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“Fab holiday don't listen to the bed reviews” 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 #44 of 102 Hotels in Punta Cana
Oxford, United Kingdom
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Fab holiday don't listen to the bed reviews”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 22, 2013 via mobile

After reading a lot of reviews on here I was a little worried but had such an amazing time!

Rooms we were in the main building on the third floor and didn't have anything to complain about. Our room was really big, comfortable and there was no damp smell or insects! The bathroom is all open plan but there is a curtain which you can pull across if you do want privacy. Could not fault the cleaning of the room either, I enjoyed a birthday while here and they decorated our room beautifully.

Service throughout the resort was fantastic! Found that everyone in all the bars and restaurants could not do enough to help you. Although we tipped don't feel you have to the staff in the main just wanted you to show them some attention and engage with them. Special mention to Mateo in the swim up bar and Edwin at the theatre bar they were both exceptional!

The quality of drinks were good and premium brands were in all the bars. Cocktail choice was also really good and enjoyed the martins!

The food is probably my only real complaint, not that it was bad just didn't really change in the main restaurant. The a la carte restaurants were good though my favourite was the Japanese but the others were also good. No problems with making reservations and never really had to queue either.

The beach was stunning and they were always trying to clear up the seaweed to keep the sea clear. The sea was always a beautiful turquoise!

Hope this review helps and I wouldn't hesitate to go back.

Stayed September 2013, traveled with family
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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 (460)
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English first
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
2 reviews
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 21, 2013

I booked a 5 day stay through Travelocity 9/16/13 - 9/20/13. Travelocity's website only gave 3 room-view options (Garden, Pool and Ocean) and the highest category was a Jacuzzi room which I was not interested in. I elected to have an ocean view room in the VIP area of the hotel which catered to adults only and paid a little extra in the process. Upon arrival to the hotel (which was well after the 3PM check-in) I was attended by a young man named "Luis" who told that my room was not ready and it seemed as if he was scrambling to get me key card and other arrival docs. I made it a point of mentioning to him to ensure that I got an ocean view room as per my reservations. When I got to the room, the key cards did not work and I had the bell hop bring me the right key cards. Upon entering the room, it was clearly not ocean view but pool view. By now I was getting frustrated and walked back to the reception area to complain and get the room that I paid extra for. I felt that in their haste to make up for not having had the room ready, they simply gave me this one. I approached Luis and stated that my room did not have an ocean view but a pool view. He insisted it had both. I told him my room was behind the towel station and I know the difference between a pool view and an ocean view and he was welcome to take a look himself as the ocean was not within sight. By this time, I insisted on speaking with the manager, Joanna Silvestre de Moya. Ms. Moya was very nice but clearly gave me the same argument. She further insisted that the rooms facing the ocean were considered ocean front and not ocean view. I explained that I booked through Travelocity and there was no mention of ocean front. Had there been, that is what I would have reserved and paid for. I then expressed my dissatisfaction to her stating the delay in the room being ready, the key cards not working and the room view issue. She clearly noticed my frustration and said that she would provide me a “free” upgrade to an ocean front Jacuzzi suite. Given the outcome, I thanked her but mentioned that there is room for improvement so that others don’t experience this type of reception upon arrival to their hotel.

The room she gave me was lovely, clean and had a great view, however, the first night there was a lot of banging and quite a commotion around 3AM. This was due to some rowdy tourists in the same building that were clearly drunk. This same situation arose the last night of my stay and upon contacting the front desk to complain, they sent a security guard to address the situation. Lesson learned: You can’t choose your neighbors and money comes in all shapes and sizes. Need I say more?

The VIP area had its own private pool but lacked drink service. The music being played was annoying and loud. I love the cultural interaction but would have preferred soft, instrumental or New Age type music. I got the impression that the music being played was for entertainment of the staff and not the guests. Be advised that there is a 3rd pool area of the hotel which was not open to the general public or the VIP guests but to a German-based private tour operator. They even have their own restaurant.

The food in the main dining room was good. The specialty restaurants were tastefully decorated and the food was good also. The grounds were kept nicely. The beach was lovely. The staff was friendly and attentive. The evening shows were “OK” and the bar service was very good during the evening shows.

Overall, nice property but with a few minor tweaks, would be better…

Room Tip: Would not consider paying the extra money to stay in the VIP section as it clearly was not worth the...
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
Wallingford, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 20, 2013

We stayed at the Riu Palace Bavaro from the 30 August for 14 nights. My husband and I travelled together as a couple with Thomson.

Now, where to start. We had originally booked the Riu Bambu, but after reading some pretty shockingly bad reviews, we paid Thomson to upgrade to the Palace Bavaro. And I’m really glad we did. We checked out the Bambu one day, and it is not a patch, NOT A PATCH on the Palace Bavaro! If you can afford the extra £900 to go to the Palace Bavaro and you are considering the Bambu, please book the Palace Bavaro. Obviously we didn’t eat, drink, use the facilities at the Bambu, but just by looking at the place, the impression we got was not a good one.

But, back to my review of Riu Palace Bavaro.

Airport
We paid for Premium seats with Thomson, and this must have been why we got Premium Gatwick. You skick the massive check in queue and Premium have their own check in. Once you’ve dropped your bag off, you go to Premium Security, there was hardly anyone ahead of us, and we went straight through. The whole process must have taken 10 minutes – that’s what you want so early in the morning! Straight through to duty free (and a glass of bubbly at the Caviar bar!)

Flights
Both outbound and inbound were brilliant. As I mentioned, we travelled Premium through Thomson and I would highlt recommend this if you are flying long haul. You get a bigger seat, more leg room, you don’t have to pay for head phones, you have your own TV in the seat in front of you, you can chose what you want to watch from a good selection, the food is great (for plane food) you choose your main course off a menu, real cutlery, glass glasses, pillow, blanket, unlimited free drinks (apart from champagne), brilliant service both ways, no delays, the 8.5 hours passed in the blink of an eye while you are watching some films and drinking a few holiday beverages!

Transfers
As the Riu Palace Bavaro is part of Thomsons A La Carte range of hotels, you do not get a coach transfer, you get a private taxi (both ways) and what a joy that is! No having to sit on a coach and stop at a number of hotels before you get to yours. Straight in the taxi (the driver is waiting in the terminal with you name and hotel on a sign) and straight off to the hotel.

Arrival at the hotel
All the Riu hotels are situated on one complex quite close together, as we drove up to the Palace Bavaro, it is a lovely large modern building, within excellently kept grounds, everything is so clean and tidy. The gardeners work SO hard all day long.
We were greeted in Reception and immediately were checked in, given a map of the hotel, our room key and pool towel cards and our bags taken off us (which we taken to our room for us). Reception speak fantastic English. We then made our way up to our room and our bags followed us about 5 minutes after we got there.

This might be a good point to mention about tipping. Although tipping isn’t mandatory, we felt like we wanted to tip. And this was recognised by your servers, and they can’t do enough for you. They can’t do enough for you anyway, but if you tip, they know that you appreciate all what they do for you. We took US Dollars away with us, and we took to start off with $80 in $1 bills (we spent a total of $130 on tips for the 2 weeks we were there) Which is nothing really in the grand scheme of things. As a general rule we tipped the bell boys $5, the taxi driver $10, every time we got a round of drinks we tipped our server $1, left $2 at breakfast lunch and dinner, and if the pool servers got us a drink we gave them $2.

Rooms
As standard, the rooms are suites. It is ALL open plan including the bathroom. (The loo and shower is enclosed in their own separate cubicles but that is it) There are double sinks, a Jacuzzi bath in the middle of the room that we took advantage of most days. We were allocated a room with 2 double beds pushed together, which we didn’t mind (you get 2 weeks of decent sleep haha) flat screen wall mounted TV, sofa, coffee table and table & 2 chairs. On the balcony there are 2 chairs and a little table. Our view over looked the sandy area with tables, chairs, hammocks, day beds with the evening entertainment area just beyond that. The rooms are incredible, very modern, décor is white, pink and purple, with coloured glass bricks. There are optics in the room (bottles of beefeater gin, Smirnoff vodka, rum and whiskey), a fridge which is restocked every few days with water, soft drinks and beer, and there is a filter coffee machine which does 2 big mugs of coffee. We had this every morning before going to breakfast. Shower is an excellent pressure, there is a hairdryer in the room which I used every day, and my GHD’s worked no problem. Take the round 2 pin plugs with you.

Restaurants
The main buffet restaurant – Monte Cristo
You dine in here for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You also have the option of dining at the restaurant by the pool for lunch (that’s where we ate most days, or some days they do a BBQ on the beach for lunch) There is so much choice, wide ranges of fresh salads, lots of fruit, breakfast you can have omelettes made for you, eggs cooked any way, full English, cereals, porridge, waffles, pancakes, breads, cakes, pastries, meats, cheeses, yoghurt, fresh juices. The waiters bring you your tea/coffee/champagne (for breakfast!!!!) and you can call them over as many times as you like for re-fills.
Lunch at the buffet again so much choice, fruit, salads, fresh fish, chicken, meats, rice, chips, pizza, hot dogs, beef burgers etc, even had a gorgeous seafood paella one lunch (which my waiter brought me over a wash bowl for my fingers and a glass of bubbly without me asking!)
Dinner again so much choice, there is a great pasta station which they cook fresh pasta for you and add your choice of sauce which was amazing, best spag bol ever!! They have local Dominican food, such as goat stew which was so tasty and melt in the mouth, then all the usual buffet foods, we never got bored.

We also tried out all of the speciality restaurants, which you have to book for in the morning, and you can book a few days in advance, we never had a problem booking a restaurant if we wanted one.

There is a Steak Restaurant (which is also the pool side restaurant for lunch), Krystal (fine dining – this was my favourite), Geisha (Japanese – amazing) and an Italian (was ok, nothing special)
It was our anniversary and my birthday while we were out there and we booked speciality restaurants for both those evenings, both nights were incredible. Such amazing food, well presented, lovely service, you really felt like you were eating out when you dined at those restaurants.

Bars
There is a swim up pool bar which is refreshing of an afternoon, an indoor sports bar which is about -10 degrees (well air-conditioned haha), the Daiquiri bar which is in the hotel lobby – had a yummy chocolate martini in there, and the evening bar next to the stage where the entertainment happens of an evening. Real glasses are used everywhere apart from around the pool. We didn’t have any problem with the alcohol, we didn’t think it was watered down (the champagne seems to be VERY low alcohol though) my only grumble is that they don’t have Malibu/or equivalent. I’m in the Caribbean and can’t get a coconut rum – whats that about!!

Evening Entertainment
The evening entertainment was so-so. What you’d expect while you are on holiday. Easy to watch, but nothing special. A couple of the shows are really good though. We went to the Casino at Riu Macao a few nights which was really good fun and spent a few dollars (and won some!) on the roulette table. Drinks are free in there as well as long as you are playing. We also went to the disco Pacha on our last night which ok when they were playing songs that you knew!! It seemed to be quite local, and the later it got, the more the workers appeared and the music changed. There is nothing else to do really. But we didn’t mind, we ate quite late, had a few drinks, watched the show and went to bed, waking up every day fresh as a daisy to enjoy the day ahead.

Day Entertainment
Now, this would be my only criticism of the hotel. Don’t get me wrong, the entertainment staff work really hard, all day and in the evening, but what they do during the day is the same EVERY day, you could set your watch by it. And they music they play is the same EVERY day, there seems to be something going on all the time. There sometimes seems to be no escape from it. The hotel is situated right on the beach, and the pool is right on the beach so you can hear the music where ever you are. There are also a few of the entertainment team (I name no names) that are really annoying! Like really try and bug you into taking part (I’m not a joiner, I just like to be left along and read my book or snooze) and one of them (after we had turned down an offer to join in with something) mad some comment about us wasting our holiday by not joining in! Hmmm, not impressed with that! We’ve paid £3500 for this holiday, I’ll do what I want thank you!

Facilities
Pool – there is one pool that you are able to use (the other pool is for the VIP villas only), but it is clean, cool and just what you want. Also has a good design, pleasing to the eye.
Spa – I had a manicure and an OPI gel overlay, last really well and cost $35 not overly excessive
Gym – 4 treadmills, 2 cross trainers, 1 stepper, 1 bike and some weight machines (3), well air-conditioned, towels provided and water (I went a few times)
Beach – is lovely and clean, white sand, beautiful turquoise warm water, but the sea is choppy! Big waves. I have to say that I prefer the beaches in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. As the water is calmer, there isn’t as much seaweed etc floating around in the water and on the beach itself.

Weather
We travelled in hurricane season, the first 5 days were beautiful clear skies, 30+ degrees, bit of wind, scattered clouds with a few afternoons of full on rain, but the next 4 days were torrential back to back rain and the temperature dropped. We were told this was because we had got the tail end of a storm that hit Mexico. After that the weather picked up and went back to how it was at the beginning of our trip. But with a few showers of rain in the afternoon that went as quickly as they came. I have to say that I got the best tan I’ve had in a long time, and I’m quite fair.

General
We didn’t take any trips so we can possibly comment on that, but what I can say is that they are very expensive. I think parasailing on the beach was $80 per person.
In fact the area is very expensive. We ran out of shower gel and bought some in the hotel ship and it was $9 USD. Gifts are really expensive – like $5 dollars for a fridge magnet! There is a few gift shops, a pharmacy, tobacconist on Caribbean Street just behind the hotel. A carton of 200 cigarettes Marlborough Menthol was $39.
Knowing a little Spanish will get you a long way, it is very appreciated.
Punta Cana airport is a little chaotic, lots of queuing and it is really hot in there! But there is an open section for smoking. There is also a Wendy’s! We bought a double cheeseburger meal, and a kids meal (for me  ) and it cost $15.

So, I hope that you have found this review of some interest, I’ve put some pictures up as well. I would definitely recommend this hotel to a friend, although not a family. There is not much to keep kids amused. Couples or groups. If anyone has any questions, I’m happy to answer them. Enjoy your holiday to Riu Palace Bavaro, and I’m extremely jealous! x

Room Tip: If you dont like your room, dont be afraid to ask to change it!
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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 14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Blandon, Pennsylvania
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 17, 2013

Stayed at Riu Bavarro last October. Decor is Jetson's go to Vegas. Beach is beautiful. Majority of staff were rude. Drinks watered down and the wine was awful. Food was a big disappointment. I expected fresh fish but they offered salmon. What we thought before eating were lamb chops were Spam balls with a lamb chop bone stuck in them and then fried. The steak house was wonderful one night and awful on another. By the third day my husband, myself and another couple were anxious to go home. We have stayed at other Riu's and they all got a great review from me. P.S. Stay out of casino. Very dishonest and shady.

  • Stayed October 2012
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
baltimore,md
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 16, 2013

We planned a early summer getaway to Riu Palace Bavaro June12-18,2013. I booked our vacation thru funjet vacations. Plane ride to punta cana was fine, we arrived in punta cana 20 mins earlier than expected. I was unaware that punta cana airport is open air. It was quite hot walking out of the plane and into the open air airport. There is a $10 entrance fee for everyone entering punta cana so make sure you have cash on you. Our transfer company got us to our resort in about 20-25 mins and we were then checked in and given resort information by our funjet vacations rep, Ceasar. He was the best and so helpful and friendly. The room was very nice and spacious, fulled equipped with a refrigerator, liquor, and couch. We had a great time relaxing by the beach, the water was pretty blue. The workers at the resort keep the resort so nice and clean. There is four specialty restaurants and a main buffet. You need reservations for the four specialty restaurants so we got up at 8am a few times and went down and made reservations for the next 2 nights. All of the restaurants had good food but not much variety on the menus and the menus never changed during our trip at the restaurants. The most variety is found at the main buffett. We also enjoyed the cappuccino bar, tasty drinks and desserts. The nightly shows was very funny and we had a blast at all of them. We also did 2 excursions while they, one was the dune buggy excursions which was very fun but you get quite dirty. The other excursion was the safari excursion where you go horseback riding, to a true dominican house where you can buy dominican coffee and cocoa and then to macao beach. Both excursions were very fun. All in all, we had a great time and great weather. This is definitely a great bang for the buck resort with friendly workers who aim to please!

  • Stayed June 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Indiana
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 14, 2013

This was our first all-inclusive trip, we stayed Aug.31-Sept.7,2013 we read reviews for months and was worried about what we would find.Don't, well worth what you pay. First once you walk in the lobby you are greeted with a drink very friendly and easy check in, the room (junior suite)very spacious clean they seemed to always be in and out so not to bother you,the pool clean always the beach amazing, the food is to each persons own taste always enough of different types of food you always have something good to eat, know for the staff wonderful people never seen anyone that was rude or doing something they shouldn't they went above and beyond to help and make sure you enjoyed your stay with them the language was alittle hard but work with them because they had a hard time understanding us to. Very easy to find everything and to get to the other riu resorts,walked the beach alot and this was the best stretch of beach. I cant say enough nice things about this resort it was way more then we expected, truely paradise. We are planning our next trip to riu palace bavaro.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 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 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Danbury, Connecticut
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 14, 2013

We booked a 5day stay at the Riu Palace Bavaro through Apple Tours after reading reviews on Oyster.com and TripAdvisor, what a great place to stay. The service was exceptional, the rooms, were very well kept, the food was very varied and tasty; we booked a deep sea excursion through Apple with a subcontractor named Gone Fishin' and it was a disaster. Disaster is not an overstatement given the pending storm whipping the seas and the boat is an accident waiting to happen.
The boat was/is not a fishing vessel nor is it prepped for more the 2 passengers it doesn't have rails or straps to hold on to, the bench (2) cushions are not secured so we were being bounced about like rag dolls on the 10-12 ft swells. The guide Anderson told all of us that the waves were 5-6ft but that was an oversimplification of the facts. We were on the sea for 4.5hr and at least 1.5hr was spent chasing 2 buoys dropped. It's was the absolute worst and scariest experience of my life and all we got for the trouble was the crew requesting tips for the captain.

Room Tip: Stay at the Riu don't book an excursion without first meeting the guides or operators. Room 30...
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 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
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 #44 of 102 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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