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.
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!)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
If you dont like your room, dont be afraid to ask to change it!
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.