a single English word.
I know it is not their problem, but it is nice if you ask for "water" to get "water".

Food: bcause i am a vegeterian i found food at the riu way better than the Magestic. No local food in both though!
Fresh salads, sea food every day and night, more friuts' options...

Utinsels: I never returned a spoon or a fork because it is dirty at the Riu. While at the elegance (and as a matter of fact in many resorts in the world especially in Canada and the US) I had to change something everyday and every meal.

Cleanness: again: rooms are cleaner at the Riu.

Beach: in both Riu and Magistic beaches are nice. But I found spots to lay down easier at the Riu beach.

Pool: the megistic pool is nicer and bigger BUT my husband who did a scuba diving lesson in both pools, said: the Riu pool at the bottom is cleaner.

-night entertainment almost a "BLAH" in both.

All in all, if you want to be treated as a king/queen go to the Riu.
If you want to feel the Caribbean atmosphere (pros and cons) go to the Magestic.

Few tips:
- don't tip the staff at the Magistic ... It won't make a difference!
- if you have the choice to book a vacation in February, the weather is better than it is in December.
- if you need more beach towels, go to the reception and simply ask for more towel cards.
- you will find a fly every now and then at the Riu... But none at the Magistic
- the gift shops at the Riu are very expensive ... Much cheaper at the Magistic.

I can't make any comments on the alcoholic drinks because both my husband and I don't drink at all.
We however, found fresh juice options at the Riu but could not find anything other than pops at the Magestic.

24 hours room service at the Riu was nice for my lazy boys! Free Internet is also a nice gesture

My experience at the Riu is almost perfect (9 out of 10) ... If I have to come again: I will definitely choose the Riu Palace Bavaro.

In general: I care about cleaness more than anything else and this is why I rank Riu better than the Megistic

Our room was 3107 at the Riu. Garden View.

It is not the Ritz but in the world of all inclusive, the Riu is the Ritz of all inclusive

  • Stayed December 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 23, 2012

My overall impressions of the Riu Palace Bavaro are highly positive. The property is beautiful, the resort is new, clean, and has all modern amenities including internet which is a reasonable speed and included.

The beach is excellent, lots of trees shade, sun if you need it, not very crowded, and the water is beautiful, even though there is some seaweed. The beach is cleaned regularly, and this is a nice touch. There is a bar right next to the beach, so drinks are easily accessible, as well as a buffet for lunch and snacks.

The main pool looks great, but not as big as some of the other resorts I've stayed at, although still a good size. There is a swim up bar. There is lots of shady and sunny spaces, and always a lounge chair to sit in.

Food is hit or miss, depending on the day. The buffet is great, truly spectacular, and I can always find something amazing to eat. Food is generally better than on a cruise, and the best resorts I've been too. There is a great selection of meats and seafood, and lots of cuisine styles.

However, the a la carte restaurants we went to (Steak house and Japanse) were below average. I recommend avoiding these, as the food is the same or worse than the buffet.

Drinks are hit or miss as well. Some were fantastic from one bartender, and the next one couldn't even make a mojito. Overall, they are fine though. Top shelf liquor only is available after 6 PM, however.

As for the shows. Some, like the magician and audience interaction shows, were enjoyable. Others, with local singers (lip syncing) and dancing, were boring, repetitive, and poor in quality. They're good if your very drunk, and not really paying attention, mostly for ambience.

Rooms are big, clean, and comfortable. There was a slightly chlorinated smell on day 1 probably because if the cleaning chemicals, although it quickly dissipated. Pillows and beds were good, good balcony, included mini-bar, alcohol in the room, rain shower (inconsistent water pressure), and jacuzzi tub. Room was cleaned every day, very well (we tipped $2 daily). Our original room was in a bad location, but they moved us to a better room after we brought up our concern.

No 24 hour food, other than Room service (poor food, yucky sandwiches, bad selection, no nice drinks) although not sure how you would need to eat late at night after the dinner buffet!

Staff are very friendly, do their best, and tend to go out of their way to make your stay more enjoyable. Nathaniel in the lobby, Edwin at the show bar were especially amazing! Tipping is certainly appreciated, but definitely not expected.

Overall, this is one of the best all inclusives I have ever stayed at, and I do not think it can get much better than this. If they fix these few little things, this resort would be perfect, although it is still very good now.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pembroke
1 review
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 23, 2012

This review is a little late but better late than never. I’ll try to keep it short and hit the important points. Quick overview, traveled my wife and I with signature vacations out of TO with sunwing, 14 – 21 Nov, 2012. Flight was good, airport was super easy, found our bus and quick (30 min) transfer to the hotel.

Check In : Check in was pretty easy, they had the envelopes already prepared with room #’s, keys, bracelets, map, etc. The one gentleman gathered everyone from our flight and grouped us around the couches in the lobby and gave his little speel regarding location of restaurants, elevators, etc. We went to the check in counter to inquire about an upgrade to the VIP suites which was not available and we are later happy it was not (more on that later). Overall, check in was quick and easy.

Room : Our room was on the third floor, south wing, #3017, it faced the outside of the Iberostar resort next door. We had no issue with this as we didn’t spend much time in our room, however on our next trip will request a room facing the interior of the property. The interior of the room was exactly as it is seen in the pictures, very modern, everything worked properly, the shower was awesome, jet bath was great, the bed was firm but that didn’t bother us much (I have 8 herniated discs in my back and it still was not an issue). It was a proper king size bed, not two beds pushed together. No complaints with the room, everything was great. As for room location, we would not want to stay anywhere on this resort aside from the south wing. The VIP suites are all the way across the resort from all the restaurants, buffets, lobby, bars etc. Our room was literally a 10 second elevator ride to ALL of that. IMHO the VIP suites don’t offer enough benefit to be that far away from the amenities. Yes they are very close to the beach but at the same time the main building is just minutes walk to the pool and ocean.

Food : This is where it could get a little lengthly. The food at this resort ROCKED!! The first evening we were so impressed with the buffet we were thinking we’d be missing out by eating at the a la cartes. I don’t know why people say the buffet is repetitive or that they serve the same food as in the restaurants because that is most certainly not the case. Yes they serve sushi in the buffet a couple times a week and you get sushi as an app at the Japanese restaurant but that’s where the similarities end. There was a great selection of freshly prepared food every meal we ate there (every lunch and 2 dinners), the deserts were fantastic as was the pasta station and the carvery with roasts of beef, turkey, pork etc. This buffet was the best we have ever visited.

A La Cartes

Steakhouse – This was our first dinner reservation. The service was quick and efficient. I had the fillet with lobster tail and my wife had the prime rib. As other reviewers have said the meat isn’t as tender as you will find at good north American restaurants or cooking at home but the flavors were there and we enjoyed our meal. The desert was very very good also.
Krystal – We loved the Krystal Gourmet Fusion restaurant with one exception (more on this). The atmosphere is very modern and the service very good. The flavors and quality of food is great. The only complaint was regarding my wifes entrée, it was listed as being a shrimp and pasta dish but when it showed up it was only a row of shrimp on some shredded veggies, she ended up leaving hungry and we had room service a little later. The flavors and execution were otherwise fantastic.

Italian – This was my wifes favorite meal of the whole vacation. She had the mushroom lasagne and I had shrimp with penne in an alfredo sauce. The meal was very nice, the servers were very nice also, not a single complaint about the Italian.

Geisha Japanese – This was my absolute favorite meal of our stay at RIU Palace Bavaro!! The service and quality of the food was far beyond what we were expecting (maybe because other reviewers didn’t care for this a la carte). We had our app’s and my wife had a sautéed beef dish as an entrée and I had the teriyaki chicken, both dishes were amazing in both flavor, portion, and execution. The deep fried ice cream is a MUST for desert!!

Again, the food at this resort was THE BEST we have experienced in the Caribbean and all over the world!! You will NOT be disappointed. As well, the reservation process for A La Cartes was the easiest and most convenient also.

Pools : Having just a regular room we spent all our pool time around the main pool, and we were quite happy to do so!! The resort was approaching capacity and there was still always sun loungers available and the pool was never too crowded. The bar staff there were awesome as well. Yes the main pool is where the activity staff put on shows and games but the pool is large enough that you can just sit further away from the entertainment area if you want peace and quite. We would NOT book into a VIP room just to get access to the private pool as we would just wind up at the main pool anyway.

Beach : Unfortunately for the Palace Bavaro seems to be located on a less favorable portion of beach than its neighboring resorts, however that does NOT mean the beach is bad, its just not as perfect. We spent half of almost every day in the ocean!! There is a section of large rocks and coral on the beach directly in front of the hotel but its not a very big portion considering the overall size of the beach.

Staff/Service : THE STAFF AT THIS RESORT COULD NOT DO ENOUGH TO MAKE YOUR STAY ENJOYABLE!! They were amazing in EVERY way. We never wanted for ANYTHING. I don’t think its possible for a lady to pull out her own chair on this property and the servers were constantly asking if we needed refills on our drinks at the buffet. The bar service was second to none. At the evening shows that were always PACKED with guests table service was very efficient. We didn’t even have to ask for drinks, once ours got a little below half a new one would just appear!! It was great. And we did not buy this service either, a buck here or there but we didn’t tip excessively. I believe we went through $60 the entire week in tips and that was maids, servers, bartenders, excursions, etc all together. The service at this resort is amazing in every way and one of the biggest reasons we will be returning to the Riu Palace Bavaro, Punta Cana.

Room Tip: South wing, main building, facing interior, third floor
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Palace Bavaro

Address: Playa de Arena Gorda | Punta Cana, Punta Cana 74100, Dominican Republic
Location: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > La Altagracia Province > Punta Cana
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #41 of 100 hotels in Punta Cana
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Riu Palace Bavaro 4*
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