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“Great Vacation but Not Perfection” 4 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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Ranked #41 of 99 Hotels in Punta Cana
Pennsylvania
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Great Vacation but Not Perfection”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 17, 2013

I just came back from the RIU Palace Bavaro with my husband. It was a beautiful resort situated on the nicest stretch of beach in Punta Cana. Let me give you a breakdown of my experience good and bad.
ARRIVAL
Welcome drinks were served on lipstick stained glasses, at least 3 of the 5 drinks on the tray. This put a bad taste in my mouth (no pun intended), right off the bat. I did speak to the front desk manager about it. He did not seem too concerned. He gave me a patronizing grin and stated he would speak to the bar manager. That said I never encountered a dirty glass throughout our stay again.
ROOM
Extremely clean! I have never had such a clean hotel room ever. Our housekeeper Maria made everything extra special and was one of the best things about our trip. Rooms were a little worn for being such a new resort though.
MEALS
The al a carte restaraunts are near impossible to get into we were only given the option of Italian (I do not know why) and most al a cate restaraunts required a 3 day prior reservation made in the am hours. We opted for the buffet. The food was average. Service was good and our server Yocasta was excellent, she even asked us about our stay and our room which is more than I can say about any of the front desk staff.
POOL
Plenty of chairs and well maintained pool. Service at the pool was not the best some servers were nice and others seemed robotic. There is a swim up bar but it is a separate smaller pool with little lounge areas. Coincidentally it was packed with children.
SPA
I was quoted $35 USD via phone for a pedicure which I found to be a great deal especially because there was a $15 coupon, but when I got there they stated my price was $45 after the coupon. I let the rep know I was quoted $35 but she insisted it was $60 but $45 after the coupon. Turns out there is a $35 pedi (they have a website) but she did not offer that to me she only offered the spa pedi. I did decide to go ahead with it and it was a great pedi however it was a bit awkward as my Spanish is not at a conversational level and it was pretty quiet as the tech did not speak much English. This was not too big a deal as I do realize I was in another country.
The weather was beautiful and the beach fantastic. I hope you find my review helpful.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 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
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,618 reviews from our community

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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
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (445)
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English first
New York City, New York
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 15, 2013

My nieces and I stayed at the Riu Palace Bavaro all-inclusive resort from July 28th - Aug. 1st. We just loved it! We really did not want to leave. The resort is beautiful and well maintained. The rooms are well appointed in modern style. Since it is not safe to drink DR water, it was nice the hotel provided bottled water free of charge. Even the liquor and soft drinks in the room and refrigerator were all included which is a rarity in all-inclusive. The staff was very friendly and accommodating. They speak little english so it is best if you know the minimal conversational spanish. It will definitely go a long way. The food was very good. They had a different variety with a few same daily entrees during our stay. The fresh fruit was amazing. It was so fresh that it seemed they just picked it off the trees, especially the mangoes, they were so sweet. I believe they make their juices from real fruit and they were really good and tasty. The entertainment staff did a fine job of entertaining everyone. They had nightly shows that were not bad. The beach was absolutely gorgeous. There were a few seaweed on the beach but nothing to get bent out of shape about. I loved that there were palm trees on the beach so you did not need umbrellas. The water is just breathtaking. I give the beach a 2nd spot after the Cancun beaches. The water activities were ok. I wish they had jet skiing but it is not offered on that side of the island. The spa was very good. I got a massage which was very nice. My nieces got facials and said they have gotten better facials in the US. I really want to give the resort a "very good and a half" rating but it is not an option. I would have given it an "excellent" rating if they offered better water sports and the spa treatments were top notch. All in all, I had a fantastic time at the resort and will go back again to the same resort. Also, I would recommend this resort to families, couples and friends who just want to hang out and chill.

Room Tip: Rooms facing the courtyard and pool/beach are further from the elevator and you get a nice view.
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 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 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Whitchurch, United Kingdom
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 15, 2013

The hotel is stunning and situated directly on the white tropical sands - you couldn't wish for a better location.
The main pool is not

You cannot fault the cleanliness of the hotel. Staff are generally friendly although the service is very slow unless tips are forthcoming (they will favour American guests for this reason). The food is generally good but if you are expecting a large lobster think again. The lobster served in the Steak house (surf & turf) is very small (more like Crevettes) - in the UK they would need to be put back into the sea (especially the females carrying eggs - which were served to us without a second thought!).

The entertainment as usual doesn't start untill 9.00 (for the kids) and the 'shows' for the adults follow this.

We were unable to upgrade as we were travelling with our teenage son - only over 18's can be upgraded even though the hotel was not full.

One thing to note is that although the hotel will exchange money/travellers cheques - they will only exchange for Dominican Pesos which is fine unless you want to use the Sports Bar where the machines that issue tokens for the pool table etc only take Dollars! The rep will exchange Pesos into Dollars but you loose out on the exchange rate again. The best exchange rate is for UK Stirling at the moment (August 2013), followed by Dollars.

Certainly not the best 'Palace' hotel we have been to, but that will not stop us using Riu hotels in the future.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
75 helpful votes 75 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 14, 2013

My Husband and I stayed at this hotel in May. Cancun airport is very easy to navigate but make sure if you have a tour company to simply say no thank you to everyone else. I normally just pull my own luggage as if anyone even touches your luggage you are expected to give a nice tip and then when you meet your tour operator they will expect one as well. We always travel through Liberty Travel and the tour operator in Dominican Republic is Preito Tours. I have to say that this time I was disappointed with their service because we had to wait a long time to have a shuttle to our hotel. They changed vans on us 3 times and that made it hard to keep track of our luggage. Finally we arrived at our hotel. This hotel is very modern compared to everywhere else I have stayed. I actually really enjoyed the decor as it was different and more interesting but I enjoy the more vibrant colors.
When we checked in we were told if we do not like our room we could exchange it the next day. We paid premium price for an ocean view room and we did not get this. We got a corner room with a view of the hammocks in the middle of the resort and the back view was of the hotel pool next door with very loud music playing in the background. I immediately went down to the desk and asked them for a room change. We were moved to a courtyard room with a lovely view of the lobby and ocean. We noticed that we were missing one of our carry on's and the bellman had actually put that piece in someone elses room but he quickly retrieved it. Make sure to watch your luggage at all times. This is the second time this happened to us and in Puerto Vallarta I was not that lucky and never got my carry on back.
The food at this hotel was not very good but it was better than other hotels I have stayed at in Dominican Republic. Make no mistake about coming here for a culinary experience. We only visit Dominican Republic for the fantastic beaches. We know we are not going to really like the food here. It is very difficult to meet all of your expectations at all inclusive resorts so if you go with this in mind you will be fine. The food is still good enough but you have to be flexible and maybe eat a bit differently while you are here. My Husband and I both became ill a few times. This was the only time this has happened to me in Domincan Republic. Make sure to take lots of Pepto Bismol. I feel it was from the margarita's at the pool bar. If you get drinks at the pool bar anywhere you take the risk of items being rinsed with bad water.
The entertainment was really good some nights and really bad others. We just went for the fun and drinks.
Make sure to take rafts they do not supply them.
Make sure to take plenty of sunscreen as it is $27.00 US at the hotel and there is no shopping anywhere near.
The best part of this hotel was the rooms, the jet tub was fabulous. There were not a lot of TV channels.
The coffee bar in the lobby was the best, make sure to get the iced coffee. It is actually coffee poured over vanilla ice cream and it was fabulous.
The best tour to take here is the Island of Sanoa. This was my second trip there and it was fantastic. You will have the best food on this island that you will have all week long.
It is a very romantic place so go an enjoy!!!

Room Tip: Make sure to get a courtyard room. The only thing is you will hear people at night no matter what r...
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charleston, South Carolina
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 13, 2013 via mobile

Me and my girlfriend booked the Riu for July 29th- Aug 5th. The trip was for my 23rd Birthday. We had three months to prepare and read the reviews on Trip Advisor EVERY night. I must say any negative reviews are absurd and must come from very snobbish people. Check in was easy, we upgraded our room to an Ocean view as soon as we got there. The guys at the front desk do understand English and anyone complaning about them not speaking english is a fool because its their country and they speak spanish there duh! We made the most of it and still connected with many of the employees. The snack bar had great variety, as did the main dinner resturant. The breakfast was outstanding as well and Jonathan was amazing! They really cater to you and make you feel welcome. We did a ton of excursions. We went snorkling with sharks/stingrays. We also went on the doon boogies excursion, the Ocean spa excursion(not worth it). The drinks were great and Elise at the Bar was a doll. They work 11 days and then are off 3 days so they really work hard and are grateful for tips. We brought plenty because they have families too. The beach was like no other and we went para-sailing over the water, absolutely amazing. Sexy Cocoa and Sexy Bon-Bon always had entertainment going on. The spa was amazing. We had the moonlight massage and the women at the spa desk helped me to surprise my girlfriend with spa treatment everytime. We also had the Body scrub and 60 min massage. Most amazing time ive ever had. We plan on coming back when we have children one day. Next up is the Riu in Jamaica!!!! Enjoy, it truly is worth every penny!

  • Stayed July 2013
    • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hazleton, Pennsylvania, United States
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 13, 2013

We were a group of 8. 4 couples ages 23-33. Stayed here for a week and LOVED it. If you like to eat, drink and just relax then this place is perfect! We checked out the neighboring properties and were so glad we picked Bavaro. We also took a cab to the Hard Rock, and although it is beautiful, you are doubling the price.

I was really nervous about the food, especially after reading reviews on here, and it was AMAZING. Even with two very picky eaters, they always found more than enough to eat. We could've ate at the buffet all week. Awesome homemade chips and salsa, crazy amount of desserts, the freshest fruit, made to order omelets and pasta, pizza, burgers, tacos and authentic Dominican food. I didn't have a bad thing to eat all week. All of the speciality restaurants are delicious. My favorite was probably Geisha. Least favorite was Krystal. Just wasn't to my taste but you can check out all the menus before you make reservations. Make reservations at the Italian restaurant when you get there for up to 3 days out. It's really not that big of a deal as people make it.

The drinks are NOT weak or watered down at all. More than half the time, they were TOO strong. The bartenders are great and like to have a good time with you. Small tips go a long way. DEFINITELY bring some kind of large travel cup/mug. We got them at Wal Mart and saw a lot of others with them. Those that didn't have them were bummed out to be stuck with the small cups. The Mama Juana is STRONG! Tastes almost like whiskey. But you have to give it a try.

Shower was always hot, rooms were always cleaned. Be sure to keep your patio door shut and locked or you will get a ton of condensation in the room. The language barrier wasn't as bad as I thought. The housekeeping staff is probably the hardest to communicate with but we didn't have much interaction with them. Everywhere is spotless throughout the hotel. Yes, the tiles are slippy. But what tiles near a pool aren't? We had no problems.

The entertainment staff work their butts off. Cocoa and Bon Bon are two you won't forget. We talked to them for a little and they work from 9AM-2AM sometimes. The shows aren't Vegas worthy, no, but we enjoyed the Ideal Couple, Michael Jackson, and watching them dance. Our room wasn't too far from the stage but we didn't have any issues sleeping when shows were going on. You're so exhausted after a long day in the sun it doesn't matter.

There isn't a ton of nightlife. The sports bar was our spot. We were a group that were fine with hanging in one spot and having drinks. The nachos were our late night snack. Yes, the cheese was cold. Pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds and they're amazing. Ask for a to go box behind the bar.

Wouldn't recommend the free water sports. We heard that from a few people. The parasailers are either getting slammed into the water or floating above you almost in the palm trees. We decided to do an excursion through our Apple Rep to Sonoa Island. Cost about $100. We had a nice time. You take a catamaran with rum and cokes, music and enough room to move around. You spend about 2-3 hours on the island drinking, swimming into crystal clear water that you can go out very far with no waves and having a BBQ. Then you go to a natural pool and look for starfish. Worst part was the 2 hour bus ride to the boat and then doing it again on the way home after a long day. I also had a massage on the beach through the hotel. It was $40 for a half hour right on the beach and it was as good as any massage I've had in the USA.

All in all, I don't think I had any complaints. A few people had stomach issues but I personally had none. Don't drink the water. They always give you plenty of bottled water. The hotel staff gives you all these tips when you check in. Bring a TON of sunscreen. We had to spend $30 on a new bottle because our group ran out. The sun is STRONG. I thought my skin would be fine and I burnt to a crisp without lotion on. Wouldn't recommend this as a spot for someone with kids. We saw a lot of families and wondered what they did all day/night because it is more adult-oriented. Yes, there is a kids pool we didn't check out but in the evening I don't see much going on for young children. My cousin and I were looking for everything to go wrong after reading the reviews but couldn't wait to get back and write our own about how wrong some were. Great spot! :)

  • Stayed August 2013, 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.
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 12, 2013

We traveled as a group of 6 to this hotel and I was very impressed with the property. The rooms were a great size with a nice view. The property was well kept. I have to agree with another review that the women were not as friendly but the overall service from the staff was nice. The food was great with the exception of the steak house dinner. The food did not seem fresh but that was not the case during lunch. The food was excellent then. It was nice to be able to make reservations for every night. In other hotels I had to make a reservation every day for the day of the reservation. This was much better. The credits were not worth much. They were "towards" things and never covered the total cost like in other hotels. There is a $15 credit for a pedicure that may cost $40. The credits were one of the reasons I was drawn to this resort but was not satisfied with that. Drinks are very weak unless you are drinking in your room. There is alcohol in the room but not many mixer options. Juice would be great and not all soda. The water was not hot after 10. We even went to another room of one of our friends and theirs was also cold. We were forced to take quick showers. :( the resort didn't seem very alive after midnight which would have been nice we were a young crowd wanting to party. We did go to the Disco outside of the property which was a Lot of fun. With those few concerns I enjoyed the trip so much.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
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 Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #41 of 99 Hotels in Punta Cana
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Riu Palace Bavaro 4*
Number of rooms: 610
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